One of the biggest problems people face with their lawn is weeds. And it’s one of the easiest to combat.
First, let’s define what a weed is. There is no official botanical classification of “weed;” whether a plant is considered a weed depends upon the context. Simply put: A weed is any plant that is growing where it is not wanted. Clover, for instance, is something some people consider to be an unsightly addition to their lawn. Other people, however, embrace clover.
That being said, there are some plants that are more prone to sprout in your lawn without you wanting them to. And don’t those nasty things just seem to sully your lawn year after year after year?
Here’s the thing, though: Most of those weeds invading your lawn are annuals. That means they germinate, do their thing, and then die all in one season. Which is good, because it means your lawn isn’t actually doomed to support the same weed plants every year– if you start taking proper care of it.
So the question you ask yourself shouldn’t be “How can I get rid of these nasty weeds?” Rather it should be “How can I prevent these nasty weeds from germinating in my lawn?”
Here are five simple things you can do to make your lawn less attractive to weeds.
Stop using chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers like Scotts, are toxic to soil. Those chemicals kill beneficial micro- and macro-organisms living in your soil (bacteria, fungi, beetles, earthworms, etc.) which kills the soil itself. Turf doesn’t grow well in soil that’s been stripped of all life. But there are plants that do thrive in dead soil– they’re called weeds. Ugly, nasty plants that no one wants in their yard. If you stop killing your soil with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, healthy turf will abound, and healthy turf always wins out over those nasty weeds.
Instead of chemicals, use organic fertilizers to feed your lawn and apply microbial soil drenches to replenish the microorganism population.
Mow your lawn higher. Set your mower up to the highest setting, which will give you a longer, thicker turf. The longer turf will make it harder for the weed seeds to get the sunlight they need to germinate and grow.
Water less frequently. If you water your lawn everyday, the weed seeds that are present will have an ideal environment for germination. Full-grown turf doesn’t need as much water to thrive, but seedlings need constant water. If you cut back to a longer, deeper watering once every seven to 10 days, your grass will be healthier (deeper roots), and there won’t be as many weeds germinating on your lawn.
Fill in the gaps in your grass. If there are gaps on your turf, holes where grass has died or weakened, fill them in with seed. The ideal time to do this is late summer or early fall (mid- to late-August all the way to mid-September). Early spring is less ideal, but you can do it then too. Use a mixture of cool weather seed– Kentucky Bluegrass and fine fescue are a nice mix. Spread a thin layer of topsoil over the gaps, put some seed down, then cover it with a soil/Worm Compost mixture. For further help on when and how to overseed your lawn, give us a call at 616-594-0693 or email Steve at steve@GoodSweetEarth.com.
Pull the weeds. Every week go around your lawn and look for unsightly weeds growing, then pull them up by the roots. Staying on it early in the growing season will mean you won’t have as many weeds to pull later in the season. Effective weed control really can happen without chemicals. And remember this: Your lawn doesn’t need to look like a TPC golf course or the outfield at Comerica Park. If your yard looks good from your front porch, or from the street, then it’s good. No one is gonna be out there penalizing you for any tiny plant that doesn’t conform with the turf around it.
So if you live in west Michigan, and you’re interested in controlling your weeds organically this year, give us a call at 616-594-0693 to set up an appointment with Michigan’s only 100% organic certified lawn care manager. Or shoot an email to Steve@GoodSweetEarth.com. Here’s more info on the lawn services Good Sweet Earth has to offer.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.