Spring Weed Control: 7 Tips & Tricks For A Healthy Lawn

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • March 21, 2019

7 Ways To Keep Weeds Out Of Your Lawn After Rainfall

Nothing ruins the look of your lawn more than weeds. They will continue to grow and spread until they have completely taken over—and ruined the health of your yard.

To keep your lawn healthy all spring and summer long, you need to stay proactive in your fight against weeds, especially after rainfall.

Unfortunately for us, we never know what kind of weather we’re going to get in North Carolina! It could be sunny and 75 one week, then rainy and cold the next. After those long periods of rain, certain weeds will begin to grow and thrive in your lawn.

If you stick to these seven tips and tricks for weed prevention, you’ll be sure to nip weeds in the bud—no pun intended!

12 Common Weeds That Sprout After Rain

There are quite a few weeds that are known to thrive during and after rainfall. To keep your yard healthy and protected, be on the lookout for these common weeds:

Morning glories

To the naked eye, morning glories might look like beautiful purple flowers. However, these weeds will take over your yard or garden before you know it! Their vines will spread rapidly and grow over any space they can find. If you have a larger space, morning glory vines may not be an issue for you. For smaller yards and gardens, though, morning glories pose the threat of taking over your other plants and landscaping.

Waterhemp

While this flowering plant is more commonly found on farms, it has been making its way to the North Carolina Piedmont in recent years. These weeds are tough to kill and can stick around your yard for several months.

Burcucumber

Like the waterhemp, the burcucumber is also common on farms, especially in corn or soy plants. This vine can reach up to 25 feet long, and can grow over any and every part of your lawn.

Fall panicum

Don’t let the name fool you! Fall panicum doesn’t just sprout in autumn. In fact, it’s an extremely common summertime weed. These weeds can get rather large, and in typical weed fashion, they will cover your lawn very quickly.

Common ragweed

Watch out, allergies! This weed can wreak some serious havoc on your yard, and on your sinuses. Ragweeds can grow very large, and prefer to live in deeper soil. If you keep your yard mowed frequently, you should be able to steer clear of ragweeds.

Yellow nutsedge

Also known as “nutgrass”, this weed is hard to spot because of how similar it looks to grass. However, once it starts growing, you will notice it’s much taller than your turf and may even look yellow or purple! Since it feeds on moisture, nutsedge will begin to grow rapidly after rainfall, so keep an eye out.  

Shattercane

Shattercane is an annual weed with waxy leaves that can grow up to eight feet tall when it reaches maturity. Yes, you read that right. Eight feet tall!

Crabgrass

The lawn aficionado’s enemy—crabgrass. During its lifespan, crabgrass can spread thousands of seeds into your yard. While crabgrass feeds off of the dry areas of your lawn, it can thrive in moisture, too.

Lambsquarters

Lambsquarters are smaller, leafy weeds. They normally look dusty from a distance, and have “spikes” which their small, green flowers grow off of. Because of the white coating on the leaves, any water or rainfall will simply bead off.

Smartweeds

Smartweeds or “knotweeds” thrive in wet habitats, which is why they’ll love your yard after a steady rainfall! Their leaves are relatively narrow, with pink or white flowers that grow in a cluster.

Nightshades

If you find these purple and yellow flower-like weeds in your yard or garden, remove them immediately. There are four different types of nightshades, and all of them are toxic to small children and pets. Nightshades produce berries, which can be toxic if they are ingested.

Please note: If you have small children or pets in your home, nightshades can pose a serious threat. While the berries may look appealing, you should see your doctor (or vet) immediately if children or pets eat them.

Barnyard grass

Another common enemy of your lawn. Barnyard grass flourishes in moisture soaked grass and will steal all the nutrients from your lawn. Luckily, barnyard grass is easy to spot due to its purple stem, long flat leaves and its “flattened” or sprawling look. Like crabgrass, barnyard grass produces lots of seeds, so try to catch it while it’s young!

7 Tips For Weed Control

Now that you know what types of weeds you should keep an eye out for in your lawn and garden, we can explain how to get rid of them!

