Lawn Care FAQs
Taking care of a lawn can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially for those new to lawn maintenance. Understanding the common questions and concerns that arise can help homeowners achieve a healthy and beautiful lawn. We will address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding lawn care and provide helpful answers and tips.
How can I prevent weeds from taking over my lawn?
The best way to prevent weeds from taking over your lawn is to keep it healthy. Make sure you mow regularly, water deeply and infrequently, and fertilize your grass with the right type of fertilizer for your type of grass. Additionally, using a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring and fall can help to keep weed seeds from germinating.
How often do I need to fertilize my yard?
The frequency of fertilizing your yard depends on various factors, including the type of grass, its growth rate, and your desired level of maintenance. In general, it is recommended to fertilize your yard every 6-8 weeks during the growing season.
Generally, warm-season grasses benefit from fertilization in late spring and early summer, while cool-season grasses may require additional applications in the fall. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid over-application, as it can lead to burned grass or environmental pollution.
How often should I mow my lawn?
Generally, it's best to mow your lawn every 5-7 days, depending on how quickly it grows. Mowing too often can damage the grass roots, so make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions or guidelines of your lawn care provider.
How often should I water my lawn?
The amount and frequency of watering needed for your lawn will depend on the type of grass you have, the age of your lawn, and the weather conditions. In general, most grasses need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week, either through natural rainfall or supplemental irrigation. It's important to avoid over-watering.
What is the best time of day to mow my lawn?
The best time of day to mow your lawn is in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are lower and the grass is less stressed. Avoid mowing in the heat of the day as this can damage the grass.
When should I aerate my lawn?
Aerating your lawn is an essential practice that can greatly improve the overall health and appearance of your grass. The best timing for aerating your lawn depends on the type of grass you have. Cool-season grasses should be aerated in early spring or early fall, while warm-season grasses should be aerated in late spring through early summer.
When should I start a lawn care program?
The best time to start your lawn care program is in the spring. This is when the most grasses begin to actively grow and you can start to see the results of your efforts.
Annual Rye Grass
One of the weeds that homeowners have to battle is annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum). Once a very popular cover crop, the annual ryegrass has transformed into a weedy nuisance in recent times. Also called Italian ryegrass, this annual grassy weed is difficult to get rid of especially as some of its biotypes have gained resistance to herbicides.
Annual ryegrass is an annual winter grass commonly found in most parts of the United States. It is still a very popular variety of grass and is often used as a forage grass or as a temporary cover crop to prevent erosion of soil.
It produces tufted vegetation that can last for up to 4 years if not appropriately controlled. Annual ryegrass can grow up to 3 ft tall. The leaf blades are broad for a grass, tend to be a bit shiny, and can be up to nearly a foot long.
The annual ryegrass flowers from spring through fall. Before dying off in winter, it produces several seed heads, and seeds can mature quickly and fall off on the ground where they can germinate the next fall, continuing the cycle.
Seed Mix Contamination
The most common source of annual ryegrass contamination is turf seed mix. Many seed mixes contain some amount of ryegrass seeds. They are included as the ryegrass seeds germinate very quickly, sometimes within a week, and the grass establishes rapidly, especially during the fall and winter season. As the grass is very quick to germinate, it provides a very quick greening to the homeowners’ delight before turning into a problem!
Annual ryegrass is not a grass you want to use for your home turf. It produces clumpy tufts of grass, the leaf texture is very coarse, and it does not blend very well with other more attractive grasses such as Bermuda or zoysia. Another problem with the annual ryegrass is that it leaves many bare spots on the lawn and creates opportunities for other weeds to take over as well.
How to Manage Annual Ryegrass?
One of the best ways to manage any weed is to eliminate the source of contamination in the first place. Always use a high-quality seed mix, whether you are overseeding your lawn or establishing new turf. Many cheap quality seed mixes can have a large number of ryegrass seeds mixed in. Avoid using such blends, especially if you are overseeding the patchy portions of a lawn.
