A healthy lawn will naturally discourage the growth of weeds.
My front lawn is mostly weeds, but I’d like to have grass. Where do I start? -Anita
Conquering a weedy lawn is quite a challenge! However, you can be successful if you keep one thing in mind: weeds are a signal that the grass in your yard isn’t happy. Simply spraying the weeds and planting more grass seed won’t solve the problem, because something’s causing the grass to die out. A healthy, thick lawn will naturally be low in weeds, and a weedy lawn needs lots of TLC to recover, usually in the form of soil improvement.
I found this out the hard way in my own yard when an inexperienced landscaper regraded my lawn with poor quality subsoil from a construction site. His argument was that the “sterile” soil was free of weed seeds, but I quickly learned that nothing would grow in that terrible soil EXCEPT weeds! Each year since, I have undertaken the steps I’ll explain below, to gradually correct that mistake.
To eliminate weeds from this lawn will take a lot of TLC!
Three Steps to a Weed Free Lawn
If you have the resources, you can always dig out the weeds and poor soil, bring in some high quality topsoil, and replant grass seed or sod. This can be expensive and requires some special equipment, so you may want the help of a licensed landscape contractor.
For a do-it-yourself approach, your best bet is to stop worrying so much about the weeds, and start worrying about your grass. If you focus on improving your soil and getting your grass healthy, many of the weeds will disappear on their own. If your soil and lawn are in really poor shape, it may take a few years to transform it, but you should see improvement each season.
Step 1: Yearly Lawn Makeover
Once a year – in the fall for cool-season grasses and spring for warm-season grasses – spend a weekend working on your lawn. When your lawn is healthy, you can back off to once every 3 or more years. Tasks include:
- Testing the soil
- Core aeration
- Adding soil amendments
- Planting grass seed or sod
Step 2: Regular Lawn Maintenance
Throughout the year, take steps to care for your lawn according to the season and grass type. Proper watering, fertilizing, and mowing will go a long way toward strengthening your lawn.
Step 3: Target Weeds
Once you have a nice stand of grass, you may still have problems with occasional persistent weeds. To find out how to eliminate weeds, check out How To Control Weeds In Your Lawn for more information about organic and chemical solutions to weeds in an otherwise healthy lawn.
Visit our Lawn Care section for a wealth of articles and information about growing different types of lawns.