Weed prevention starts with a healthy lawn. Weeds do not like to compete for space, nutrients, water and sunlight, so they are less likely to invade thick turf. Lawn fertilization and aeration in the fall can strengthen your turf and help prevent weeds from taking hold.
Making sure your lawn gets enough water is also an important part of controlling weeds - not only for the health of the grass, but because well-hydrated weeds respond better to herbicide treatments. To prevent weeds and improve the overall health of your lawn, use sharp mower blades to trim your grass to the tallest recommended height. Taller grass shades the soil, helps it retain moisture and hinders weed germination.
Keep in mind that weeds are often a sign of an underlying problem with your lawn or lawn maintenance. Removing weeds without addressing their cause will only provide short-term weed prevention.
You shouldn't expect even the healthiest lawn to be free of weeds. The simplest methods of controlling weeds are to pull or dig them up. Then, reseed the spots to prevent weeds from filling them in.
You may also want to consider applying herbicides to problem areas. Fall is ideal for controlling weeds with herbicides because, in response to cooling temperatures, weeds move food to their roots for winter storage. Herbicides also get pulled down to the roots, which helps prevent weeds from growing back.
Before applying herbicides, be sure they are necessary for controlling the weeds in your lawn. For example, winter frosts are often enough to kill summer-annual weeds. If your weeds require chemical treatment, it's best to limit application to problem areas. To maximize your safety and results, make sure you follow the directions on the label. In general, you should avoid applying herbicides when it's windy, as this can cause the chemicals to spread to areas that are not in need of treatment. This can be especially damaging if you use a non-selective herbicide, which is designed to kill all the vegetation it touches.
Mulch is a great weed prevention tool for two reasons. First, covering bare soil with mulch blocks weeds from receiving the sunlight they need to germinate. Second, exposed soil is an inviting landing spot for weed seeds. Mulch serves as a barrier that helps prevent weeds from taking hold.
Organic materials make excellent mulch because, as they break down over time, they are absorbed into the soil. Chipper shredder vacuums and other leaf removal equipment from MTD make it easy to repurpose organic debris from your yard as mulch. For effective weed prevention, put 2 to 3 inches of mulch over each bare spot on your lawn. Mulching and taking other steps to prevent weeds in the fall will help your lawn come back lush and healthy in the spring.