A weed invasion can undo all the hard work you’ve put into maintaining a smooth, golf course lawn. Identifying weeds can pose a challenge, but understanding their nature is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment. Weeds have the ability to takeover a lawn, robbing your grass of essential nutrients and creating an unsightly appearance. Just as a doctor provides a diagnosis before prescribing treatment, it's essential to view weeds in the same light. Once you have accurately diagnosed your weed problem, you can administer the proper remedy to restore your lawn's health.
Now, let's explore some of the most common weeds found in the United States in depth — looking at their appearance and preferred growing conditions.
Types of Lawn Weeds
Weeds can be classified into three categories: annuals, perennials, and biennials. Annual weeds grow for one year, producing seeds that sprout into new plants the following year. Perennial weeds live for multiple years and can regenerate from their strong root systems. Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle, with seeds growing in the first year and flowering in the second. Understanding a weed's life cycle helps in choosing the right treatment. By identifying individual weeds, you can take appropriate action to restore your lawn's vitality.
The 3 Most Common Weeds in Lawns
Some weeds are more prevalent than others. There are a few you’ll notice pop up again and again — especially in the summer.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale and Teracacum erythrospermum)
Dandelions are a type of broadleaf weed, easily distinguishable from grass due to their distinct flowers and leaves. Initially, dandelions do have a unique appeal, with cheerful yellow blooms during early spring, but when their blowball seeds take flight, they can spread across your lawn quickly, leading to an infestation.
Originating from Europe and now a common weed in North America, the perennial dandelion possesses a resilient taproot, making it challenging to eliminate. Hand-pulling with a hand weeder tool can help control its above-ground growth, but dandelions can be stubborn. Alternatively, you can embrace the edible side of dandelions, as all parts of the plant are suitable for salads or cooked greens.
The task of removing mature dandelions through hand-pulling or hoeing is often an impossible task. This is due to the deep taproot system of well-established plants. To uproot young dandelions, firmly grasp them at the base and gently wiggle to dislodge their deep taproot from the soil. Alternatively, use a hand trowel or hand weeder to dig them out, aiming to remove the entire dandelion root in one attempt. Remember that any bits left behind may regrow.
For those maintaining a lawn, cultivating a vigorous and competitive turfgrass can help impede dandelion infestation. Dense grass shades the soil surface, minimizing the risk of new dandelions establishing themselves. While mowing can control many broadleaf weeds, this doesn’t apply to dandelions. Their growth pattern forms a basal rosette (leaves at the bottom of the stem). These leaves often grow lower than a mower blade's reach, rendering mowing less effective for control.
When it comes to tackling dandelions in warm-season turf, Celsius® WG stands out as an exceptional weed killer. It not only delivers outstanding results but also boasts a unique advantage: it doesn’t have any labeled heat restrictions. Celsius® WG is the best choice for weed control in summer, as it will kill weeds without harming your grass. You can use surfactant with this product to increase effectiveness. Celsius® WG shines as one of the top weed killers for targeting dandelions in warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Centipede.
For cool-season grasses, we recommend using Tenacity, which can be used as pre and post-emergence control of more than 46 broadleaf weed and grass species.
Crabgrass, a grassy annual weed that often infiltrates lawns during early summer, can be a source of frustration. Crabgrass is a prime example of a weed that looks like grass. Despite its resemblance to grass, it stands out as taller with thicker blades. Like with any weeds, making sure your turf is healthy and dense can prevent Crabgrass from thriving, as it prefers bare and impoverished soil.
To effectively eliminate Crabgrass, the recommended approach is to use a selective pre-emergent herbicide during spring. This step aims to prevent growth in the early stages. Crabgrass will die back during the first frost in fall or winter, but not before dispersing seeds that make a comeback the following spring.
Some weeds, like dandelions, have pretty flowers or culinary uses, but Crabgrass is simply an eye-sore on a golf course lawn. It has an astonishing ability to produce up to 150,000 seeds per plant, which makes controlling it a formidable task.
If you come across Crabgrass growing in sidewalk cracks or areas without other desirable grass, you have a couple of options for removal. You can manually pull it out by hand or use a non-selective herbicide for spot treatment. When it comes to tackling Crabgrass in cool season lawns, our recommendation is Tenacity. This herbicide is unique as it functions as both a pre-emergent and a post-emergent treatment. It can be used preventively to ward off Crabgrass growth and eliminate mature plants.
This versatile formula can be applied at any time during seeding, including overseeding of established turfgrass, renovation projects, or bare ground seeding. After application, weeds can be expected to die off within approximately three weeks, causing them to turn white as a result of chlorophyll loss. While temporary whitening of the turfgrass is common, occurring around five to seven days after application, it should subside within a few weeks.
Related: How to Kill Weeds Naturally
White Clover (Trifolium repens)
White Clover, an aggressive perennial broadleaf weed, spreads rapidly through thin turf areas. It's easily recognizable from its white flower heads, which bud in the summer, making it easy to spot. White clover thrives in nitrogen-deficient soils, so do a soil test to see how healthy your soil is and correct nitrogen levels with a fertilizer, like Lebanon Turf’s Humic Max 16-0-8. Remember, nitrogen helps give your grass a deeper green color, which gets you on track to achieving a golf course lawn.
White Clover can offer several benefits, as it aids in soil aeration and is attractive to helpful pollinators like bees. But, if you’re going for the golf course lawn look, white clover can be a pesky weed.
You can pull White Clover up by hand, but you need to make sure you remove the entire root system if you’re hand-weeding. Keep in mind that the presence of clover often indicates nitrogen deficiency in the soil. If you remove the clover, it's important to replenish nitrogen by adding compost or granular fertilizer. In areas where White Clover removal leaves bare patches, reseeding and topdressing are recommended.
For effective treatment of White Clover in warm season lawns, we recommend Certainty herbicide. Certainty is a convenient and efficient solution that targets White Clover, as well as other undesirable weeds such as Poa annua and Nutsedge. Its application process is straightforward and has a wide temperature range applicability for effectiveness against weeds throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
Common Weeds in Lawns
Maintaining a healthy and weed-free lawn requires knowledge about common lawn weeds and implementing effective strategies to keep them at bay. By familiarizing yourself with the characteristics and growth patterns of common lawn weeds, such as Dandelions, Crabgrass, and White Clover, you can identify and address them promptly.
Taking a proactive approach and staying consistent with lawn maintenance tasks will go a long way in keeping your lawn healthy and weed-free. Regularly inspecting your lawn, addressing any weed issues promptly, and implementing appropriate measures will help you achieve and maintain a lush, vibrant, and weed-free lawn that you can enjoy throughout the seasons.
Browse our full range of weed killers and find one which works for your lawn.