It is relatively difficult to control ryegrass contamination, especially in the cool-season grasses. However, as it is an annual grass, if taken proper care, it can be eliminated without much of a trouble.
Here are some tips to control the spread of this grassy weed:
- Annual ryegrass loves water. Overwatering your lawn can be an invitation for ryegrass to grow. Always follow the golden rule of infrequent and deep watering.
- As is many other weeds do, annual ryegrass also loves bare spots. Make sure that you do not mow your lawn too closely to leave bare spots and less dense turf.
- Aerating your turf is generally a great idea. However, if you have annual ryegrass infestation, avoid aerating during the seeding periods of the weed to eliminate the possibility of spreading the seeds all over your lawn.
- Any sighting of a lonely ryegrass plant should be promptly attended to. Take out the plant before it seeds and tries to uproot the plant without leaving any root in the soil.
- Manually weeding out individual plants is still the best option. Although it is time and labor intensive, it is worth the trouble.
- Overseeding is an excellent method to reduce the contamination of annual ryegrass. Make sure that the seeds used for overseeding are high quality and are not contaminated with any ryegrass seeds.
- Selective herbicides can be an option as well if the infestation becomes a problem. We strongly recommend that you take professional help from a lawn service that specializes in weed control if you go this route.
Dactyloctenium Egyptian, more commonly known as crowfoot grass, is common in Eastern and Southern states, particularly in states along shorelines. This grassy weed has benefits in preventing the erosion of sandy soil, however, it is a significant turf invader in unwanted areas. The tall, claw-like plumes make it easy to spot, but not as easy to eliminate from unwanted areas.
Although crowfoot grass takes on the appearance of many other types of tall, natural grasses, it is technically not considered a grass. It produces blade-like foliage, which is covered in fine hairs. Five rolled ligules appear at the top of the blade, giving the 2-foot-tall plants the appearance of a crow’s foot, and thus the name. It is most prolific in late spring and early summer months in the cooler climates of the Eastern states but can be a year-round problem in the warmer climates of the Southern states.
The grassy weed can be found along beaches and shorelines of the Eastern and Southern states. Like other beach grasses, crowfoot grass has a matting root system which can prevent soil erosion in sandy regions and prevent topographical damage as a result of wind, rain, and tides. Crowfoot differs from other beach grasses in that it produces a significant number of seeds which are easily dispersed in windy climates. The seeds take root in landscapes and turf and compete and crowd out other foliage and shrubbery for sunlight and resources. It is also typically found in ditches, scrub, and other areas where soil has been disturbed. It has a relatively short seed germination period, which means it takes over quickly.
There are a number of means of eliminating the quickly-growing grass. Regular mowing before the emergence of seed heads is a good way to mechanically eliminate the weed from turf and lawns. It can also be pulled by the roots, however, this method (because of the matting root system) will often damage large amounts of turf and soil and has the propensity to spread seeds upon removal. Herbicides applied by a professional lawn maintenance service that offers a weed control plan are usually the best measures of eliminating the weed. They are typically preemptive and kill the weeds and the roots before it can cause significant damage to lawns and turf.
Cudweed is a native North American plant that can take on several different forms and grow in different types of areas. Most are a broadleaf annual, though some establish themselves in mild climates where they can be a biennial weed as it survives two full growing seasons.
Most cudweed species are annuals. However, purple cudweed, known by its scientific name of Gnaphalium purpureum, can be either a winter or summer annual or biennial if it matures into a second year. Creeping cudweed, whose scientific name is Gnaphalium collinum, is perennial weed. Everlasting cudweed’s scientific name is Gnaphalium luteo-album tends to be a nursery and landscape weed. And Gnaphalium stramineum, which is more commonly known as cotton batting, is the bane of many homeowners’ existence as it can overrun turf. Most cudweed plants have sparse branches and grow up to 20 inches tall. Flowers on this weed are densely packed, spiked in shape, and arranged on the stem at the base of leaf stalks. Leaves are usually green above but can be a pale green to almost white on the undersides. Foliage often appears white and wooly.
