How to Fix A Lawn Full of Weeds
If there’s something that can make you feel proud of your house is having a beautiful lawn. Sadly, having the greenest and most attractive garden is not always possible.
The number one enemy of a beautiful lawn will always be weeds. That’s why it is crucial to know how to fix a yard full of ugly grass effectively.
When they start growing around, your lawn will not look as expected. These green killers are often hideous and can slowly kill your other plants all across your lawn. If you don’t eliminate them quickly, they will eat your attractive vegetation and leave only an awful pale pasture.
Here, we are going to explain all about weeds and how to get rid of them. If you want to find out more, then come and learn!
How to Know your Lawn is Full of Weeds
It doesn’t matter the type of weed killer for lawns you’re using as long as you don’t know how the weed is acting. Here we will describe the most common symptoms of weeds growing on your lawn:
When the density of your yard differs dramatically in one place, it means you probably have a weed issue. Especially with dirt patches or very dense parts, you are very likely looking at a lawn where weeds are growing or soon to do so.
Seeing different densities around the lawn is also a sign that you don’t mow enough. So, you will have to get rid of the weeds growing, seed all the dirt patches with green grass, and reduce the density with a mower.
Sometimes you don’t see dense patches of grass or dirt spots. Instead, you will see several layers of grass with dead leaves and branches together. This forms what we know as thatches, and they are also a huge sign your lawn is filled with weeds.
You will mostly see thatches in winter and fall when weeds start to die and leave their corpses behind. While thatches are not really bad, they can still look bad on your lawn.
Especially when thatches grow over an inch, you may eventually see them more easily all around your lawn. But this is not only ugly, but it also causes the green grass to choke and die, even more so if the thatches prevent them from getting sun exposure.
Thatches are always a sign that you’re not taking enough care of the landscape.
Too Many Weeds
Sometimes you won’t see different patches around the lawn, thatches or density issues. Instead, you’ll see how weeds are unsparingly growing everywhere. And that’s always the best sign, but also the worst thing you can experience.
Experts say that if your lawn is more than 50% filled with weeds, it’s almost always impossible to get rid of them. This happens because weeds spread around quickly and removing them or simply killing them without harming the rest of the grass is unfeasible even for experienced landscapers.
The best action you can take is starting killing your lawn vegetation with herbicides. You can either decide to do it slowly or at once. Otherwise, you may need to start accepting that weeds will be a part of your life.
Why do Weedy Lawns Happen?
Weeds are one of the most common issues with lawns. They happen everywhere and almost all around the year, so keeping your yard free of them is something you’ll have to do every few months or so.
But sometimes people forget to maintain their lawn. And of course, that immediately opens the space for weeds to grow and produce their awful effect.
Another reason why weedy lawn happens is thin lawns. People who don’t like dense grass may eventually have more weeds in their lawn than those who keep it thick.
However, there are also other reasons, especially related to their mode & time of grow:
They grow at only one season in the year. These are the easiest to get rid of, but they are also the most common.
Here you’ll find switchgrass, crabgrass, and other non-green grasses. And for leafy weeds, you’ll discover pigweeds, ragweed, carpetweed, frilly lettuce, yellow foxtail, black medic, cocklebur, and others.
Some of these are not awful and don’t last long, but they can still make your lawn look unattractive. Luckily, they only grow once a year around summer or winter, so if you kill them before they spread seeds, you can prevent them from developing the next year.
The way to kill them is by pulling them out of the ground and using herbicides. Most of them grow on fresh or recently disturbed terrain, so getting rid of them can be simple without killing grass or other plants.
These are the weeds that grow one year and last up to two years on your lawn. It’s essential to kill them before they lay seeds as they reproduce and spread very fast. But if you manage to prevent seeds from spreading, you will keep control of these weeds easily.
They often have enormous roots, which people confuse for perennial weeds. However, they don’t take much to kill completely. And they die after flowering and spreading seeds, which happens about once every year of their lives.
Here you’ll find plants such as the wild carrot, the evening primrose, the moth mullein, burdock, white clover, wild violet, pokeweed, dandelion, and many others.
These are among the most common you’ll find. And they can be the most annoying as well. So, keeping your lawn free of them can be hard work, but if you do, it’s very likely never to grow weeds again.
Among the many perennials weeds you’ll find, there’s the yellow nutsedge, the red sorrel, the hedge bindweed, curly docks, quack grass, ground ivy, and many others.
The worst issue about perennials is that they produce large taproots. This means that pulling them out of the soil may not be enough. So, you’ll have to dig deep (1 to 4 feet) to get rid of the roots entirely and prevent further growth.
The best way to keep them in check is to keep the grass 3 inches tall. But if you can use mulches or pre-emergence herbicides to prevent them from spreading seeds, you’ll be able to control them more easily.
