Are the weeds on your lawn driving you crazy? If you are tempted to reach for the weedkiller, take a look at my 3 top tips below first.
I’ve found that one of the best ways you can stop weeds coming up on your lawn is to make your grass stronger. Follow my advice below. I also cover how to dig weeds out successfully, sowing new grass seed and talk about how your lawn can help local wildlife.
Tip 1: Dig Your Lawn Weeds Out
Use a trowel to dig the weeds out of the lawn and give the grass more space to grow. Weedkillers are not that useful here because they might kill the grass off too. It’s also important to think about what you are putting into your soil. Adding chemicals isn’t going to help in the long term.
Sowing New Grass Seed
If you have lots of patches once you’ve dug the weeds out, don’t worry! These will be filled by your existing grass. Or you can easily sow some new grass seed. Fill the holes with compost, sprinkle some grass seed on top then cover with more compost before watering in. This is best done in September, but you can do it any time between March and October, as long as you keep the seeds watered and the air temperature doesn’t go too far below 10֯C.
Tip 2: Help Your Grass to Beat the Weeds
There are lots of ways you can encourage your lawn grass to grow better, as you’ll see below. Growing stronger grass stops weeds from multiplying because the grassroots will dominate the lawn instead of the weed roots. My advice will help you to strengthen your lawn grass so it can withstand the weeds.
Aerating the Soil
If your grass looks tired, it might be because the roots are starved of air and moisture. Sometimes this happens when the soil gets very hard and solid. Compacted soil means rain can’t get to grassroots easily. It also stops air getting to your soil which is important for roots to flourish.
An easy way to get better air and water flow in your lawn is to make holes in it. This is known as aerating. You can do it yourself, and it’s free!
How to Aerate Your Lawn
Use a garden fork to make holes over the whole lawn. You want them to be about the depth of the fork. Stand on the fork to push it right into the lawn, rock it to and fro a little to make the holes a little bigger, and pull it out. Repeat every 10cm (4 inches) or so across all the grass. Water and air will now have more room to move around and reach the roots.
Different types of soil affect the way grass grows. If you have heavy clay soil, add some fine grit or sand to holes you’ve made with a fork. This will help drainage.
Feeding the Soil
If you want to use lawn food, choose carefully. This could make your weed problem worse because what feeds the grass will also feed the weeds. It’s best to try and improve your grass first (see my tips about aerating the soil, digging weeds out and regular mowing in this article) before you reach for any kind of fertiliser.
That said, there are good organic products designed to feed the soil under your grass. There are lawn foods designed for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Feeding your soil improves your whole lawn.
Mowing the Lawn Regularly
Regular mowing strengthens your grass. Cutting encourages grassroots to grow and spread, leaving less room for weeds.
In the summer, it’s a good idea to cut the grass every week or so, and every fortnight in the spring and autumn. To keep your lawn looking green in dry spells of weather, adjust the height setting on your mower if possible – keeping the grass a little longer will help it to hold on to moisture in a drought.
Most grass doesn’t need cutting in the winter but if you find the grass is still getting long, continue with a cut once every two weeks.
It’s also a good idea to mow newly-sown grass once it’s established because it will help to thicken up the new growth. Wait until your new grass reaches about 8cm (3 inches) before you get the lawnmower out.
Does My Lawn Need Scarifying?
If you’ve got loads of weeds and can’t see the grass recovering on its own, think about using a lawn scarifier. You can hire them, or ask a professional gardener to do the job for you.
Scarifying will improve the condition of your soil by getting rid of what experts call ‘thatch’. Scarification helps your grassroots to breathe and get strong again and will help with weed removal.
It can look a little messy at first, but in the long term, you will definitely see an improvement in your lawn.
Tip 3: Grow a Wild Area of Lawn
You might not want to give over all of your lawn to longer grass, but have you thought about leaving part of it to grow wilder?
Long grass is a big hit with lots of wildlife. Flowers such as dandelions, buttercups and daisies are all loved by insects. They are often seen as plants we need to kill off at all costs, but they are just wildflowers. They have their place too.
Wild Gardens Can be Neat Too
Ok, you might not want dandelions strewn across every part of your neat green lawn. That’s fine. But could they grow in a wildflower meadow area of your garden?
There are some really good ideas out there for ways to bring longer grass into your garden design. It doesn’t have to look messy. You could mow some lawn areas short of making neat green grass paths that weave through ‘borders’ of longer grass.
The interesting thing about growing longer grass sees what turns up – you might find wildflowers you’ve never seen before, once you’ve left your grass to grow for a few years. Long grass makes a good hiding place for animals like hedgehogs too.
Our local wildlife needs all the help it can get. We can all do something positive by leaving a patch of lawn to grow longer.