Cudweed is found in most areas of the United States, though it is especially prevalent in the southeastern parts of the United States. It tends to prefer meadows, roadsides, railway embankments, sandy areas, and wastelands. Certain types of this weed grow extensively in lawns and landscapes and can be challenging to manage in thin turf or landscaping. Some thrive in sun-baked, desert-like climates. They are also found in parts of Norway and Finland where they grow in colder climates.
There are a number of long-standing medicinal uses for cudweed. It has been used to treat mouth and throat diseases and has astringent properties. Medicinally, the leaves of the cudweed are added to boiling water to create an astringent mouthwash. Certain types of cudweed foliage are used as an addition to salads and smoothies for a unique, bright, sharp flavor. However, in some areas, this weed can tend to have a buildup of nitrates, which can be toxic to cattle and livestock in pastures. It reproduces by seed, but it rarely grows in the same places twice.
Weed control for this plant usually consists of prevention. A well-maintained turf or landscape makes cudweed unable to compete for resources, and it is therefore easily strangled out. Therefore proper mowing, watering, fertilizing, and maintenance will be the best method to combat the spread of cudweed. Hand pulling individual weeds is not recommended as it is not effective. Mechanical removal tends to result in the plant growing back immediately. Once it has become established in lawns and landscapes, the best way to eradicate it is to utilize professional broadleaf weed control measures. Multiple repeated applications of broadleaf herbicides containing glyphosate may be required. Because it is a non-discriminant herbicide, it can damage surrounding plants when applied, so carefully controlled apps 7-10 days apart are highly recommended for eradication of cudweed in lawns and landscapes.
Lyreleaf Sage, (Salvia lyrate L.) is a member of the mint Lamiaceae family and is a perennial herb that tends to grow wild all over much of the eastern U.S., extending to portions of the Midwest. It is also known as cancer weed. It can be found growing naturally along the roadsides and in thickets as well as everywhere in the southeastern United States. In fact, the lyreleaf sage plant can grow in practically every condition imaginable except areas near saltwater.
It’s an upright perennial that is somewhat hairy in appearance and grows to be one to two feet tall. It’s base bears a rosette of leaves and those leaves are all deeply three-lobed, although the plant has some much simpler leaves that grow higher up on its stem. The larger basal leaves become tinged with purple during the winter months. The margins of those leaves can also be toothed or lobed. In addition, many of them may appear to be lyre (a small, handheld, harp) shaped, which is of course where the name came from.
This particular plant/weed species has a square stem that bears two-lipped blossoms that tend to range from a pale blue color to violet. The tubular flowers usually appear in a whorl arrangement around the plant’s stem and form a spike that is uninterrupted. Each blossom grows to be approximately one inch long. The double-lobed lower lip tends to be longer than the upper one (with three lobes) and its sepals are purplish-brown. The leaves of the lyreleaf sage turn dark green in wintertime with darker purple veining.
The lyreleaf sage’s natural habitat is rich and rocky, like open woodlands as well as meadows (wet or dry), and alluvial areas that have well-drained loam or sandy conditions. It requires low to medium watering and grows in full sun, shade, or partial shade. This plant also has a medium drought tolerance as well as a good tolerance to heat. It can even tolerate periodic flooding conditions. It’s quite adaptable as a ground cover and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds while being moderately deer resistant.
For home landscapes, the lyreleaf sage can be grown anywhere, whether in partial shade or even full sun, requiring only an average amount of moisture. As individual plants, they’re not all al that impressive among native wildflowers, however, when they’re in a mass, they’re really quite beautiful. You can spread the seeds along pathway edges, driveways, or in wooded areas where grass won’t grow. It is definitely not generally considered to be a good addition to flower beds since it reseeds so easily and could quickly take over everything in its path.
