How to Kill Weeds, Not Grass? This is a common problem that homeowners have to deal with. Nobody wants weeds in their lawn or garden but killing weeds without killing your grass or other plants is possible. In this article we share with you a variety of ways you can have a beautiful lawn without those pesky weeds.
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How to Kill Weeds, Not Grass?
Weeds are a common nuisance that homeowners know all too well. They’re unsightly and can cause harm to the health of your lawn. Fortunately, there are several options on how to kill weeds, not grass so you can keep your lawn healthy looking.
Why Should You Remove Weeds from Your Lawn
You may not be a stickler for having a perfectly manicured lawn; however, when it comes to weeds there is cause for concern. These pesky plants can take in valuable nutrients in the soil that will deprive other desirable plants. This is especially important for gardens. Weeds compete with the other surrounding plants, often times taking over the other species. Certain types of weeds can even harm surrounding plants by releasing chemicals through their roots.
The lawn and garden aren’t the only places where pesky plants pop up (Try saying that 5 times fast). They can also grow through cracks in paving and driveways. Tough, stubborn weeds can cause damage to the concrete and can even take over buildings, such as ground ivy. What’s more, they invite unwanted pests and diseases that can further harm your lawn and garden.
There are three effective methods on how to kill weeds, not grass. You can manually remove them by digging up the roots, cut them from the tops, or choose the chemical method with an herbicide. Which approach you should take will depend on a number of factors – size of the yard, the type and extent of the weeds, and your preference all play a part. Here’s a look at each approach with the pros and cons.
Why you should care for your lawn regularly
Digging Up by the Roots
One of the easiest ways to remove weeds from your lawn is to simply dig them out. By digging up the weed plant you are also removing the root system. This will help in keeping them from returning the following year while protecting the surrounding plants. You will need a garden tool to effectively dig up the weed with as much of the roots as possible. The best time to dig up weeds is when the soil is wet and soft such as after a rainfall.
The downfall to this approach is it’s labor intensive, especially if you have a large area of weeds to remove. Tilling up or turning over sod for an area you’re wishing to convert to a garden also poses a problem. There could be seeds from other weeds lying deeper in the soil that have been dormant. Digging up roots or tilling can bring these seeds up to the surface resulting in more weeds if they become germinated.
Manual Weed puller | Fiskars 3 Claw Garden Weeder (78806935C)
Off with their heads! Certain types of weeds can be killed simply by cutting the tops off. Regular lawn maintenance consisting of mowing the lawn at the ideal height helps to prevent lawn weeds from taking over. Depending on the type of grass you have, you should set your blades on the mower to cut it at the recommended height. Grass that is cut too short will allow sunlight to the soil and provide ideal conditions for weeds to thrive. Thicker grass of medium height restricts sunlight and favorable conditions for weeds to grow.
Mow the lawn accordingly to a schedule. In between mowing the lawn, weeds that sprout up can also be cut using a garden hoe to cut the tops. This should be done when there is no rain for a few days to effectively kill the plant.
Cutting the tops off won’t kill all types of weeds. For instance, vigorous weeds with deep root systems can only be killed by manually removing the entire plant or using an herbicide. If you have a yard riddled with weeds, mowing could further spread the seeds if they’ve already been sown. Bag up lawn clippings to reduce favorable conditions for germinating more weed seeds.
Using Chemicals to Kill Weeds
Weed killing products are known as herbicides and they come in many different forms. Weed killers that are labeled as pre-emergent herbicides are designed to work as preventatives. You apply these products before weed seeds germinate (in the spring) to kill the seeds and keep new weeds from growing. Post-emergent herbicides are designed to treat weeds that have already emerged. It becomes absorbed by the leaves eventually killing off the plant. These types of herbicides can take up to a week to completely kill the plant.
When using herbicides it’s vital that you read the label to ensure it’s the right product for your needs. In addition to pre-emergent and post-emergent products, herbicides are also selective or non-selective. A selective herbicide has active ingredients that target specific types of weeds without killing most grasses. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper use. Non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with. These types of herbicides are best used in driveways, patios and walkways.
Another reason to read the instructions carefully on the product you’re using is to follow the guidelines on the best time to apply. Pre-emergent herbicides and weed killer solutions typically require being watered in after application to help the plants and seeds absorb it. Post-emergent products, however, require wet foliage before application for optimal absorption upon contact.
