9 Best Practices to Control Weeds in Your Lawn

Weeds are a common presence in lawns. While they can contribute to their biodiversity, weeds can become problematic when they start to invade and dominate. Initially, weeding can be quite a satisfying process, as you see immediate results. However, this satisfaction can easily dissipate as the relentless nature of weeds takes up increasingly more of your time in lawn maintenance.

Although weed control is an ongoing process, there are several preventive measures you can take to manage weeds more effectively. By focusing on prevention, these strategies can help you maintain a healthy, well-groomed lawn with less effort, leaving more time to relax and appreciate your outdoor space.

What are Weeds and Why You Should Control Them

Weeds are any plants that grow where you don't intend them to, disrupting the appearance of your lawn. For example, flowers like dandelions, while lovely in other settings, become unwelcome intruders when they sprout amidst your grass.

Weed seeds can lie dormant for years, germinating and growing when they reach the soil surface and receive adequate sunlight and moisture. They can spread in various ways, such as being dispersed by wind, animals, lawn equipment, poor-quality grass seed, and even your lawn maintenance practices.

These unwanted vegetation can affect plant growth by competing for water, sunlight, nutrients, and space. They tend to grow aggressively, often overpowering juvenile grass. This competition is why lawn solutions like grass plugs and sod are more effective in controlling weeds than seeds, providing an immediate cover, which helps suppress weed growth by limiting the available space and resources weeds require to establish themselves.

If left unchecked, weeds can also become hosts for various pests and diseases. This can lead to more manual labor and maintenance, as controlling pests and diseases becomes an additional effort. Overall, maintaining a weed-free lawn helps prevent these issues, allowing grass to thrive without the extra burden of battling unwanted invaders.


How to Control Weeds

The key to managing weeds in your lawn is creating an optimal environment for healthy grass growth. Several lawn conditions can increase the risk of weed development—incorrect watering, improper fertilization, soil compaction, bare patches, pests and diseases, and improper sunlight. By addressing these issues, you can cultivate a dense, healthy lawn that naturally suppresses weeds, making your lawn maintenance efforts more effective and less time-consuming.


Raking your lawn regularly can help keep creeping weeds, like ground ivy and dollar weed, at bay. By removing debris and preventing these invasive plants, raking supports healthy soil conditions and keeps weeds manageable.

Mow at Proper Heights

Warm-season grass varieties like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine perform best when maintained at a height of 2-2.5 inches. Mow often enough to keep them at this height without removing more than one-third of the grass length in a single session. This encourages denser, more vigorous growth, leaving no space for weeds to thrive.

Avoid Mowing Too Short

Another reason to keep your grass at the proper height is that mowing too short can weaken your lawn, resulting in sparse growth that invites weeds. Short mowing also reduces your lawn's ability to shade the soil's surface from sunlight, increasing the risk of weed germination.

Plant Grass Plugs

Grass plugs are a convenient solution for filling in bare or sparse areas in your lawn. These mature grass plants with healthy roots ensure faster establishment than seeds. While you can plant plugs at any time of the year, planting in spring aligns with the grass's active growing season. This helps establish a thick, resilient lawn that reduces the chances of weeds taking hold.


Mind the Gaps

Weeds usually emerge from bare spots in your lawn. By planting grass plugs about 9-18 inches apart, you can close these weed-friendly gaps and prevent weeds from sprouting. As the grass plugs establish and spread, they will fill these spaces, effectively crowding out potential weeds.


Using NutriPod® lawn fertilizer when planting grass plugs can accelerate growth up to two times faster. Its slow-release formula provides a gradual and steady supply of essential nutrients. Unlike traditional lawn fertilizers, it reduces the risk of over-fertilizing and nutrient leaching, which can trigger weed growth. NutriPod® supports healthy soil and strong grass development, making it harder for weeds to establish themselves.

Minimize Soil Disturbance

Weed seeds are present in most lawns, but only those near the soil surface receiving enough light will germinate. Disturbing your soil can bring weed seeds to the surface, increasing the likelihood of germination. Minimize soil disturbance by digging only when necessary. Use a grass plug tool like the SodPods® Power Planter to create precise, uniform holes for planting plugs, ensuring minimal disruption to your lawn.


Mulch benefits plants by covering the soil, keeping it cool and moist while depriving weeds of light. Apply mulch about two inches deep and replace it as necessary to maintain effectiveness. Overall, mulching helps kill weeds and supports overall lawn health.

Aerate and Dethatch as Necessary

Aerating and dethatching break up soil compaction and remove thatch buildup, respectively. These measures encourage grass to grow more vigorously and absorb essential nutrients from the soil, making it more difficult for weeds to establish themselves.


Removing Weeds by Hand

Removing unwanted plants manually is the most selective and eco-friendly way to manage weeds. Pull out weeds as soon as they appear to prevent them from spreading across your lawn. To do this, grab the weed at the base and lift out as much of the root as possible. For weeds with extensive roots, use a garden fork or another hand held weeding tool to loosen the surrounding soil, then grasp the weed from the crown and pull out the entire root system. When digging holes, keep the hole as small as possible to minimize soil disturbance.

When you can't remove all the weeds, an alternative is to chop off their heads to reduce the risk of reseeding and limit their spread. This method is particularly effective for annual weeds, giving you more time before they can produce seeds. You can maintain a healthier, weed-free lawn without using harsh chemicals by consistently removing or cutting back weeds.

Removing Weeds Using Herbicides

In severe cases of weed infestation or in large lawns where manual weed removal may not be practical, you may opt to use weed control treatments. Herbicides can effectively eliminate weeds when applied correctly at the right time and amount.

Herbicides can be selective or non-selective. Selective herbicides target only specific plants, allowing you to remove weeds without harming your desired plants. This is recommended for established lawns. Meanwhile, non-selective herbicides kill vegetation without discretion—weeds and other plants included— which makes them ideal for use when establishing a new lawn. However, it's crucial to plan your weed treatment at least three weeks ahead to ensure it doesn't interfere with the growth of your new grass.

Moreover, herbicides are either pre-emergent or post-emergent. Pre-emergent herbicides are applied before the targeted weed germinates to create a chemical barrier that keeps weeds from successfully growing. On the other hand, post-emergents are applied later in the growing season, after weeds are established but before they have gone to seed.

Weed treatments can be an effective tool for maintaining a healthy, weed-free lawn. But, as always, read and follow packaging instructions when using any weed killer. Seek professional advice for large or severe infestations.

Final Thoughts

Weed control is essential for maintaining a healthy and appealing lawn. You can effectively manage weed populations by integrating manual removal, proper mowing, and strategic herbicide use into your lawn care routine. This approach ensures that only your desired vegetation thrives, allowing you to enjoy a lush, green lawn for years.

For more lawn care and fertilizing tips, read our blog on the NutriPod® website.

The traditional methods of fertilizing plants can often be messy, inaccurate, and detrimental to the ecosystem.

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