The lyreleaf sage can also be made into a poultice. It has been used extensively for removing warts by the early settlers and numerous native tribes. The roots have also been pounded to make a salve for treating wounds. Tea that’s made from the roots and leaves of the plant have been used for soothing oral infections, coughs, and sore throats. The early pioneers and Native Americans believed that “like cured like.” The theory was that, since lyreleaf sage was capable of spreading very aggressively and quickly, much like cancer, it just made sense that it should be used for treating the disease, hence the name “cancer weed.”
There are a number of weeds that can be found in lawns, turf, and landscapes that may be coveted for their culinary uses. Wild herbs are often at the top of the list. For example, wild sage grows high up in the Rocky Mountains and adds a delicious taste and aroma to many culinary experiences. Wild strawberries and wild garlic are prevalent in many parts of the country, and although they are not usually desired growths in landscapes, they are edible and have many culinary uses. Perilla mint, however, is not an edible herb. In fact, when perilla mint is found in pastures, it endangers cattle and other livestock as it is highly toxic to ruminants.
Perilla mint belongs to the same family as cultivated mint. Its scientific name is Perilla frutescens and is easily identified by the aroma and appearance. Like cultivated mint, perilla mint has a strong minty aroma. Plants can grow as tall as four feet, and leaves are almost heart-shaped and toothed at the edges. The undersides of leaves may be purplish in color, and stems are square in shape and hairy. Flowers may occur in clusters, which can give a mature plant a bottle-brush appearance. Individual flowers are small and white to whitish purple in color and hairy, perilla mint is often referred to as beefsteak plant, common perilla, purple perilla, purple mint, and Chinese basil, just to name a few.
This variety of weedy mint originated in southeast Asia. It is often cultivated and considered an ornamental plant in gardens because of its purple and green foliage. However, it is an escaped ornamental, which is what caused its spread and become a weedy pest mostly in the southeastern United States. It can be found in pastures, edges of woods, along farm structures, and along fence rows.
Plants are spread through seeds, and roots are a shallow and fibrous taproot. They emerge between late April and early June. This is also the best time to scout for perilla mint in pastures, farm structures, and fence rows. By late summer, plants are often too large to remove mechanically or with an approved weed killer.
All parts of the perilla mint plant are toxic to cattle, livestock, sheep, and horses. When ingested by livestock, the leaves contain ketones that cause respiratory distress. It is one of the most toxic weeds in the southeastern United States for cattle and livestock and so checking pastures and grazing areas for the distinctive-looking weed are critical. In most cases, grazing animals are not prone to eat perilla mint plants. However, in late fall and early winter when cattle and livestock are hungry, and there isn’t enough grass or greenery to eat, they will often consume this toxic plant.
Even though it is highly toxic for livestock, there have been some human uses for perilla mint. Their seeds have been used to make cooking oil and fuel. Native Americans used to use parts of the plant medicinally, although it is not currently recommended.
Because it is the most toxic known plant to cattle and livestock, eliminating the plant is very important. The best time to scout areas for these weeds are in late spring and early summer. Mowing them down before they produce seeds will prevent the spread of perilla mint. If it is not managed before late summer, it is crucial to provide an adequate food source to grazing animals to avoid them from consuming them. Once they begin flowering in late summer, they are considerably more deadly to farm animals. Broadleaf herbicides specific to pastures are also a reasonably effective means of controlling perilla mint.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of the most fascinating weeds found throughout Europe and North America. It is extremely common and familiar to most people because of its mild sting. For this reason, it is often treated with disdain. However, it offers a litany of beneficial qualities.
The weed is a herbaceous flowering plant that can take the form of any one of six sub-species. Of these species, five have stinging hairs called trichomes on their leaves and stems. The hollow hairs function as hypodermic needles and inject histamine and other chemicals into the skin. This is what produces the painful sensation when a person comes into contact with the stinging nettle.