Weed control and prevention is never a “one size fits all” approach. Some weeds are much harder to control than others! When this happens, contact a specialist who can kill these weeds before it’s too late. However, there’s plenty you can do at home to protect your yard against weed damage!

To maintain the health of your lawn (especially after rainfall), try these four traditional weed control methods:

1. Apply pre-emergent herbicide

A pre-emergent herbicide is a line of defense for your topsoil. This is where seeds typically sprout. In tackling weeds, you should first apply a pre-emergent spray to keep weeds from emerging. This will help break the cycle of constant regrowth!

2. Apply post-emergence herbicide

Next, apply a post-emergent herbicide to any existing weeds. This might seem fast, considering that you just applied a pre-emergent spray, but it is a necessary step in weed control.

After each season, you shouldn’t need to spray the post-emergent weed killer as often. The goal here is that the weeds eventually die off completely. Then, you won’t need to use a weed killer at all! However, this isn’t always a reality due to uncontrollable outside infestations.

Nonetheless, just a few, random weeds in your yard will be much easier to maintain than a weed infestation! This is why it’s so important to maintain your weed protection throughout the year, especially before spring and summer.

3. Pull and hoe

Because chemical applications won’t make your weeds immediately disappear, some old-fashioned pulling and hoeing will still be necessary. Remove the weed from the root rather than from the ground level to ensure the most effective weed control.

The old saying, “Pull when wet, hoe when dry,” is wise advice when grabbing these weeds. The best time to remove weeds is after a drenching rain—which is also the time they’ll start to emerge the most. So grab some gloves and get to tugging!

Pro Tip: The best gardening tool for weeding is an old table fork. You can use it to twist out the roots of the weeds without hurting your fingers. If you have stronger, thicker weeds, you might want to use stronger tools such as a fishtail weeder, or a stand-up weeder.

4. Mulch it over

Lastly, smother the remainder of the weeds with a good layer of mulch. Just like grass, if weeds can’t see the light, they’ll die. You can mulch them over with anything from wood chips, bark, straw, or even pine needles for effective weed control.

If you want to get really creative with your weed removal, here are three more tricks you can try!

5. Cover weeds with plastic

Another way to eliminate weeds is to cover them in plastic. While this may seem a bit unconventional, it’s an effective way to smother weeds.

The best way to do this is to use a black plastic sheet, and cover the weeds after a fresh mow. Use bricks or other heavy objects to weigh the sheet down, so the wind doesn’t uncover the weeds. This prevents the weeds from getting any sunlight, and the heat will smother the weeds and kill any seeds. This method is the most effective during the heat of summer, so watch your local heat index for the best time!

It’s important to note that this tarp will need to be left on for around six to eight weeks, so plan accordingly if this is the weed control option you choose! The lack of sunlight and heat will also kill any plants or grass surrounding the weeds, so be sure to consider that before making your decision.

6. Scald them with hot water

Hot water will make almost anyone (and even weeds) jump back. Keep weeds away by preparing a kettle on the stove or using any leftover water from cooking to pour over those pesky weeds in your driveway or walkway cracks. Once they’ve withered, simply pull them up and you’re good to go!

7. Sprinkle on some salt (or Borax)

Did you know that salt can also kill weeds? Not many people do! Consider salting your more stubborn weeds to get rid of them for good. However, you’ll need to use more than a “pinch”, it’ll probably take a few times before you start noticing dead or dying weeds. Just be careful not to “salt” your good plants—too much salt can be a bad thing.

Surprisingly enough, Borax words for killing weeds, too! Grab a box at your local store (or from Nana’s laundry room), and put on some gloves before sprinkling it on your weeds. You may just end up with a “cleaner” lawn after all!

Weeds are stubborn, and much more difficult to treat than you might think! While these methods are definite ways to prevent weeds from invading your lawn, weed control can be a full-time job.

Good thing we have a few weed-killing experts here at Killingsworth! We specialize in lawn care, so we know a thing or two about weeds. If you’re ready to get weeds out of your lawn for good, give us a call!

For more tips and tricks to maintain a healthy lawn all year long, download our Lawn Care Tips, Tricks and Checklists Workbook!

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