Maintaining a weed free lawn can be a daunting task, but with the right tools, the right knowledge and commitment to your goal, it is definitely achievable. In this guide, we will go over the different methods you can use to make your lawn weed free.
It is important to note that, no matter which method or combination of methods you choose to use, regular maintenance is key to maintaining a weed free lawn. This includes regular mowing, watering and fertilising of the lawn to promote healthy growth and crowd out weeds.
Types of weeds: Broadleaf weeds vs Grassy weeds
Broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds are two different types of weeds that have distinct characteristics and growth patterns.
Broadleaf weeds are typically characterised by their wide, flat leaves. These types of weeds often have a different leaf shape and texture than the grass they are growing among. They also often have a different root system than grass, typically having a taproot (a single, deep root) and not the fibrous roots of grass. They can be annuals or perennials and produce flowers and seeds. Examples of broadleaf weeds include dandelion, clover and plantain.
Grassy weeds, on the other hand, are weeds that resemble grass in their growth patterns and leaf structure. They have narrow, blade-like leaves and often have a similar texture and colour to the desirable grass in the lawn. They also often have a similar root system to grass, with fibrous roots. They can also be annuals or perennials, and produce flowers and seeds. Examples of grassy weeds include winter grass, Parramatta grass and love grass.
Three main options for weed control
Manual removal is the most basic method of weed control and involves physically removing weeds by hand or with tools such as a hoe or trowel. This method is best for small areas or for spot-treating individual weeds. It is also the most environmentally friendly option as it does not involve the use of chemicals.
One tool that can be very effective for manual weed removal is the Fiskars Xact 4-pronged weed puller or the Wolfgarten Ergo garden weeder. These tools are designed to make it easy to remove weeds from the roots without having to bend over or use a lot of force. They feature four sharp prongs that are inserted into the soil around the weed, allowing you to simply lift the weed out of the ground, roots and all.
These tools are able to reach deep into the soil to remove weeds at their roots, preventing them from regrowing. Additionally, the tool’s long handle provides leverage, which makes it easy to remove weeds, even if they are deeply rooted or difficult to pull.
Selective Post-Emergent Herbicides
Selective post-emergent herbicides, such as Bin-Die and Bow and Arrow, are designed to target and kill specific types of weeds while leaving the desirable grasses unharmed. These herbicides are applied directly to the foliage of the weeds and are most effective when the weeds are actively growing. Be sure to read and follow the label instructions carefully as some of these herbicides may not be suitable for certain types of grasses.
Even though these products are marked as safe for use on lawns, if one is careless with the product and doesn’t follow the label then it can result in killing or damaging the lawn. Always read the label before applying any herbicide.
The best time to apply these herbicides is before the weeds have flowered/seeded, as this will prevent the weeds from reproducing. Also, applying when the weed is small will give a better success rate.
There are many different herbicides on the market that target different weeds; some are readily available and inexpensive, others cost hundred of dollars for a single bottle. This means that there are circumstances where it is cheaper to hire a professional rather than do it yourself. In addition, some herbicides are only to be legally used by a licensed technician. Silverstone Gardening provides licensed weed control services. Feel free to request a quote if you would like a professional service at your property. Let us help you maintain a weed free lawn!
Selective Pre-Emergent Herbicides
The difference between pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides is quite simple. Post-emergent herbicides control weeds after they have emerged from the soil. Pre-emergent herbicides control weeds just after a seed has germinated but before they have emerged from the soil.
Selective pre-emergent herbicides, such as Barricade or Spartan, are applied to the soil to prevent weed seeds from germinating. These herbicides create a barrier in the soil that prevents the growth of weed seeds. Pre-emergent herbicides often work by being potent enough to kill a recently germinated seed but weak enough to allowing desirable grasses to grow.
Barricade and Spartan are very popular due to being effective for up to six months and also being very safe for use.
Pre-emergent herbicides are not recommended for use on newly laid lawn or on damaged lawn. They are known to slow or stop the growth of new roots and as such a new lawn should be fully established and a damaged patch of lawn repaired before a pre-emergent herbicide is used on the lawn.
In summary, maintaining a weed free lawn is achievable with the right tools and knowledge. Whether you choose to manually remove weeds, use selective post-emergent herbicides, or apply selective pre-emergent herbicides, regular maintenance is crucial for achieving and maintaining a healthy lawn.
Other methods for keeping weeds away:
Regular mowing can keep weeds away
Regular mowing helps keep a lawn weed free by preventing weeds from spreading and by promoting healthy growth of the desirable grass.
First, regular mowing can help to prevent the spread of certain types of weeds, such as broadleaf weeds, by cutting off the tops of the plants before they have a chance to produce seeds. This prevents the weeds from reproducing and spreading to other parts of the lawn.
