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Don't Be Lazy About Eliminating Lawn Weeds

by Brett Freeman, All About Lawns Columnist

Here's the thing about most lawn weeds: they thrive under different conditions than grass. Springtime is generally ideal for your lawn. There's plenty of rain, temperatures are moderate, and by mid-May your grass is thriving. And if you're like most people, you get a little complacent.
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  • Less weeds
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As conditions get drier and hotter you might notice the occasional dandelion here or clover patch there, or maybe a few clumps of crabgrass, but it's no big deal. It's all still green, right? It looks fine right after you mow it. But in fact it is a big deal, because for the rest of the summer, growing conditions should be more favorable for the weeds than for your grass.

Lawn Spraying: The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Once weeds begin to appear in your lawn, it's typically too late to use a pre-emergent to fight them. The best option at this point is lawn spraying. Choose a product designed to kill weeds but not grass, and read the label to make sure that it is effective against the particular weeds that have infiltrated your lawn. If you have crabgrass, which is particularly hard to kill, look for a spray that advertises its effectiveness against crabgrass on the front of the label, and not just in the fine print.

In general, you want to start by spraying your entire lawn, while making sure to target any visible weeds. This might not always be possible, though, because if temperatures are over 85 degrees, the spray may kill your grass as well as the weeds. If you live in an area where daytime temperatures are in the upper 80s or higher, don't wait, but also don't broadcast spray. Instead, set your sprayer to emit a narrow stream and spot spray any visible weeds, dousing them thoroughly. If you have patches of clover, you can set the sprayer to mist, but don't spray too heavily. You want the spray to bead up on the clover leaves, but not drip down onto the grass below.

Eliminating Weeds: Stay on the Attack

About two weeks after your initial spray, walk your lawn again and spot spray any new or remaining weeds. Depending on the kind of foothold the weeds got, you may need to continue to do this all summer, or at least until the temperatures drop and the rain returns, tilting the field in your lawn's favor once again.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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