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Choosing the Right Weed Control

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Weeds seem to be happiest when your lawn is at its worst. So how do you choose among the dozens of weed control options for wiping out those unwelcome plants?

All weed killers are not alike. Here are some tips for making the right weed control choice, the first time around.
How would you like to improve your lawn?
  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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Tip #1 -- Know Your Weeds

Some weed killers work on anything. Non-selective herbicides will kill dandelions, crabgrass, you name it. The only problem is that they also kill your lawn. For many weeds, a selective herbicide that kills the weeds and not your lawn will do the trick. Figure out what you've got, and look for an herbicide to match.

Tip #2 -- Know Your Family

If you have small children, pets, or are concerned about the potential hazards of herbicides, it's important to do your research. Following the directions explicitly will help ensure your family's safety, but alternatives to chemical weed killers may be even more appealing. A healthy lawn is the best defense, since lush grass will crowd out weeds. But pulling out weeds by hand often works well, and natural weed killers, like corn gluten, are available from a number of suppliers.

Tip #3 -- Time it Right

For some weeds, like crabgrass, weed killers that target the plants before they germinate are the best bet. These preemergence herbicides, however, only work if you spread them in the week or two right before the weeds come in. You'll have to do some research to figure out the timing for your area. For other weeds, a postemergence herbicide in the fall is best.

Doing your research and understanding your lawn problems will help you choose the best form of weed control for your lawn.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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