Despite this, the weed is used, medicinally, to treat everything from urinary problems, joint pains, nosebleeds, lung congestion, stomach aches, diabetes, eczema, cancer, asthma, alopecia, and more. In some regions, it is also used as a culinary ingredient or added to hair and skin products. So, with all of these benefits, why would a gardener want to get rid of the stinging nettle?
Well, apart from their tendency to cause pain, these plants can quickly dominate soil and take over lawns. This is why a proper lawn maintenance or weed control strategy is needed to keep their growth in check. If you think that you may have stinging nettles growing in your garden, identify the species by looking for the following features.
The weed can grow up to 2 meters tall in the summer, but it shrinks during cold weather. It has a creeping rhizome root structure that may be seen above ground. The leaves are soft and green, and they can grow up to 6’’ long. They form a teardrop shape, with the broadest end attached to the stem. From May to September, small green or brown flowers appear.
The stinging nettle can be controlled with manual weed pulling or weed control. If all parts of the plant are removed and discarded, it is unlikely to grow back. However, the best way to make sure is to continue with lawn care and hoeing after removal. This will destroy any seedlings left in the ground. Or, you can seek the help of a reliable lawn service.
Many broadleaf weeds bear some bright and beautiful flowers that can mislead a homeowner into thinking that the plant is harmless. However, reality can’t be farther from the notion. Broadleaf weeds are often aggressive and take away the essential nutrients from the soil, rendering it less supportive for turfgrass.
Sunflower (Helianthus) is one such broadleaf weed that can completely take over your yard if neglected. It is common to most parts of the country, including the transition regions. The bright yellow flowers are beautiful to look at, but the weed can overwhelm any yard within months.
In this article, we will learn some details about the weed itself and then look at some of the methods to eliminate it from the lawns.
What is Sunflower (Helianthus)?
Sunflower plants can read a height of up to 6 feet and feature an attractive flower at the end of each stalk. Although the plan is consumable by livestock and can be desirable on ranches and farms, it has no place in your yard.
Sunflower is one of the most voracious consumers of nutrients from the soil and can steal valuable nutrients from the turfgrass. If correct measures are taken, you can fully eliminate this menacing weed from your yards and protect your turf from future infections.
How to manage Sunflower (Helianthus)?
Like most broadleaf weeds, sunflower also can be managed effectively without the need of a herbicide. The best way to tackle this weed is to eliminate it before it seeds and spreads across your lawn.
There is no alternative to good cultural practices for controlling weeds in your yard. Always follow the best lawn care practices to reduce the susceptibility of your turf to weeds. Here are some tips to get rid of sunflowers from your yard:
- One of the most effective methods to tackle a patch of sunflower plants on your laws is to snip the heads of the plants with pruning shears. This ensures that when they seed, the spread will be limited. This is especially important if you want to get rid of the weed in steps and can’t finish the job in one go.
- Cut the stem so that it is slightly above the ground. The chopped stems make an excellent addition to the compost if you have one.
- The root of the plant is in the shape of a ball and needs to be dug out completely. While digging to eliminate the root, make sure that there are no bits and pieces left behind. Digging a small trench around the root will make sure that you get it completely out without leaving any bits behind.
- If in case any seeds are left behind, make sure to pick them up and dispose of them.
- The chemical herbicide glyphosate can be applied to patches of sunflower if the patch is too difficult to manage using the manual method. However, be cautious while applying chemical herbicides and consult with weed experts before you decide to go the chemical way.
Something to take home
Weeds such as sunflowers can be problematic if left unattended. Make sure that broadleaf weeds are eliminated from your lawn as soon as you spot them. Weed control services can easily take care of sunflowers. We hope that you learned something new about this annoying weed and if you spot it in your yard, you will be able to get rid of it easily.
