Tips on dealing with weed problems

If you love your lawn but are dealing with unsightly weed problems, here are tips for handling jobs, both big and small.

Tips on dealing with weed problems

1. Small fixes

  • Use a trowel or a weeding knife to dig up dandelions and other weeds with taproots. If you have a pervasive weed problem, you may need to bring in the big guns: herbicides. These are potent chemicals — always follow manufacturers' safety and usage guidelines.
  • If you want to minimize potential damage to your lawn, consider a spot spray herbicide.
  • Some people use paintbrushes to apply the herbicide directly to the weeds, though this could get tedious.
  • Keep an eye on the mercury: The risk of damaging your lawn increases as the temperature rises.

2. How to do a full lawn renovation

  • If more than half of your lawn consists of bare patches, invasive grasses, or weeds, it's easier to start anew than it is to repair the damage.
  • A complete lawn renovation takes 15 to 20 days and should be done in the early fall for cold-season grasses, or in the late spring for warm-season grasses. Here are the steps to follow for a complete lawn overhaul:
  • Kill the old grass and weeds. On a windless day, apply glyphosate or an organic weed-and-grass killer over the surface (add some food colouring to the weed killer to see where you've sprayed). After a week, inspect the lawn; if you see living plants, apply another round.
  • Mow your lawn using the mower's lowest possible setting. Normally, you would follow the "one-third rule": never cut more than one-third of the height of the grass. But not in this case.
  • Till the earth to a depth of 10 to 15 centimetres (four to six inches).
  • Rake vigorously to remove rocks and debris, and create a level planting surface.
  • Mix a slow-release 3-1-2 fertilizer into the soil.
  • Use a drop spreader to over-seed your new lawn with one and a half times the recommended rate of seed.
  • Use a water-filled roller to tamp down the seed. This helps keep the seed moist between waterings by putting it in contact with the soil.
  • Water the lawn 10 to 15 minutes twice a day for two weeks until the seeds germinate.
  • Mow the grass when it is tall enough to be cut at your mower's highest setting.
  • Gradually cut back on watering once the grass has reached the desired density.
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