You’re in the midst of a turf war, and the enemies are invading from every angle— creeping in from neighbor territories and dropping in from the skies. They may only hold the low ground, but that’s their field of expertise. They’re weeds...and they’re not afraid to fight dirty! Aside from being fertile ground for bad puns, a military invasion is an apt illustration when it comes to explaining the challenges faced by homeowners and lawn care companies. Weeds really are constantly seeking to invade your lawn anywhere they can, and unless you mount a strong defense, they will eventually succeed. So let’s consider how weeds spread, why they’re so difficult to control, and what can be done to minimize their presence.
Where Weeds Come From
Because many weeds spread by dispersing thousands of seeds, the only chance of their survival in a new territory is to land in an area without too much competition for sunlight and water. This makes thin or diseased areas of your lawn especially vulnerable to attack. Once a weed infiltrates your property, it weakens surrounding turf by stealing food and sunlight, thus allowing for further invasion. And to make matters worse, weeds are also accomplished survivalists with an ability to thrive in harsh conditions that lawn grasses can’t handle. Compact soil may be a problem for turf grasses, but weeds like thistle and dandelion have no problem burrowing right in. Dry patches due to poor irrigation pose no threat to drought-tolerant crabgrass and sandbur. Conversely, overwatering is dangerous as well. Although damp areas may cause fungus and disease in your grass, dollarweed and chickweed will thrive nicely here. Each of these weak points is an opportunity for another weed to sneak in; and without a proper defense, your lawn may quickly be conquered.
Managing Weeds and Expectations
So what’s the key to a strong defense? Keep your turf thick, healthy, and well-fed! You can accomplish this with a properly executed fertilization program. If you don’t have a professional service, adjust your feedings throughout the year in response to turf growth and weather patterns. Herbicide applications are also important, especially in situations where there are several large problem areas. Just keep in mind that some herbicides take time to work, so you may need to be patient with results. Proper watering is also extremely important, as both too much and too little will lead to problems.
Also, watering deeply and infrequently is best, as this encourages deep root growth, which is crucial for healthy turf. But even this comprehensive plan of attack won’t mean an overnight victory. This is especially true if you already have an existing problem. Always expect weed control to take some time and remember that it’s normal to find a few weeds in your lawn every now and again. You might liken this to your own health: Exercise and a healthy diet will certainly minimize health problems, but you wouldn’t expect to never get sick again. Likewise, keeping your lawn healthy will decrease the chance of infection (so to speak) but weed management will always be an ongoing practice. Even as you read, weeds are probing your lawn for weaknesses. Some are in the air, some are creeping slowly underground from nearby properties, and some are lying dormant like sleeper cells waiting for just the right conditions to make their ambush. But don’t worry; with the right maintenance practices and a reliable control program, you’ll continue to banish any encroaching invaders and emerge victorious!