When we envision strawberries, we often picture plump, juicy fruits that thrive during late spring and early summer. These delicious berries are beloved for their sweetness. Strawberry plants also find a special place in gardens, sought after by many. But there's another side to strawberries – the wild strawberry. This unique plant has a different story to tell. It's a low-trailing species that spreads through both seeds and runners, and it can swiftly overpower desired growth, even stealing nutrients from other plants. Dealing with this winter-blooming perennial weed can be a challenge, requiring effective management.
The wild strawberry, scientifically known as Fragaria virginiana, belongs to the Rosaceae family, which also includes roses and cultivated strawberries. Various names are used to refer to it, such as Virginia strawberry, woodland strawberry, Alpine strawberry, and Carpathian strawberry. Its appearance resembles that of cultivated strawberries, with light green trifoliate leaves (three leaves per stem) featuring toothed edges. Covered in tiny hairs, the stems lead to flowers that bloom from April to June. These flowers sport five white petals encircling a vibrant yellow center made up of stamens and pistils. The fruit starts forming around August in northern parts of the United States and extends to December in the south. Although smaller and less sweet than store-bought strawberries, the wild strawberry's fruit holds culinary potential.
What Do Wild Strawberry Plants Look Like?
Wild strawberry plants have distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other plants. The wild strawberry plants look like:
- Leaves: The leaves of wild strawberry plants are trifoliate, meaning each stem has three leaflets. The leaves are usually light to medium green in color and have toothed or serrated edges. They often resemble the leaves of cultivated strawberry plants but are smaller in size.
- Stems: The stems of wild strawberry plants are usually covered in fine hairs, giving them a slightly fuzzy appearance. These stems can trail along the ground, and they can also produce runners that spread out and form new plants.
- Flowers: Wild strawberry plants produce small, white flowers with five petals. These flowers have a delicate appearance and are often found on short stalks above the leaves. The center of the flower contains bright yellow stamens and pistils.
- Fruit: The fruit of wild strawberries is quite small. The berries can vary in color, ranging from light red to deep red when ripe. They resemble tiny versions of cultivated strawberries, with a similar shape but much smaller size.
Remember that wild strawberry plants can exhibit some variation in appearance based on factors such as location, climate, and growing conditions. However, the trifoliate leaves, small white flowers, and small red berries are key identifying features of these plants.
How Big is a Wild Strawberry
Wild strawberries are significantly smaller than the cultivated strawberries commonly found in supermarkets. The size of a wild strawberry can vary, but on average, they are about the size of a thumbnail or even smaller. A mature wild strawberry fruit typically measures around 0.3 to 0.7 inches. Despite their small size, wild strawberries are known for their intense flavor, though they are generally not as sweet as cultivated strawberries.
Do Wild Strawberries Grow in Georgia?
Yes, wild strawberries do grow in Georgia. The climate and environment of Georgia provide suitable conditions for wild strawberries to thrive. These plants can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, open fields, roadsides, and gardens, throughout the state. The wild strawberry is a versatile inhabitant of the northern hemisphere. In warmer climates, it seeks out shaded areas to flourish, while in the northern US, it can tolerate more sun exposure. In areas of extreme shade, fruit might be absent, but the plant's runners continue to create new growth. This weed adapts well to various climates, except for extremes of drought or moisture.
What to do if You Have Wild Strawberries
The wild strawberry's underground runners pose a challenge when removing it from established turf. While it's easy to pull out a single plant in loose soil, the runners can extend several feet, entwining with turf, gardens, and landscapes. Complete removal is crucial, as any remaining parts can lead to regrowth. Using post-emergent herbicides that target broadleaf weeds can be effective if applied early or late in the growth cycle. However, these herbicides might harm other plants in the vicinity. A combination of manual removal and weed control treatments often yields the best results in eliminating stubborn wild strawberries. Maintaining proper turf care practices is key to preventing these invaders from taking over lawns and landscapes.