How Can You Get Rid of Weeds Permanently?
Weeds, like any other types of plants, they have only one purpose in their lifetime – and that is surviving and reproducing.
So even if you decide getting rid of a whole lawn filled with weeds or killing large patches of weeds accordingly, you need to accept that it will not be easy. Most experts know that this is a pretty hard job, sometimes impossible.
Luckily for you, killing weeds permanently doesn’t have to be your goal. You may only need to prevent them from growing.
When you keep the lawn thick but short, always green with enough hydration, and with enough sun exposure – then you’ll be preventing weeds from growing to unwanted levels. You can add herbicides to the equation if you need a little more potent option.
If you do this, weeds will still be there, but as long as you do the right things, they won’t grow to make your lawn ugly.
So instead of killing them permanently, which is an almost impossible deed, you can focus on keeping them in check. And that will be easier and much more affordable in the long run.
Can I Kill Weed without Harming Grass?
Learning how to get rid of weeds without killing grass is not easy, but it’s always possible. And the most useful product for that is the post-emergent herbicide.
This spray gets rids of annual, biannual and perennial weeds pretty quickly and they don’t hurt your healthy green grass.
On top of that, you can find this herbicide almost anywhere. You’ll just need to pick the right product according to your needs and apply it correctly.
Is There a Natural Weed Killer I Can Use?
Yes, there’s always an organic weed killer for those who don’t want to use something environmentally harmful. However, doing it with a natural weed killer takes more time and effort than with synthetic herbicides or with direct handling of the plants.
The best option would be to spray the weeds with vinegar. This dries the ugly grass and prevents them from growing. Eventually, you'll be able to pull them off the floor really easily. However, it could be dangerous to plants around if you’re not careful when spraying.
Focus on picking vinegar that has at least 20 percent of acetic acid for more effectiveness. But vinegar does not work as effectively as an herbicide, as it works well only with small patches of weeds. If you need to get rid of large amounts, we recommend using artificial products instead.
How to Fix a Weedy Lawn – Comprehensive Guide
Now that you know all about weeds and herbicides, it is time to roll up your sleeves and jump on the lawn. Fixing your yard away from harmful plants won’t be easy, but with these steps, you can make it happen without the extra effort:
Pick the Right Season
First of all, make sure you’re fixing your lawn in the right season. There’s no purpose in getting weeds out of your yard in winter when it’s likely that their seeds are already spread around, and you’ll see them again in spring.
Instead, it’s always better to start killing tweeds in summer. This is where they grow the most, and they haven’t yet spread their seeds. You’ll mostly see sprouts by now, so that would be a great sign to start getting them off your garden.
This is also the right season to start using herbicides. Those grass-friendly options that don’t kill grass would be the best choice.
Just remember that it’s just about outcompeting the weeds and helping your grass grow further. So, picking the right season is always crucial.
In hot areas, you may start when rains start falling. That would be the perfect moment to get the weeds out.
Mown the Lawn
Once you’ve set a plan for getting rid of weeds, it’s time to start doing so. And for us, the first step is always mowing the lawn.
Keeping your grass not too tall or short, but dense is always the perfect way to prevent weeds from growing.
Mowing will also kill the seeds that generally fall from the top of the weeds, so you’ll be getting rid of the most critical part of the plant first.
This won’t immediately kill the weeds, but it is a good start, especially if you had a large lawn before starting the process.
Dig for the Roots
Sometimes, the problem with weeds goes deep from the surface. You’ll need to get some dirt out to get rid of the unwanted weed roots. And that is always a little difficult to do.
First, you’ll need to spot all the deep-rooted weeds. These are mostly the perennial types, primarily when they’ve grown over one or two feet. This is an almost certain taproot that’s at least one-feet deep, and you’ll have to dig to get it out.
With many of the roots and the digging, some of the grass will come off. You can now decide whether you want to keep it or not.
Whatever you pick, just make sure there’s no weed around and that you’ve taken them out as effectively as possible.
Save Grass if Needed
You already know how to get rid of weeds without killing grass; now you’ll have to put all that knowledge in practice.
This is mostly useful for lawns that are more than 50% grass. So, if your yard has more weeds than grass, you better kill everything instead of leaving patches of grass around that may not survive in the long run.
To save the grass, you’ll just have to select only healthy sprouts. All the patches that look healthy, very green, and without weeds – those are the ones to save. Try to cover them or keep them away from the grass-friendly herbicide still. Then wait for two weeks and start with the next step.
Destroy the Weeds
Once you’ve decided whether to save some grass or not and you have dug out the rest of the weeds, you can start using the weed killer for lawns.
