Why So Many Weeds?
As many of you know, this season has been extremely difficult on our lawns! From the very beginning of the year, with the super dry, cold, windy winter, to the extremely slow start in the spring, to the very humid, wet summer, this year has definitely been challenging to maintain our turf they way we would like it to be. We've had serious fungus issues due to the humidity, which isn't much of a surprise at all, but what has been a bit of a surprise has been the amount of weed pressure we have seen this year compared to years past.
The year started with probably the most dandelions I've ever seen in the area this past spring. Obviously, for those who had applied weed control on their lawns in the spring and fall, dandelions probably were not as big of an issue. However, the biggest problem we have seen this year, has been the amount of goosegrass, crabgrass, and of course, spurge. Even for those of you who put down a good pre-emergent, there were still some breakthroughs. The main reason we are seeing such a large amount of weeds this year, goes back to the extremely cold and dry winter we had. As a result of the harsh winter, we had A LOT of "winter kill" on our fescue, as well as some of our bermuda lawns. When we have winter kill damage, like we had this past spring, the density of our turf is negatively effected. As we have discussed many other times in the past, the best weed control can not be bought on a shelf. The best weed control is a thick stand of grass. Unfortunately, with the cold, dry winter, our turf took a heck of a beating this spring, thus leaving many of our lawns thinner than what they were going into last winter. So, whenever we have these thin areas in our lawns, weeds are always going to be a concern.
One of the best things you can do to correct this problem however, is over-seeding your lawn this fall. Thicken the turf back up! As mentioned above, a thick stand of grass is your best defense against weed pressure. So if you're noticing a lot of weeds in your lawn, it's a good indication that your lawn may be too thin and probably took some damage from the environmental conditions this past winter. In addition to the winter kill, our edges of our lawn are almost always the weakest areas we deal with. Weed pressure is usually the worst on the edges. This is basically due to the amount of heat from the concrete and/or the walls of your houses or garages. Often times, the edges of our lawns are also not irrigated as well, which in turn, can cause turf decline, giving weeds a great opportunity to take over the compromised edges. You can continue to apply weed killer, but in the end, you can end up doing more harm than good. Excessive weed control can, and will, deteriorate the health of your soil, causing more problems in the future maintaining healthy turf. So again, the best way to combat your weed problem, is to reseed those edges and thin areas, and ensure that you have adequate irrigation in those problem areas.
Finally, I hate to sound redundant, but mowing height is extremely important regarding weed control in your lawn as well. We have preached about proper mowing height over and over, but below is a study that K-State has done to help clarify the importance of your mowing height, especially in fescue/bluegrass lawns, and the impact it has on the presence of grassy and broadleaf weeds. The shorter you maintain the height of your grass, the more likely you are to have weeds in your lawns. Especially after the terrible amount of winter kill damage we seen this year.
We hope this helps you understand a little bit about what has happened this year in regards to the weed problems you have seen this year, and if you have any questions at all regarding seeding and the proper time to do so, please don't hesitate to give us a call, we would love to answer your questions.