UGA Extension- Decatur County
Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent
Weeds can be major pests of home lawns. Due to differences in color, leaf size, shape and growth habit, weeds detract from the natural beauty of desirable turfgrasses. Additionally, weeds compete with turfgrasses for sunlight, soil moisture, nutrients and space. Many weeds can quickly become the dominant species in a lawn. In order to control weeds in the home lawn, there are three primary methods of control. To consistently control lawn weeds, combining all three methods is best practice.
The first control method is to follow cultural practices. Weeds do not easily infiltrate turfgrasses that are properly watered and fertilized, and that are mowed at the correct height and correct frequency. Weeds appear mainly in bare or thin areas, which may be occurring because of one or more of the following:
• Use of non-adapted turfgrasses.
• Improper fertilization.
• Improper watering.
• Improper mowing
• Failure to control diseases and/or insects
• Excessive amounts of thatch.
The impact of proper cultural practices for lawn weed control cannot be overemphasized. Properly maintained turfgrasses are more competitive with weeds than turfgrasses that do not receive good cultural practices. The use of herbicides without following approved cultural practices will not result in a high quality, weed-free lawn. Visit. www.georgiaturf.com for additional information about turfgrass maintenance practices.
Many weed species do not tolerate frequent mowing. Following mowing cutting height and frequency guidelines can limit development of many weeds; however, it is not effective for control of most perennial weeds. It can also be time consuming. Hand-pulling a “strange” or “new” weed, like henbit as seen in figure 1, as it first appears in the lawn will help prevent the spread of that weed.
A herbicide is a chemical used to control weed growth and development. Before a herbicide is labeled for use in home lawns, it is thoroughly investigated by chemical companies, land-grant universities and various regulatory agencies. At rates required for weed control, the herbicide must be proven safe to humans, the environment and turfgrasses. Herbicides are important components of a lawn weed control program. Herbicides should be applied at specific times of the year and will control only certain weed species. Many herbicides cannot be used on every turfgrass species. The product label is the best reference for safe and effective use of any herbicide. Always read the label prior to using turfgrass herbicides.
In conclusion, using all three methods- cultural, mechanical and herbicides- is the best way to manage turfgrass weeds in the home lawn.
Additional information can be found in the UGA Extension publication ‘Weed Control in Home Lawns’.
The information for this article was provided by ‘Weed Control in Home Lawns’ publication.
Figure 1: Weeds like henbit don’t have long taproots and can be easily pulled or hoed from turfgrass.