Lawn Weeds: How to Control Them in Your Garden

A weed free garden is the dream of every gardener. Loads of gardeners mangle their fingers wondering how to keep weeds out of garden. Bear in mind that weed control may be daunting in the beginning. However, your hard work will ultimately bear fruits.

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What is a lawn weed?

A lawn weed is simply an unwanted plant growing where it is undesired, e.g. in your garden. Lawn weeds not only compete with your plants for resources such as water and sunlight but also harbor pests and diseases, so you want to get rid of them.

Types of Weeds in Lawn

Types of Garden Weeds
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Some of these weeds look like grass, so differentiating them from your lawn is not an easy task. 

Here is a list of some of the common garden weeds:

1. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma Hederacea)

What is Creeping Charlie

This is an aromatic weed that releases its pleasant scent when it is cut. Its smell may seem harmless, but Creeping Charlie is an aggressive weed that can easily overshadow your cultivated plant. It is always recommended to get rid of Creeping Charlie in your garden.

It does have a shallow root system, which makes it easy to pull off the ground.

Control Tip: Although creeping Charlie is a broadleaf weed, it is not affected by any broadleaf herbicide you may buy. This is because of their vining rhizomes underground. The best way to tackle creeping Charlie is by hand pulling, depending on the space covered by the weed.

2. Bindweed (Convolvulus Arvensis)

Bindweed

Bindweed is a hardy perennial weed with white flowers. Although they are sometimes called wild morning glory, they are different from the ornamental annual morning glory.

Bindweed is an invasive plant that is difficult to control once it has gotten a foothold in your garden. They have a deep and extensive root system with one plant capable of spreading several feet.

They can also survive a few years in the soil. Can you see why it is among the persistent weed types?

Control Tip: Tilling the ground encourages the growth of field bindweed, and even the use of herbicides is hardly effective. Early intervention is the best form of getting rid of bindweeed. Stop the weed when it is still young. You can do this by mulching with polyester or black plastic, as bindweed can break through many mulching materials.

3. Canada Thistle (Cirsium Arvense)

Canada Thistle

Canada thistle is another creeping perennial with aggressive growth. It has sharp, thorny leaves and brownish rootstock that can quickly cover an area.

Canada thistle reproduces both sexually and asexually with new shoots capable of coming out from any part of its rootstock.

How to Get Rid of Canada Thistle: Because of its extensive root system and long-lasting seeds (seeds can last up to 4 years in the soil); controlling Canada thistle is no small task. Pull Canada thistle from the ground before they form deep roots. If deep roots have already been developed, stress the plant out by cultivating during the flowering stage, which is its weakest stage.

4. Crabgrass Weed

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a common annual warm-season weed that attacks undernourished gardens. Its best growing period is during late spring, once the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although crabgrass is an annual weed, its seed can remain in the soil for years.

Control Tip: Overseeding open lawn patches with the help of a drop or broadcast spreader will prevent the growth of more crabgrass and choke out already grown crabgrass. You can also use chemical crabgrass treatment to kill crabgrass.

5. Dandelions

Dandelions

Although they may have colorful flowers, this weed is not met with glee when gardeners find them in their gardens.

They grow in thin, undernourished patches like the crabgrass. Dandelion seeds float in the air seeking open spaces to grow. They develop deep tap roots that allow them to survive harsh conditions like drought.

How to Get Rid of Dandelion: Overseeding open patches and leaving grass clippings on the lawn to serve as mulch will prevent the growth of dandelions. You can also use a biological agent called sarritor to kill dandelions. The use of broadleaf herbicide is also effective.

6. Velvetleaf Weed

Velvetleaf Weeds

Among the Types of Weed, Broadleaf weed can grow up to 7 feet tall. Its heart-shaped leaves are covered in tiny velvety hairs. They produce yellow flowers during the summer.

Velvetleaf likes to grow in sunny and fertile landscapes.

How to Get Rid of Velvetleaf Weeds: mulching will prevent the growth of velvetleaf weed. To control the growth of already grown velvetleaf, pull them off the ground if they are not much or make use of herbicides in spring.

7. Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea)

Purslane grass weed

Purslane likes to grow in dry sandy soil, hugging the ground as it grows. It has tiny fleshy green leaves.

Purslane is said to be one of the most nutritious plants around, so instead of harming it, you can harvest it and use it in stir-fries and salads. Purslane is a juicy succulent that is delicious in meals.

How to Get Rid of Purslane: digging purslane out of the ground or pulling out by hand is an effective method of tackling this weed.

8. Quackgrass (Elitrigia Repens)

Quackgrass weed

Quackgrass is a perennial grass weed with long, jointed, brownish rhizomes covering the ground. It is persistent and can produce new shoots from any part of its rhizome.

