This time of year, we hear the question Why do I have so many weeds? multiple times a day. If you really want to know the ins and outs about your flourishing weeds, read on!
Summer weeds are annual plants, meaning they have a short life cycle (3 to 4 months) and then die. Because of their short lifespan, weeds reseed themselves multiple times a year. Grass, on the other hand, is a perennial. It returns each year and only reseeds itself once per year. What this means for your lawn is:
- Summer weeds are very strong and LOVE the heat.
- Because so many weeds grow faster than grass does, if you mow your grass too short, the weeds will take over:
- When the grass is too short, it allows the sun to beat down on the soil
- When the weed seeds fall onto the soil, the hot, summer sun actively encourages the seeds to germinate
- HOWEVER, if the grass is tall enough to shade the ground, most weed seeds are unable to germinate
- Grass that is too short is the major reason summer weeds germinate and spread
You should also keep in mind that every lawn has its own micro-climate. Your lawn is NOT the same as your neighbor’s lawn. Neither are:
- The type of soil and its nutrients
- The number and types of tree roots and other objects beneath the surface of the ground
- The precise amount of shade and sunshine on the lawn
- The water table beneath the surface of the ground
- The mowing and watering schedule
- Lawn maintenance
- Wind patterns (that carry weed seeds and other matter)
- Size and types of hardscape (e.g., patios, walkways, stone, cement, brick work, etc.)
Keep in mind that our philosophy is to use the safest products on your lawn and to limit the use of chemicals. Controlling weeds involves much more than spraying them with chemicals. Sure, weed control spray will kill the visible/existing weeds. But it doesn’t prevent new weeds from germinating, new weed seeds from blowing onto your property, or your mower blades from depositing weed seeds it picks up from another area of the lawn. (Ditto with your landscaper’s mower, if you hire someone else to cut your grass.)
Applying spring weed products such as those we include in our lawn fertilization program (e.g., pre-emergent crabgrass control and broadleaf weed control) is the first step. Mother Nature, of course, plays an even more important role. As you do, along with your watering, mowing, and lawn maintenance practices, which are the first line of defense against having so many weeds during the summer months. Remember, the taller your grass, the stronger it is and the easier it will be able to crowd out those summer weeds.