An alternative to using chemicals that could potentially harm other surrounding plants is by making your own herbicide. Beware of ‘natural weed killer’ solutions out there as some ingredients could also harm surrounding plants as well as the soil. These are some ‘recipes’ for spot-treatment weed killer that minimize harm to your lawn:
Corn Gluten Meal – Applying corn gluten meal in the spring before weeds germinate will help in keeping your lawn weed-free. Corn gluten meal is a byproduct of the corn milling process that is available in granules, pellets, or powder. The nitrogen-rich corn gluten has properties that can prevent weed seeds from germinating and spreading throughout your lawn. This should only be used in established lawns and gardens, not where seeds of plants you intentionally planted are because it can also prevent these from growing.
Natural Weed Preventer | Espoma CGP25 (25 lbs.)
The initial application will only suppress about 60% of weed seeds from germinating if applied at the right timing. Repeated applications are generally required for optimal effectiveness. Corn gluten meal is also more costly to use than conventional pre-emergent herbicides. With repeated applications you’re looking at shelling out more money.
Vinegar – A solution of horticultural vinegar (20% acetic acid that can be found in gardening supply stores) can effectively kill off weeds. To use undiluted add it to a spray bottle with a little bit of dish soap. The dish soap helps it adhere to the leaves of the weed plants. This solution should be used directly on the leaves of the weeds and avoid overspray onto nearby plants.
Tips For Weed Treatment
A great way to determine which method of weed control and treatment is best for you is by knowing what types of weeds you have. Some weed killers are formulated to kill specific types of weeds that may not be very effective on others.
Broadleaf weeds – Any undesirable plant that has wide or broad leaves is known as a broadleaf weed. Dandelions, clover, and ground ivy are common types of broadleaf weeds. When choosing an herbicide be sure it lists broadleaf weeds to target and kill only these types of weeds without harming the grass.
Perennial grassy weeds – These thin grassy weeds have a life-cycle of more than one year and can be tricky to treat. They go dormant in the winter then come back up the following spring. Quack grass is one of the most common types of perennial grassy weeds. Such weeds are typically not affected by weed killers that are made specifically for broadleaf weeds.
Annual grassy weeds – These types of grassy weeds have a life cycle of just one year then die off. They sow their seeds just before the end of the season which can mature and germinate to grow more weeds the following year if left untreated. Crabgrass and bluegrass are common annual weeds. The best course of action for these types of weeds is a pre-emergent herbicide.
The maturity of the weeds will also affect how well the treatment plan will work on them. For instance, smaller plants that are young will be more susceptible to contact herbicides. They also have smaller root systems making them easier to pull or dig up. More mature plants may develop a coating on the leaves that will make them resistant to contact herbicides. For mature weed plants you will need to cut or mow them down prior to applying an herbicide.
Have the right tools handy for the method you will be using to treat and prevent weeds. Certain types of garden tools, such as a mechanical dandelion grabber, can make pulling up weeds much easier and more effective. Use gloves when handling or mixing herbicides.
There are different types of sprayers for liquid herbicides from small pump sprayers to large 1-2 gallon tank pressurized sprayers. You can even purchase a dial sprayer that connects to your hose for a convenient way to treat your entire lawn at once without having to mix and dilute the herbicide. Roundup for Lawns 2 is a great selective weed killer that targets over 200 common types of lawn weeds without harming the grass. Many herbicides also come in a pellet or granular form. These are often used as a weed-and-feed product to keep lawns healthy.
Timing is everything when it comes down to effective treatments on how to kill weeds without killing grass. Some types of weeds and products are time-sensitive while others may be used any time during the productive season. The ideal time to spray herbicides is in early spring when temperatures are between 45 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some herbicides become waterproof after 3-4 hours of treatment. Avoid spraying an herbicide on grass during windy or rainy conditions. Refer to the instructions on the herbicide regarding watering applications before and after applying the product. After applying weed killer treatment keep pets and people away from the area until product dries completely.
Keeping your yard completely weed-free is a nearly impossible task, but you can master how to kill weeds, not grass. Inspect your lawn regularly. Through proper lawn care and maintenance you can keep the weeds at bay. With routine inspection you will be able to identify any pop ups and take care of them on the spot before they have a chance to cause a problem for your lawn.