Control tip: pulling up young quackgrass alongside its root is the best way to tackle this weed. Make sure to wet the ground, so it is easy to pull the weed out. Avoid adding quackgrass to your compost pile; dispose of it instead.

9. Moss

Moss

Moss is a green weed with a spongy feel and a weak root system. They usually grow in damp shady corners and can be quite persistent since they can produce their food.

Control Tip: moss is a persistent weed, but it can be handled by raking the area. Since their root system is weak, you can easily pull them off the ground using a rake. Here is a more comprehensive guide to handling moss in your garden.

These weeds are pretty common in gardens across different climatic conditions.

Why are Weeds Bad for Your Lawn and Garden?

Why are Weeds Bad for Your Lawn and Garden?
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Some garden weeds may seem harmless; some may even have a pleasant scent when cut, so it’s understandable if you begin to wonder if their presence is a bad thing after all. Weeds can harm your garden in so many ways. Here are some of these ways:

1. It is Unpleasant to Look at

Your once clean and attractive lawn can quickly become unsightly once weeds invade the area. One of the most apparent harms you’ll notice immediately when weeds enter your yard is the untidiness it brings.

Sometimes, it may not be your lawn area, but your clean flower beds get overrun with weeds. One thing remains, it makes the area messy and unattractive.

2. There’s an Unhealthy Competition with Your Plant

When weeds invade your garden, it begins to fight for scarce nutrients, space, water, and sunlight with your cultivated plants. Weeds are aggressive and will more often than not win this battle of wits which can lead to the death of your cultivated plant. In other cases, they coexist but reduce your plants’ growth, causing stunted growth, pale-looking or off-color plants.

3. They Carry Disease

Weeds are often carriers of diseases, and their presence in your garden may lead to an outbreak of a disease that can affect your garden. Weeds are aggressive growers and can quickly spread over an area and, in turn, spread the disease across your lawn in record time. Pest also loves to hide under the shade from the weeds.

4. They Make Working in Your Garden Difficult

If your lawn and garden have been overrun with weeds, working in that area will require twice as much energy and time. Trying to harvest your plant with weeds around it can be frustrating. You may have to weed the area before anything else.

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing in the Garden?

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing in the Garden
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If you’ve ever had weed take over your lawn, you’ll understand how big a problem that is, and often, it takes a lot of effort to rid your garden of them completely. Preventing weeds from entering is a better alternative to weeding and fighting when it starts to spread. So, how do you prevent weeds from growing in your garden?

#1. Use a Pre-emergent

A pre-emergent is a herbicide applied before weeds show up to stop them from germinating. While the common herbicide works above ground level by attacking the weed when it sprouts, pre-emergents work below the ground and attack the seeds and root, thereby stopping any germination or sprouting.

Pre-emergents can be applied in spring or after harvesting to give it time to start working before weed seeds start germination. Before pre-emergents can work, they need to be activated by water as the water forces them down into the soil and the weed seeds.

#2. Avoid Disturbing the Ground as Much as Possible

Weed seeds most times lie dormant in the ground till you till the soil or shake it up. Then they wake up, start growing since the tilling has probably taken the seeds closer to the topsoil.

Understandably, you have to till before planting, but after the initial tilling, try as much as possible to avoid disturbing the soil.

#3. Water Selectively

Watering the entire area may be enabling the growth of weeds. So what do you do instead? Use a hose to water the root of plants directly instead of all the area. This creates a drouth I’m the other areas and starves the weed seeds of water to grow.

#4. Use Mulch

Mulching is an effective weed prevention method as it inhibits the growth of weed by removing several necessary factors for growth. Depending on the type of mulch you use, you can remove sunlight, water, space and even reduce nutrients.

Some common mulch materials include plastic film, wood chippings, cocoa barks, and so much more.

The Best Tools for Weeding

The Best Tools for Weeding
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When prevention of weeds is not done at all or done right, weeds find their way to your garden, and if they are not removed, they can quickly fill up the lawn. One of the oldest methods of weed removal is weeding. Some common tools for weeding are as follows:

  • Hand Weeder
  • Weeding Sickle
  • Weed Cutter
  • Hand Digger
  • Paving weeder
  • Crack Weeder
  • Garden hoe
  • Weed Burner
  • Cape cod weeder
  • Stand Up Weeder
  • Twist Tiller
  • Weeder Cultivator 
  • Fishtail weeder

There are several tools you can use to remove weeds from your garden. Here is a concise guide to these tools and how to use them:

Use Weed Killers to Get Rid of Lawn Weeds Quickly

weed killers

If you do not want to manually weed your lawn, you can use weed killers to remove unwanted grass from your garden. However, one of the biggest problems you’re likely to face here is finding the best weed killer to use.

