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Controlling Invasive Weeds in Your Lawn

There is something soothing about seeing an even expanse of green grass that seems to lower our blood-pressure a bit. Moreover, to some people, when that expanse is broken up by something growing where it shouldn't be growing, it seems to raise it a notch or two. Weeds are just one type of plant that we have decided shouldn't be growing in one particular place.

Weed-type plants

Wild orchids growing in Hawaii are considered as wildflowers. It's just your point of view as to what makes a weed, a weed. Some weed-type plants are very invasive and fast growing. Their growth habit overtakes our cultivated turf plants, depriving them of food and water.

Fast Growing Plants

Some common lawn weeds are annuals. Sprouting from seeds, they develop, blossom and form new seeds, and then die in the fall, repeating the process each year.

Crabgrass is one such wild plant, which is invasive and fast growing. Once these types of weeds take root, they are difficult to remove without harming the lawn. The ideal control prevents them from developing.

Pre-Emergent Control

We can apply a pre-emergent control in the spring to control this and other invasive weeds. The way pre-emergent control works is by covering the soil's surface with a microscopic protective layer, which prevents germinating crabgrass seeds from taking hold. If left undisturbed, this protective layer maintains its defensive qualities throughout the prime germinating period.

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Some common lawn weeds are annuals:

Sprouting from seeds

They develop

Blossom and form new seeds

Then die in the fall

Repeating the process each year

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grass, which grows best in the heat of midsummer when desirable lawn grasses are often semi-dormant and offer little or no competition. Crabgrass overwinters as seed, comes up about mid-May or later, and is killed by the first hard frost in fall.

Crabgrass grows best in full sun. It does not grow in shady places. Crabgrass can be controlled in a number of ways, but the best defense against crabgrass is a thick and vigorously growing lawn.

We have a special application which is applied at the beginning of the growing season that puts down a protective barrier that stops crabgrass from developing. This application has been highly effective at preventing crabgrass from showing up in your lawn later in the season.

If you already have crabgrass growing, then we can also treat for that. If you had a crabgrass problem last year, then you most likely will have one again this year. Let us put an end to that cycle.

Dandelions

Dandelions belong to the broadleaf weed category and are best treated during the active growing cycle with a spot treatment. We will treat for these whenever we see them using what is called a spot treatment.

Moss

Moss does not develop in healthy lawns. Lack of fertility, soil compaction, poor drainage, shade, and poor soil aeration are the most common cause of moss in lawns. Moss is not directly harmful to grass but moves into bare spots in the lawn as the grass thins out. In the lawn area where the conditions are more moist and shady, moss may be a problem since this is an ideal environment for moss growth. Moss is often troublesome in spring when the temperature is cool and soil moisture high.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms, also called toadstools or puffballs, are fruiting bodies of soil fungi. They appear in lawns during wet weather in spring and summer. Mushrooms live on organic matter such as rotting roots, stumps, and boards in the soil. Most don't harm the lawn but are unsightly. Mushrooms that grow in arcs or circles of dark green grass are called fairy rings. The arcs or rings enlarge from 3 inches to 2 feet each season as the fungi grow outward. The fairy ring fungus may interfere with water flow through the soil and stress the lawn.

There is no chemical control for mushrooms. Time is the best cure. Once the buried wood has completely decayed, the mushrooms will disappear. You can break mushrooms with a garden rake or lawn mower for temporary control. This helps to dry the mushrooms and reduces the risk of children eating them. Control individual mushrooms by removing the organic matter. Dig up and remove the wood. Fill and reseed, or sod, as needed.

Nimblewill

Nimblewill is a perennial found throughout much of the area. It is quite a common weed east of the Rockies.

A thick, healthy lawn reduces the opportunity for it to take hold, however, in thin areas, or surrounding garden beds, it can quickly spread into lawn areas. Remove the plants by pulling out by hand. Nimblewill sets seeds in early fall; then lay dormant until next spring.

Once it takes hold, there is no selective control for removing it from the lawn. Must use a non-selective herbicide that will kill all plants, then reseed the area.

Plantain

Broadleaf plantain is a common broadleaf weed in lawns, and like dandelions, we will treat for this type of weed whenever we see it.

Broadleaf weeds are common in many areas simply because their seeds are so easily dispersed. Some weed seeds such as the dandelion can be carried great distances in a breeze. Others, such as plantain seed are consumed by birds and other animals that are then transferred and deposited through their droppings.