You’re looking at your lawn, and thinking there’s a few too many weeds in there. Before grabbing that bag of chemicals, learn more about what the weeds are telling you, and use easy, organic methods to increase your grass and decrease (or appreciate) your weeds.
Especially in sunny conditions, and with healthy soils, grass is extremely competitive, and cared for properly, will out-compete most weeds, so encouraging a dense stand of grass is critical. The two easiest ways are to let you grass remain long, and create a denser cover of grass. Tall grass helps shade the ground, preventing sun from reaching to soil, where weed seeds might germinate. Mow higher than 3″ with sharp blades, and always leave your grass clippings behind. And overseed (instead of “weed and feed”) your grass whenever it is thin or bare. In the spring use annual ryegrass to fill in thin areas and shade out weeds, and it will die back just in the summer, creating space to overseed perennial turf grasses in the fall.
While low or thin grass may be a problem, weeds can also be a sign of nutrient imbalances in the soil, much of which can be corrected with organic amendments like compost. Examples include dandelions, that can thrive in soils that are low in calcium, and plantain can be a sign of low nitrogen or phosphorus. But most lawn weeds share two things in common: compacted soils, and low nutrient fertility. Take a soil test, and check for soil compaction–if you cannot easily push a screwdriver in the soil, it is compacted. Focus on aerating compacted soils, and feeding the soil with organic amendments.
So what’s really a “weed” in your lawn? Perhaps dandelions and violets add a sprinkle of color to your lawn in the spring, and nectar for pollinators? How about making some ice cream from dandelion flowers or violet infused vinegar? Maybe that winter chickweed or summer purslane will make a tasty addition to your edible wild salad? And clover is almost critical in a lawn, to capture and convert nitrogen from the air, while also being an important summer source of nectar for pollinators. A few weeds in a lawn is all about just learning to appreciate a diverse look and the function of various plants. But if weeds are so abundant that you have large bare patches when the weeds are dead, focus on increasing your grass coverage. Find out more on our lawn care webpages.