Get Rid of Weeds Without Harming Grass or Plants

Here are the best ways to kill weeds and prevent them from growing back again.

1. Manual Weeding
Hand pulling weeds is the ultimate quick kill, generally getting rid of the problem immediately.

Manual Weeding is a therapeutic process and still the most effective and environmentally considerate solution for managing weeds. Care needs to be taken with certain types of perennial weeds to ensure that the roots and stolons are eradicated, or it will regrow. Stolons are stems which grow at the soil surface or just below ground.

2. Herbicides
There are several non-selective herbicides (designed to kill any plant species it comes in contact with) that act fast, sometimes within twenty-four hours under the right environmental conditions.

The process is generally slower with selective herbicides (designed to kill certain types of weeds without harming other plants) as they often need to be more gentle to ensure that other plants and grass are not killed at the same time. Certain selective herbicides may take up to six weeks.

Pre-emergent herbicides can take multiple seasons to eradicate weeds in a lawn. Adopting a fertilization-only approach to boost the lawn can take years to be fully realized.

3. Weed Prevention
Pre-emergent weed treatment stops the seeds from germinating and spreading; thereby managing them before they emerge and flourish. Contact YardDoc to inquire about our pre-emergent weed control service.

Successful Weed Treatment

The first thing to understand is what type of weeds you are dealing with. Are they broadleaf or grassy weeds? Then, are they annual or perennial? An annual weed only lasts one year and grows from the prior season’s seeds. Perennial weeds, on the other hand, live for more than one year and regrow from previously established roots, dormant stolons, tubers, rhizomes and also from new seeds.

Next, you want to try to establish why they are flourishing. Determine if it is due to incorrect planting in that area (i.e. the wrong plants selected for that particular environment) or poor soil (i.e. lack of nutrients, inappropriate drainage, insufficient soil volume), too much sun or insufficient light, or possibly too much or too little water.

Is it a Weed or Not?

How to Kill Weeds - Austin TX - YardDoc - Dandelions in the LawnThe definition of a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted. In terms of taxonomy, the term “weed” has no actual botanical relevance as all weeds are plants. And a plant that is considered a weed, in a particular context, is not considered a weed when it grows where it is wanted!

A great example, depending on the context, is Bermuda grass. If you have planted a Bermuda grass lawn, then Bermuda is a desired plant. If you have a St. Augustine lawn and your neighbor’s Bermuda lawn is spreading runners into your lawn, then you will almost certainly consider Bermuda a weed.

Another great example is the dandelion, which is a common plant all over the world. If you are accustomed to caring for dandelions as a vegetable or for its medicinal purposes, then you would consider it a plant. If it was growing in your lawn, you would probably consider it a weed.

Dandelions actually bring up nutrients like nitrogen and calcium from deeper in the soil. Dandelions are also good at breaking up compacted soils, which benefit other plants that grow in their vicinity. But again, if this is happening in your manicured lawn, you would probably still consider dandelions to be weeds.

Treatment Considerations

  • Put Weeds in Context
    First, understand the context–are you dealing with weeds in a food crop, a fiber crop, a golf course or commercial setting, or a residential garden bed. These factors determine when to treat, and also how you would go about treating them. The considerations around treating weeds in a commercial crop would include factors like herbicide residues on food crops and calculating the economic treatment point, whereas weeds in a lawn or garden are generally aesthetic considerations.
  • Lawn Health
    As mentioned, a healthy dense lawn is the best defense against a weed invasion. So rather than treating them, the strategy may be to boost the lawn through composting and or fertilization, for example, as opposed to directly targeting the weeds.
  • Grass Type
    Different turf grass require different approaches to handle weeds in the lawn. Additionally, consider if the grass type is optimal for that particular location, taking account of the amount of light or shade, soil quality, and watering opportunities.
  • Plant Type
    A different strategy could be employed to treat annual weeds than what would be done for perennial ones. Annuals can be stopped through pre-emergent weed treatments that stop seeds germinating. They could also be stopped by cutting and removing (bagging in a lawn) seed heads and thereby stopping the development of the next generation of weeds. Herbicide treatments are often designed to be used on a particular type, but care needs to be taken to ensure that the specific herbicide is not harmful to the host plant or grass type.
  • Mulching
    Mulch, stone, or other barriers can be used as an effective way to manage certain types of weeds. Thick mulch is a very effective natural solution.
  • Irrigation
    Watering is another factor. Sedges are a common weed that are often an indication that the area is being over-watered. Less frequent and deeper watering is a good way to help prevent the development of new weeds.
  • Austin Climate
    Temperature and rainfall affect the types of weed growth and how hardy they are.

Why Do Weeds Grow?

Weed Growing in Bare Spot in Lawn - Austin TX - YardDoc 200x200Weeds are opportunistic and thrive when conditions are favorable, as do other plants. Favorable conditions can include aspects such as temperature, moisture levels, and extent of competition. Bare dirt or thin grass areas, for example, are ideal habitats for weeds to flourish with a bit of moisture and enough sunlight.

In the same way that a new tree struggles to get established in a healthy forest, so too do weeds struggle to take hold in a thick healthy lawn. Conversely, they thrive in thinning grass or bare patches. If the grass is cut too short, it may end up being more susceptible to weed growth.

The best way to prevent weeds is to have thick, tall, dense grass all over your lawn.

Where Do They Come From?

The battle against weeds is generally an ongoing one due to the many ways they can get into your lawn or garden. But once you are on top of the problem, it is a lot easier to manage. The key is to treat early and adopt a preventative treatment strategy, to include pre-emergent treatments and fertilization.

Wind. Weed seeds can blow in from a neighbor’s lawn or garden. In some cases, seeds can blow in from hundreds of miles away given the right conditions.

Rain. Rainfall and run-off water washing seeds in is a fairly common occurrence.

Bird and animal droppings. The seed is consumed and then spread sometimes over considerable distances as the animals move around their territories.

Carrier seeds. An example is burs and thorns carried in via a dog’s fur or even on the soles of peoples shoes.

Creep. Weeds growing and spreading from one area to another.

Propulsion. Some seed pods literally explode and shoot seeds a considerable distance.

In situ seeds. This often happens when new soil, plants, compost, or mulch is brought into a property and there are weed seeds in that material. Seeds can lie dormant for decades only to germinate when favorable conditions present themselves.

YardDoc Lawn Care Services

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YardDoc landscaping and lawn care service area involves all of Travis County including Austin, Barton Creek, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Lakeway, Leander, Lost Creek, Pflugerville, Rollingwood, Round Rock, Spanish Oaks, Spicewood, Steiner Ranch, Tarrytown, and West Lake Hills.