Here you’ll need to use a hose sprayer. We recommend spraying the lawn, but focusing only on the weeds, while trying to avoid any spraying on the grass.
This happens because herbicides, even the organic ones such as vinegar, can be pretty damaging to all plants. So, if you want to preserve some of the green grass, keep the herbicide away as far as possible.
Also make sure to wear goggles or glasses, gloves, pants and shirts with long sleeves, and garden shoes or boots. This will help prevent any issues later with either your clothes or body.
Rake the Lawn
Using power or manual rakes will be useful to get rid of any unwanted thatch in the lawn. This will also destroy the weeds that are growing and get rid of all the dead product.
Make sure to rake the lawn from one side to the other and vice-versa. This will help you get rid of everything all across the yard more effectively.
Just try to remove everything that’s not grass or soil. Any debris, get it off with the rake, and you’ll be ready to prepare the ground.
Add Topsoil if Needed
After digging, raking and adding some herbicides, you may need to add some topsoil on the dirt patches around. Wherever there’s no grass and no herbicide, we recommend adding some topsoil to make the land fertile again.
This will make it easy to add some grass when needed and prevent weeds from growing as they’ll be deep down now.
Just try to find the most fertile topsoil possible and refill the dug-out holes so you can add the grass seeds lately.
Aerate the Soil
After you’ve added some topsoil, it’s time to aerate all of it.
Here you can use an aerator. This will take the topsoil from the bottom and take it to the top. Eventually, the soil will end up much more fertile and ready for grass to grow effectively.
We recommend using the aerator both in the places where you added topsoil and in the areas where there’s grass. While this may kill some of the healthy plants, it will leave a far stronger bed that makes it easier for it to grow and prevent weeds.
The benefit of aerating the soil is that water will go more in-depth, so the process of fertilization will be faster, and the grass will grow healthier than without it.
Prepare the Seeding
Now you’ll have to focus on seeding. This is not easy, but the first thing to do is to plan or make an outline of where you’ll want your grass to grow and how.
Most people leave the whole process to spreaders. They distribute all the seeds and fertilizers around by only pushing it through. You can use either a broadcast or a drop spreader according to your needs.
The whole purpose is to prepare the seeding evenly. You will need to make sure that the entire lawn has the same amount of seeds, so it eventually grows to look neat.
Add the Grass Seeds
After you’ve done everything related to the handling of the soil and the removing of the weeds, it is time to start seeding the ground again.
Here, we recommend adding some seed-friendly herbicide along. But the real importance is to pick the right type of grass, taking color and thickness into consideration. Other essential factors to consider are drought tolerance and shade; two factors that could change how well the seeds can fare over time.
Then just grab the drop or broadcast spreader and seed the lawn according to plan. Remember to spread all the seeds consistently to prevent a striped lawn in the long run.
After the seeds are on place, you can now mist the entire lawn. Use a hose without saturating too much. This will help to keep the soil hydrated once the seeds are in.
Rake the Seeds
Grab the rake again. Once the seeds are on place and the soil is hydrated, you can rake the whole lawn slowly and steady. This will help to spread the seeds even more and bury some of the seeds that are on the surface.
You don’t have to bury the seeds, just make sure that some are on top and others on the bottom of the topsoil. This will produce a steady grass growth.
Fertilize the Soils & Seeds
Once some of the seeds are below the soil, it is time to add fertilizer. This helps to augment the growth of grass and prevent weeds from appearing.
The whole purpose of adding fertilizer is to strengthen the roots. But you’ll have to follow the instructions on the fertilizer bag accordingly. This will help you fertilize the soil more effectively according to your needs.
Hydrate Your Soil Daily
Now it’s time to just water your lawn. This is the easiest step so far, but also the best way to ensure that the grass will grow adequately over time.
We recommend watering with a mister or with automatic sprinklers two or two times a day for about 20 minutes. In sunny and hot days, make sure to water for a little more time. And if you live in a dry area, make sure to water at least four or five times accordingly.
This is essential to help the grass thrive with enough hydration.
Monitor the Grass
This is the final step, and it’s all about keeping the grass growing. Watch the whole process; make sure nothing apart from grass is sprouting. If you see any sign of weeds, take them out immediately from the root. Re-soil and plant more grass if needed.
Once the grass is 3 inches or taller, you can start mowing the lawn to keep it low. Follow the same watering regime and make sure no weeds grow. If you do everything right, nothing apart from dark and green grass will sprout.
Keep your Lawn off Weeds!
Now you know how to fix a lawn full of weeds. Just follow our advice completely and take enough care of the yard. Whenever you see even the smallest sign of weeds, take it off before it’s too late. After some time doing this, you’ll have the greenest and healthiest lawn.