Weed management is a never-ending problem for all homes. After all, they’re called weeds for a reason! Weeds are invasive plant species that spread quickly. To prevent weeds from developing in your lawn or garden, you must exercise some caution. Landscapers, on the other hand, seem to be able to maintain them efficiently with minor maintenance every few weeks. So, how can lawn care professionals remove weeds, and are there any tricks of the trade you can utilize on your own property?
I’ll discuss in today’s article.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
It’s old wisdom, but it’s sound. The time you spend preventing weeds will save you much more time remediating a major weed problem in your lawn.
Taking the necessary procedures early in the spring may reduce the amount of labor required to keep your perfectly maintained lawn.
Part of that can include choosing the right herbicidal solutions to either prevent or kill weeds. Pre-emergent (treatment before weeds emerge) and post-emergent (treatment after weeds are growing) solutions act very differently. The former prevents weed seeds from developing and growing. The latter destroys weeds that have established themselves in your lawn or garden.
Although many of the weed control treatments available at the hardware store are useful, there are occasions when the heavy guns are required.
Maybe you neglected to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring, and your lawn is now overrun with crabgrass and other weeds.
Or maybe you need to cover a huge area and the tiny bottle of solution from the local hardware shop isn’t going to cut it.
Landscapers often have access to strong pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides.
These are some of the weed-killing methods used by lawn care providers, organized by category.
Pre-emergent weed control
A pre-emergent approach is one of the greatest methods to keep on top of weed development, and this is what professional landscapers do to limit the time, effort, and product they’ll use at your property throughout the remainder of the growing season.
Pre-emergent refers to the use of a herbicide or an organic material (such as corn gluten) to prevent weeds from germinating and emerging from the ground.
This is a very successful approach for keeping annual weeds at bay on your turfgrass. Annual weeds are those which die back every fall, but come back with a vengeance in the spring when the seeds they left behind germinate.
One of the most notable examples is crabgrass. Left untreated it can quickly crowd out and smother lawn grass, overwhelming an otherwise healthy lawn in just a few years. Block its seeds from germinating in the spring, however, and you can disrupt the life cycle of this invasive lawn weed.
Annual weeds are nipped in the bud, which means they don’t even have a chance to thrive, much alone distribute their seeds and cause a worse issue the following year.
Early spring application of an effective pre-emergent is the key to many landscapers’ success. One application can block weed seeds for 3-5 months.
Overseeding and (most) Pre-Emergents Don’t Mix
One important feature of a pre-emergent solution is that it prevents most seeds from germinating. Thus, you will not be able to lay grass seed or other types of seed at the same time as pre-emergents.
This is a problem for most homeowners who want to overseed their grass in the spring to thicken it up for the season they’ll utilize it the most.
If you’re going to overseed in spring, I suggest this Scotts product. It kills crabgrass and dandelions while allowing grass seed to germinate. It also has the perfect quick-release formula that’s high in phosphorous for new lawns, so it’s the perfect product to use in the spring when spreading your over-seeding grass seed.
Pre-emergents should not harm existing plants and will not kill established weeds, so anything that has germinated (even if you haven’t spotted it yet) will be unaffected.
A lot of people see a dandelion after applying pre-emergent and think the product is awful … It is not always the case. It may have already begun to grow prior to application.
Choosing the Right Pre-Emergent (what to look for)
Trifluralin, bensulide, DCPA, dichlobenil, oryzalin, and simazine are some of the finest compounds for pre-emergent weed control.
These are the active ingredients used by lawn care firms to destroy weeds before they sprout. They are marketed for controlling broadleaf weeds like clover and Black Medic as well as grasses, and they are commonly used around flower beds, trees, shrubs, and even crops.
If you don’t have access to a landscaping supply business, seek for these chemicals in goods at your local hardware shop or on Amazon.
In agricultural applications, farmers can use pre-emergent herbicides such as Avadex Liquid EC, Fortress Microactiv, Edge Granula, or Valtera to prevent weeds from popping up in their crops. The chemical used depends on the kind of crop being produced, and you may be able to acquire these goods at your local agricultural supply shop if you’re interested.
You’re not alone if you’re scared to use harsh chemicals like these on your home. You may avoid them while still efficiently controlling weeds by using corn gluten, a natural pre-emergent herbicide. Espoma produces a nice product, but like with everything, proper application time and dispersion are essential for optimal results.
