Lush green grass, beds of bright flowers, and of course, the perfectly pruned hedges – a manicured garden is a sight to behold. That is, until its attractive symmetry is interrupted by the wild weeds and dandelions growing all across the lawn.
Why are they so bad?
Weeds and dandelions compete with other plants in the lawn for nutrients, sunlight, and water. This stunts the growth of other plants and may even wither them away. Also, weeds and dandelions grow at an accelerated rate and usually absorb nutrients faster than your lawn or garden can. This creates an imbalance in the soil’s nutrient profile, which is not desirable for any kind of plant. So, if you like to keep your lawn beautiful, then it must be free from all the weeds and dandelions!
The biggest challenge with most weeds is that they usually have tap roots, which extend horizontally. Even if you uproot the plant, a piece of the root will regrow. The same is the case with the dandelions. In addition, dandelion seeds ride on the winds and can plant themselves in any lawn. Each dandelion plant can produce up to 15,000 seeds and can survive six years in the soil. It’s amazing there are golf courses and hotel lawns that remain free from them at all. Bless the souls of those who maintain them!
Containing weed growth in the garden is difficult, but not impossible. Even the best of lawns get weed problems and herbicides are not the only solution. Before reaching for that herbicide, try these effective organic gardening methods to make your lawn prim, proper, and free of weeds and dandelions.
Prevention is the First Strategy
Understand your lawn and its needs thoroughly – when to mow, when to water, what fertilizers to use, and so on. Maintaining a balance is the key here.
Every grass type has an optimal height that works best for its survival. For instance, Tall Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass ideally grow between 1.5 inches to 3 inches, while Bahia grass and Buffalo grass grow from 2 inches to 3 inches. Similarly, different grasses have different ideal heights.
Maintaining the right height is not only healthy for the grass, but also encourages abundant growth. As the grass grows, its shade keeps the ground cool and prevents light from reaching the undergrowth. The grass outcompetes the weed and nips it in the seed, literally.
If you water the grass lightly, it allows dry soil weeds to thrive. On the other hand, if you flood your lawn with water an inch deep, the weeds just disappear. Of course, you should do this rarely, as you don’t want the grass to rot in the water.
Solving the Weed Problem
Remember, a few weeds do not mean the end of your lawn. If one or two weeds do show up in your garden, do not go for a complete treatment. Treat the single weed with an herbicide or weed it out manually. If there is an infestation, here are some simple gardening methods to tame your weed problem.
· Lights Out
Most weeds, including dandelions, require plenty of sunlight to thrive. So, cover the weed infested areas in the lawn. If you have some dandelions here and there, you can use a cardboard box to cover them to cut off their sunlight.
If the weed problem has become more severe, then you have to use more potent methods. Use a newspaper to cover the weeds and put layers of mulch over it. Even the most stubborn weeds that manage to grow through the newspaper will not be able to penetrate the layers of mulch. They will just perish.
· Turn Up the Heat
How? By using boiling water. Heat up a pot of water and simply pour it over the weeds. Whether it is the dandelions or some other weeds, the boiling water will burn them down and they will slowly wither away.
Be careful with this operation though. After all, you are dealing with hot water here.
· Spray Them
Fill up a bottle with regular vinegar, or vodka if you like, and get spraying. You need to give a good spray to the middle of the flower on the dandelion stem and soak its roots completely in these solutions. Do not water the lawn immediately because it will just wash these solutions away. If it rains, then repeat the treatment.
· Get More Shady Plants
This is more of a long term solution.
Plants that provide a lot of shade help in covering the weeds, which makes it difficult for them to get the necessary sunlight, moisture, and nutrition they need to grow. These plants will do to weeds what the weeds are doing to the lawn – compete. You can get plants like Thriller lady’s mantle, Walker’s low catmint, Majestic lilyturf, and so on that are highly effective in solving the weed problem.
· Other methods
A number of people use baking soda, salt, bleach, and borax to eliminate weeds, but know that these chemicals can hurt the soil as well. So, save these methods for the weeds growing out of crevices in the wall or stairs.
These organic weed and dandelion control methods will not only get rid of them, but also preserve the soil quality and keep the lawn healthy and chemical-free.
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