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Weed Control for New Lawns

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

When you have a delicate new lawn, the appearance of threatening weeds can set off alarms in your head. Save Lawn NOW, you think. Watch out, though, because the thing you might be tempted to do -- spray the offending plants -- is exactly wrong. If you combine herbicide and new grass, you wind up with dead grass. So what to do? Here's a guide for successfully dealing with those weeds, new lawn and all.
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  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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Kill the Weeds First

If you don't want new weeds popping up in your new lawn, practicing some effective weed control before you spread the seed is a good strategy. But keep in mind that if you kill off existing weeds with an herbicide, you'll have to wait a few weeks (30 days with some herbicides) before seeding. Because of this, other weed control methods like cutting the weeds off from sunlight by covering them with thick black plastic for a week or two are worth considering.

Watch Out for Topsoil and Straw

Many homeowners buy truckloads of new topsoil for their yards before seeding. While the soil may be nice and nutrient-rich, it can also contain weeds, either as seeds or as vegetative starts. Be careful about what you buy. The same is true for the straw that many homeowners spread over their seeds to protect them from weather, birds, etc. Make sure it's clean straw, not hay, otherwise you'll be welcoming weeds to your perfectly prepped lot.

Hands-On Weed Control

If you pull weeds by hand, you'll get the offending plants without killing your lawn. Remember, though, that it's best to keep off new lawns until they've established themselves, so wait at least a couple of weeks before manual weeding.

Be Patient

Weeds are almost guaranteed to pop up in your new lawn. One of the best strategies is simply to calm down, realize they're not going to take over completely, and spray them once your lawn has matured. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you've mowed your new lawn at least three times. After that, zap those weeds without worry.

Overzealous weed control in a new lawn is a guaranteed disaster, but with a little prep, a little weeding here and there, and a little patience, your new lawn will be in great shape in no time.


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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