For years, chemical weed killer has been a part of nearly everyone’s lawn care routine. Products commonly used have ranged from pre-emergent crabgrass control to weed-and-feed fertilizer-weedkiller combinations, to broadleaf weed killer containing 2, 4-D, to the ubiquitous and controversial glyphosate (RoundUp)—killer of all plants. These harsh chemicals have become such a way of life that you can sometimes find entire neighborhoods smelling like 2,4-D after the lawn service has passed through.
There are more organic products on the market than ever, and as demand increases so does the effort to find more organic alternatives to conventional weed control.
One advantage of systematically removing weeds by hand is that it provides a means of aerating the lawn. An hour or so of weeding after every lawn-mowing session will pockmark your yard with small holes where the weeds have been removed, providing the same benefit as running an aerator machine over the lawn. Weeding by hand keeps you in close contact with the health of your lawn, and those who do it regularly often find that it is not much of a burden. It can also be a good way to keep kids engaged in lawn work.
The most common homebrew using some combination of vinegar (1 gallon), salt (1 cup), and/or soap (1 tablespoon). There are numerous variations on the recipe but the resulting concoction is usually a pretty good non-selective weed killer. The acetic acid of the vinegar goes to work disrupting the cells of the plant while the salt desiccates the tissue and the soap aids in allowing the mixture to stick to the plant. Its effectiveness can be improved with stronger vinegar concentrations—most store-bought vinegar is 5 percent acetic acid, but concentrations of up to 20 percent can be found. Plants with hairs or waxy coatings may not be completely eradicated by the vinegar concoction.
Although it is regarded as hard labor by some people, one of the most effective ways to control lawn weeds is a truly old-fashioned way—removing them by hand. This can be a lot of work if your lawn is plagued by many weeds, but after doing it steadily over time, you will gradually find that weed infestations diminish as you remove weeds before they can bloom and set seed. Pay particular attention to removing weeds before they flower. The most common example is dandelion, which can scatter thousands of seeds if the pretty yellow flowers are allowed to ripen, dry, and set seeds.
The idea of organic weed control is compelling. It’s understandable that people might worry about the safety of chemical-based products. We know you want your weeds gone, but also you want to feel that your kids and pets are safe playing on your lawn. Keep reading to learn more about your best bets when it comes to organic weed control in lawns.
Kemko Lawn & Shrub is a trusted source of information for Atlanta’s organic weed control needs. With more than 30 years of experience bringing Atlanta’s lawns to life, we know what it will take to get you the thick, green lawn you really want. Our team is eager to answer your questions about organic lawn care and anything else you want to know about weed control.
Start with Organic Fertilizers
There are products on the market that allow homeowners to kill their weeds with the power of steam. They work much like the steam machines you might use to take the wrinkles out of your delicate clothing. It looks a bit like an old vacuum, but the tank holds tap water that’s super-heated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. You simply point the rigid hose down at your weeds and pull the trigger.
One problem with these weed control methods is that they do nothing to prevent weed seeds from spreading and sprouting. These weed removal methods can also leave pieces of the roots alive in the ground, and it’s just a matter of time before they regenerate another weed above the soil’s surface.
Kemko offers a complimentary, no-obligation estimate to all of our new clients. We make it easy for you to gather information and comparison shop for a trustworthy lawn care expert. All you have to do is complete our online form, and one of our teammates will get back to you as fast as possible.
There is no quick fix, magic spray weed killer in organic lawn care. Organic weed control is more about the holistic organic management of the lawn and soil, which results in fewer weeds. The theory (and practice) being that a healthy lawn and soil will promote turf growth which will out-compete weeds.
Henbit Annual Poe (Bluegrass) Many of your cool season weeds, but not all weeds, will die out when the temperatures get to be in the mid to upper 80 degree mark. Henbit, annual poe (bluegrass), and other cool season weeds will naturally die off in the warmer temperatures, especially if they get direct sunlight. When the temperature warms up, usually April/May, mow and bag your lawn to 3/4 an inch shorter than normal for two weeks in a row. Put down a high nitrogen organic fertilizer or corn gluten meal, and your weeds will naturally die and disappear.
Weeding by Hand
Correct cultivation practices must be performed to reduce the opportunity for weeds to thrive. Weeds thrive on weak, stressed out turf and compacted, unhealthy soil. Eliminate those conditions and grass will win over weeds.
Organic weed control is much more than killing weeds safely. It is first about growing healthy turf in fertile soil and minimizing weed pressure. Organic weed control is further achieved by using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to establish weed thresholds, prevent weeds, and eradicate as a last resort.
We recommend that you diligently follow the first two steps in steps in February and March and then when the temperature warms up, nature will finish off the job. Using multiple methods is the key to successful weed control. Combining different strategies brings excellent results.