Second, mowing helps to keep the lawn looking neat and tidy, making it easier to spot and remove any weeds that do appear. This allows you to address weeds as soon as they appear, before they have a chance to establish and spread.
Third, regular mowing encourages a thick, dense lawn by removing the top growth and allowing the desirable grass to grow. A healthy and dense lawn will crowd out weeds, making it harder for them to establish and grow.
It’s also important to note that, if your mowing height is too low, it can actually encourage the growth of some types of weeds, as it exposes more of the soil surface to sunlight, which can help the weeds to germinate. Therefore, it’s important to mow your lawn at the recommended height for your grass type.
Does mowing weeds make them worse?
Mowing weeds will rarely make them worse; it depends on the type of weed and the mowing height of your lawn. Mowing can actually help to prevent the spread of certain types of weeds, such as broadleaf weeds, by cutting off the tops of the plants before they have a chance to produce seeds. However, for other types of weeds, such as grassy weeds, mowing can actually make them thicker by encouraging the plants to produce more shoots from the base of the plant.
One of the main concerns with mowing weeds is that it can cause the plants to spread by releasing their seeds into the air. Some weeds, such as dandelions and thistles, have a tendency to spread their seeds widely when they are cut. It is also important to note that if your mowing height is too low, it can actually encourage the growth of some types of weeds, as it exposes more of the soil surface to sunlight, which can help the weeds to germinate.
In summary, occasional or infrequent mowing can make weeds worse in some cases by spreading seeds. However, regular mowing is much more likely to prevent the spread of weeds by cutting the weed before it has had the chance to go to seed which will assist you in maintaining a weed free lawn.
Does vinegar kill weeds in grass?
Vinegar can be used as a natural weed killer to kill weeds in a lawn, but it is not a selective herbicide and will also damage the grass if not used carefully.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which can burn and dehydrate the leaves of weeds, ultimately killing them. A solution of vinegar and water can be sprayed directly on the weeds to kill them. However, it’s important to note that vinegar is not selective and it will kill any plant it comes into contact with. Therefore, it’s important to be careful not to spray any desirable plants or grass. Additionally, using vinegar on a hot and sunny day can increase the damage to the plants, as the sun rays can magnify the acidity of the vinegar.
It’s important to note that, even though vinegar can kill weeds, it may not be a long-term solution for weed control, as the weeds may grow back. Additionally, if the weeds are deep-rooted, vinegar may not be able to reach the roots to kill the weed completely.
It’s also important to consider that vinegar is a non-selective herbicide, and it can be harmful to the environment if not used properly. It can also be harmful to pets and children, who may come in contact with the solution.
In conclusion, vinegar can be used to kill weeds in a lawn, but it is not a selective herbicide and can also damage the grass if not used carefully. It can be a quick solution but it may not be a long-term solution for weed control and it can be harmful to the environment, pets and children if not used properly. It is advisable to use other methods of weed control, such as manual removal, selective herbicides, or a combination of both, to achieve and maintain a weed free lawn.
If vinegar is used to control weeds, will it damage the soil?
Vinegar can be used to control weeds, but it can also damage the soil if not used carefully. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which can burn and dehydrate the leaves of weeds, ultimately killing them. However, the acidity of the vinegar can also affect the pH levels of the soil, which can make it more acidic and less suitable for certain plants.
The acidity of vinegar can also affect the microorganisms in the soil, which play an important role in maintaining soil health and fertility. These microorganisms are responsible for breaking down organic matter, cycling nutrients, and improving soil structure, so their loss can have negative effects on the soil.
Additionally, if vinegar is used in large amounts or too frequently, it can lead to a build-up of salt in the soil, which can be harmful to both weeds and desirable plants.
Do lawn mowing companies spread weeds?
It is a common complaint for people to blame an external mowing business for new weeds in their lawns or gardens. However, is this a fair complaint? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Let me explain.
It is possible for lawn mowing companies to spread weeds, especially if they do not take proper precautions to prevent the spread of weed seeds. This can happen when lawn mowing companies mow lawns that have weeds in them, and the weeds release their seeds into the air, which can then be transported to other parts of the lawn or to neighbouring properties.
However, it is more likely that a weed seed will be blown in from the wind, which is blowing all the time, than for a weed seed to be transported via lawn mowing equipment.
In any case, it is always a good idea to regularly check your lawn for weeds and address them as soon as they appear, whether it’s by using manual removal, selective herbicides, or a combination of both.
In summary, lawn mowing companies can spread weeds if they don’t take proper precautions to prevent the spread of weed seeds. However, weed are more likely to be spread via the wind. Property owners should also be aware of the weeds in their lawn and address them as soon as they appear.
Do selective herbicides kill bees?
Selective herbicides are designed to target specific types of weeds while leaving desirable plants unharmed. However, depending on the type of selective herbicide used, it could potentially harm pollinators such as bees. Some herbicides can be toxic to bees if they come into contact with the treated plants while they are still wet or if they ingest nectar or pollen from the treated plants.
