Controlling Ugly New Jersey Weeds

There's something soothing about seeing an even expanse of green grass that seems to lower our blood-pressure a bit. And 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.

Controlling lawn weeds

Wild orchids growing in Hawaii are considered weeds there. 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.

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 is one such weed. Once these types of weeds take root, they are difficult to remove without harming the lawn. The ideal control prevents them from developing. We can apply a Pre-emergent Control in the spring to control this very invasive weed.

The way pre-emergents work is that the soil's surface is covered with a microscopic protective layer that prevents germinating crabgrass seeds from taking hold. If left undisturbed, this protective layer maintains its defensive qualities throughout the prime germinating period.

Weed types:


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 vigorously growing lawn that is mowed no closer than 2 1/2" for cool season grasses.

Pre-emergent applications made when soil temperature are still below 60 are the best prevention. Not recommended for areas where new grass seed is going to be planted during the first half of the growing season. Applications lose their effectiveness if the lawn is raked or disturbed during the first half of the growing season.


Broadleaf weed. Best treated during active growing cycle with a spot treatment. If you use a dry granular form of weed killer or a weed and feed type of fertilizer, apply it to wet grass and weeds. The weed control material must stick to the leaves of the weed plants to be effective. If you spray a liquid, apply it only on a calm day so material will not drift onto desirable plants.


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. Lime has often been suggested for moss control. Lime will raise the soil pH but will do little or nothing to prevent moss growth. The fact that the soil is acidic has little to do with the growth of moss. In fact, we see moss growing on limestone and concrete. If your lawn area is moist and shady, you will have difficulty controlling moss because you have an ideal environment for moss growth. Moss is often troublesome in spring when temperature are cool and soil moisture high.



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 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 grows 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. 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.


A warm-season perennial found throughout North America east of the Rockies. Invades cool-season grasses by seed or stems. It has shallow roots.

Thick sod 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 area.



Broadleaf plantain is a common broadleaf weed in lawns. See treatment and description for dandelions.


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