When you’re waging a war on weeds, it can seem like there is a never-ending and confusing list of suggestions, techniques and products to help you figure out how to kill weeds. But what if it was easy to find the solution based on what your needs are? In this article, we’ll help you get to the root of your weed problem.
Different ways weeds grow and spread
Let’s start by taking a look at weeds in general. Annual weeds tend to have a weak, shallow root system and can often be pulled after a good rain or watering, never to be seen again, especially if you take care of the problem before it sets out seed. Creeping weeds, such as crabgrass, spread using root-like shoots that allow it to creep across the ground. You’ll need to pull all of the plant, including the bits that have spread out, in order to wipe it out.
Some plants have a multi-year lifecycle. Biennial plants such as thistles and many aster-family weeds put out a rosette of leaves the first year and send up a flower stalk the second, with a strong taproot that must be removed to stop recurrences from happening. Perennials have a combination of the above characteristics, and beating up their root systems may only make more small plants for the next year as each piece of root puts up its own stalk.
Killing weeds while keeping pets safe
If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of weeds while keeping pets safe, it can seem like a difficult job. Taking a more natural approach to find a weed killer safe for dogs is often as simple as investigating your kitchen cabinet. Vinegar, salt, boiling water and corn gluten are three very common natural weed killers. Here’s how to kill weeds using these safe substances::
- Vinegar works by acidifying and burning the plant. You’ll need to apply a vinegar that has a minimum of 6% acetic acid content, which is stronger than most regular vinegar. Finding a vinegar produced for housekeeping will typically have a stronger concentration, and a 15-20% concentration is ideal. Spray it on, being careful to avoid hitting other plants you want to keep.
- Salt works well by drying plants out and can be sprinkled on the weed in question. The problem with using salt is that, like vinegar, it can damage nearby plants and leave the soil infertile until the concentration in the soil is low enough to allow plants to grow again.
- Boiling water works by causing severe damage to the plant cells, preventing it from recovering easily. This can be very effective against stubborn weeds.
- Corn gluten acts as a natural pre emergent herbicide that helps keep crabgrass and other annual weeds under control. Distribute it at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and you’ll also get 2 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer in addition.
Killing stubborn weeds
If your lawn’s issue is figuring out how to kill thistle weeds or the best dandelion weed killer, you need to take a multi-step approach. Many biennials have a large, starchy taproot that stores energy up from one year to the next. This means that even using a commercial grade weed killer that only acts on the surfaces it contacts won’t cause enough damage to kill the weed; it will just use the energy resources in the root to regrow its green leaves and start the cycle all over again. Here’s the best way to get rid of weeds with a strong taproot:
Start by either weeding after a good rain or after watering your lawn. This helps loosen up the soil, making it much easier to pull the weed. If it still won’t come out, try using a metal rod, often called a rock bar or a spud puller, to loosen up the soil at the sides of the root without breaking the root apart, and then pull it out. In some situations, such as rocky soil or a weed with an extensive root system, you may just need to dig it out entirely.
Killing weeds in your lawn
When you’re figuring out how to get rid of weeds in your lawn, you run into the problem of having to know how to kill weeds without killing grass. One approach to this is by using a selective herbicide, one that will kill broadleaf weeds by attacking specific enzymes and reactions found in broadleaves but not in grasses. Of course, if you’re having to eliminate a grassy weed, such as crabgrass, an herbicide that kills broadleaves won’t have any effect on it.
One of the best ways to deal with grass weeds is by using a pre emergent herbicide. This type of herbicide stops weed seeds from successfully germinating in an established lawn. Because your intended grass has already sprouted and is growing, applying a pre emergent keeps weeds from popping up in the first place. However, there are specific times that preemergent herbicides must be used, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
When to use weed killers
It’s a tough question, figuring out when to apply weed killer to your lawn. Sunny days, rainy days, before a weed starts growing, while it’s growing quickly – it quickly becomes an issue of having to track so many elements that it seems like an exercise in frustration. Here are some simple rules to help you plan your herbicide applications:
- Preemergent herbicides must be applied during specific temperatures, when crabgrass is ready to sprout. For spring and summer control, after your cool season grasses have sprouted, you’ll want to apply it at
- Contact herbicides should be applied when you’ll have dry weather for a couple days. Because they act on the surface of the plant, they have to stay in contact with it. If it rains after an application, the herbicide can be washed off, lessening its effect on the weed you’re trying to get rid of and possibly washing onto other plants you want growing.
- Systemic herbicides need to be able to circulate through the plant, so applying it before a rain or watering it in according to the label’s directions is important. If there’s no moisture to carry the herbicide through the plant, it won’t be as effective and may degrade before the next rainstorm waters it into the plant.
Now that we’ve discussed what kills weeds best in your lawn, why not try a few of these techniques and find out how effective they can be? Your yard will look fabulous and weed-free in no time!