It’s important to note that not all selective herbicides are toxic to bees and some are less harmful than others. It’s also important to consider that other factors such as timing and method of application, as well as weather conditions, can also affect the potential risk to bees.
For example, some selective pre-emergent herbicides, such as Barricade, are applied to the soil before weeds have a chance to germinate, so they do not come into contact with pollinators. On the other hand, selective post-emergent herbicides, such as Bin-Die or Bow and Arrow, are applied directly to the foliage of the weeds, so they can come into contact with bees.
It is important to read and follow the label instructions carefully, as some of these herbicides may not be suitable for certain types of plants or may have restrictions on their use during certain periods when pollinators are active.
In summary, selective herbicides can be safe to use around bees if they are used properly, but it is important to consider the type of herbicide, the timing and method of application, as well as weather conditions. It is also important to read and follow the label instructions carefully, as some of these herbicides may not be suitable for certain types of plants or may have restrictions on their use during certain periods when pollinators are active.
Can regular fertilising help control weeds?
If your lawn is relatively weed free, regular fertilisation can help control weeds by promoting healthy growth of desirable grass and making it harder for weeds to establish. Proper fertilisation can provide the necessary nutrients for the grass to grow vigorously and outcompete weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients, making it harder for them to establish and grow.
Fertilisers typically provide the three main nutrients that plants need to grow: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen helps the grass to grow lush and green, phosphorus helps to promote root growth, and potassium helps to strengthen the grass against disease and stress. By providing the grass with these essential nutrients, regular fertilisation can promote healthy growth, which can help to crowd out and suppress the growth of weeds.
However, in a lawn that is overrun with weeds, fertilisation will also encourage those weeds to grow more. If your lawn is overrun with weeds, we recommend controlling those weeds through a post-emergent selective herbicide or through manual removal before, or very soon after fertilising your lawn.
It’s important to note that over-fertilising or applying the wrong type of fertiliser can have the opposite effect and can encourage the growth of weeds. Bad fertilisation can kill or burn the lawn which will open up space for weeds to thrive. It’s important to use the right type and amount of fertiliser for your grass type and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on application rates and timing.
Does weed matting work at preventing weeds in lawns?
No. Weeds often germinate in the top 1-2cm of soil. When installing roll on turf, even if the turf was laid directly on the weed matting, which is not recommended, there would still be enough soil above the weed matt for weeds to germinate.
Silverstone Gardening does not recommend using weed matting in a lawn situation. A pre-emergent herbicide will be much more effective at preventing new weeds from emerging.
Is there any permanent solution or method to maintaining a weed free lawn?
Unfortunately, no. There is no way to permanently control weeds in a lawn without damaging a lawn. A pre-emergent herbicide is the best option for long term weed control as some can prevent most weeds from emerging for up to six months.
Controlling different types of lawn/grass varieties in your lawn
It is very common for one type of desirable lawn to grow into another type of lawn, for example couch invading buffalo or kikuyu invading couch. This can cause an uneven or irregular look to the lawn. Below we briefly detail all the available options for controlling one type of invading lawn variety in your lawn.
How to control buffalo lawn invading into a couch lawn
Any broadleaf herbicide that contains Dicamba will damage Buffalo in a couch lawn (Amgrow Kleen Lawn is one option). Multiple applications are likely to be needed.
Another option is to vertimow and/or scalp your lawn. Buffalo only has surface runners (stolons) whereas couch has surface and sub-surface runners (stolons and rhizomes). This means that if you scalp everything off the top of the lawn, you will remove all the buffalo runners but your couch lawn will be able to regrow from the sub-surface runner. Only do this during the growing season on a healthy lawn, and fertilise the scalped patch to encourage healthy recovery. Please note that recovery may take three to six weeks.
How to control a couch lawn invading into a buffalo lawn
There is unfortunately no selective herbicide that will damage couch and not damage buffalo. The only way to control couch invading into a buffalo lawn is to carefully hand paint a non-selective herbicide like Glyphosate on to the invading couch lawn. Be very careful not to get any non-selective herbicide on the desirable grass you intend to keep.
How to control a kikuyu lawn invading into a couch lawn
Whilst some herbicide can damage or suppress kikuyu in a couch lawn, the most successful are not legal for use in the home lawn. The best way for a homeowner to control kikuyu invading into a couch lawn is to carefully hand paint a non-selective herbicide like Glyphosate on to the invading couch lawn. Be very careful not to get any non-selective herbicide on the desirable grass you intend to keep.
How to control annual rye grass invading into a couch, kikuyu or buffalo lawn
Duke or Destiny are selective herbicides that will control annual rye grass in couch, kikuyu and buffalo lawns. Read the label before applying.