There are so many in the market, all with varying levels of effectiveness and safety. Here is a list of some of the best weed killers for different weed types:

Organic (Natural) Vs Chemical Weed Killers

Organic (Natural) Vs Chemical Weed Killers

There are two types of weed killers; organic or natural and chemical weed killers.

  • Organic Weed Killers

The organic form of weed killers is derived organically and is less harmful to cultivated plants, water sources, pets, humans, and the environment. They are, however, less effective than the chemical type.

Learn more about organic weed killers here:

  • Chemical Weed Killers

Chemical weed killers, on the other hand, are derived from chemical materials. They are more effective in killing weed but often are more hazardous to cultivated plants, pets, and the environment.

Learn more about chemical weed killers here:

Common Mistakes with Weed Control

common Mistakes with Weed Control

Many people make several mistakes when dealing with weeds in their yards that can reduce the effectiveness of whatever method of weed control they employ or even harm them or their environment.

Here are some common mistakes people make when trying to remove weeds from their lawns:

1. Using Improper Tools

Standard weeding tools like hoes take out the shoot of the weed but hardly remove the root. This will only slow down the growth of the weed for a short while before it starts growing again. Tools like spades and dandelion pullers are better suited to remove both the root and shoot of the weed.

2. Using Sprinklers 

Sprinklers may be an effective watering method, but they may also be promoting the growth of weed. Using drip irrigation or hoses to water directly to the base of the plant will cause drought in other areas and deprive weeds of the water they need to grow.

3. Waiting too Long Before Weeding

If you wait too long before you weed the grasses that have begun to grow in your yard, they’ll mature, produce seeds and deposit them on your land. These seeds can remain dormant for decades and can quickly germinate and fill up your garden.

4. Over Watering

Overwatering will make it difficult for your plants to grow deep roots which only make them susceptible to being overrun by weeds since they cannot access nutrients from the deeper parts of the soil. Water your plants only when needed to allow them to grow deep roots and become stronger.

5. Frequent Mowing

Mowing your lawn too frequently will prevent the grass from growing properly. Mowing often can also remove nutrients from the topsoil. This does not mean you should leave the grass to grow tall before mowing. Depending on the type of grass, cutting once every week is ideal.

Some Advantages of Having Weeds in Your Yard

Does it sound strange? Weeds in your garden do have some advantages.

  • Tells you your soil condition: The type of weed you find in your garden can tell you your soil condition. Certain soil conditions boost specific weeds’ growth, so whenever you see those weeds growing, you know the exact problem and can combat them easily.
  • Some are quite useful: Even though these weeds are growing in areas where they aren’t wanted, they can still be beneficial. Some can be nutritious vegetables you can use in your meals; others can be delicious meals for your livestock.
  • They can serve as ground covers: Depending on the type of weed, they can be useful as groundcovers, covering the bare ground and reducing the loss of nutrients and water through evaporation. They can serve as natural mulch in your garden.
  • Little or no maintenance needed: One of the reasons they are classified as weeds in the first instance is because they are aggressive growers that can survive on their own. This means you do not even need to allocate scarce human resources to them.

Weighing the pros and cons will guide you to choose between eradicating the weeds from your garden or reducing their growth.

Important Tips to Deal with Weed in Your Garden

Tips to Deal with Weed in Your Garden
  • As much as possible, do not disturb the soil and dormant weed seeds 
  • Water the plants directly and not the whole area
  • Where possible, reduce the gap between plants 
  • Use mulch
  • Use tools that can also remove the root of the weed

FAQ

Q1. Are all Weeds bad for Your Garden?

A. Not all weeds are bad for your garden. There are some advantages of having weeds in your garden. Check out this article for the benefits of weeds in your garden.

Q2. Why is Weed control important?

A. Weed control is essential if you want to keep a tidy, disease-free lawn and ensure your cultivated plants do not have to share scarce nutrients with unwanted plants.

Q3. How to Identify Grass from Weeds

A. There are several ways to identify weeds, even if they look like grass. The method to use depends on the type of grass. Check out a concise guide on how to identify common weeds that look like grass.

Q3. When should I use weed control on my lawn?

A. The best time to use weed control is during spring and fall. In spring, weeds are yet to start growing, so you can use pre-emergent methods. By fall, weeds are weakest and would be more susceptible to your attacks.

Q4. Should you use Weed Fabric / Mat?

A. Using weed fabric to cover the soil is an effective method of weed control.

Q5. Can you grow a weed garden?

A. You can leave different weeds to grow in a particular area to form a weed garden. Luckily, weeds require little to no attention.

Q6. Is a dandelion a weed?

A. Although dandelions produce showy bright yellow flowers, they are classified as weeds due to their toughness and aggressive growth pattern.

Conclusion

Having weeds in your garden is not a pleasant sight to behold, and this is why people go to various lengths to remove and control weed growth on their lawns.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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