Post-Emergent Weed Control Like the Pros
A pre-emergent pesticide will not control all weeds. There may also be occasions where you didn’t have the opportunity to apply a pre-emergent or perhaps it was less effective than you’d hoped.
Post-emergent herbicides and weed management strategies may be used to tackle your weedy lawn in these cases.
Although pre-emergent herbicides are more widely effective since they all inhibit germination, post-emergent herbicides are frequently more species-specific, so do your research, identify the weed on your lawn, and get a product that’s especially intended to kill that weed.
Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide for post-emergent weed management.
It is a general-purpose weed killer that is widely used and available in a variety of formulations. If you’re wondering what lawn service firms use to kill weeds… This is most likely it.
It is most effective when the product contains at least 42% glyphosate. However, it’s worth noting that there are some concerns about how safe it is for human health, even though it has been in use for over 30 years.
Other Popular Herbicide Options
Other common post-emergent herbicidal chemicals include 2,4-D, dicamba, and MCPP for broadleaf weed species. Fluazifopbutyl and sethoxydim are used to control grass-like weeds.
If You’re Going to Go Chemical, What’s Your Best Bet?
2,4-D, in particular, has been tested extensively and used for over 30 years in a variety of landscape settings. Because of its safety for the environment and human health, research supports its usage.
A 10-year research concluded that there is no link between 2,4-D and cancer.
With that said, if you’re going to use any chemicals on your lawn (or anywhere), you must take proper precautions. Use appropriate PPE, such as a face mask or respirator and safety goggles. Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers. Make sure you put up signs or alert neighbors with children and pets that your lawn has been treated and they should stay off for their own safety.
What do Farmers Use?
Farmers now have access to stronger post-emergent remedies and will employ them on a regular basis to preserve their crops and livelihood.
These can include herbicides such as Axial, Signal, Simplicity GoDri, Traxos, Varro, Odyssey Ultra NXT, Solo ADV, Solo Ultra, and Viper ADV. Several of these items may be obtained at a farm supply shop if one is nearby.
What Else Do Lawn Companies Use to Kill Weeds?
Several landscapers come out on a regular basis to maintain your grass and garden. Part of these visits will also include manual management of weeds.
Manual weed control, although time-consuming, may be equally as successful as post-emergent herbicides.
And one perk to using old-fashioned, time-tested weed control methods? It’s an excellent workout!
Adding mulch to your garden beds is one technique to keep weeds at bay. This will deprive weeds of the sunlight and air they need to germinate and survive.
Mulched beds are also visually appealing and help retain moisture, requiring less watering of your plants. Adding mulch provides a finishing touch to a garden bed that makes everything look neat and uniform and can really transform the curb appeal of your home.
Obviously, you’re not going to mulch your lawn, but if your lawn is generally thick and healthy, mulching your grass clippings may help suffocate weed seeds.
Pulling Weeds by Hand
Manually picking weeds that have sprung may be time-consuming and difficult. I like to minimize this task by using a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring, and just pulling the weeds that sneak past the goalkeeper (as I call it).
It is critical to remove the whole plant while physically picking weeds (including the root). A simple garden spade or a specialized weed-pulling tool such as a dandelion digger can be helpful.
The most crucial piece of advise I can provide is to remove weeds after a thorough watering or soaking downpour. Weeds will be simpler to pluck since the ground will be soft and damp. This is a particularly helpful tip if you have dandelions to remove from your lawn – they have a long taproot so moist soil is critical.
Plus, if you have children, this is an excellent punishment.
For spot-treating weeds, you may make some more natural and non-toxic remedies.
It is crucial to remember, however, that they are just for spot-treatment since they will kill everything and do not particularly target weeds (you will also kill the grass you spray).
For example, 1 cup of salt combined with 2 cups of water yields a solution that, when sprayed into the roots of weeds, destroys them.
Apple cider vinegar or plain white vinegar may also be used in the same way.
These are effective natural remedies for weeds that are too resistant to pluck.
Crowd Them Out
Allowing your grass to grow a bit higher will help crowd out weeds by blocking their access to sunlight.
Longer grass also indicates deeper roots that may compete for nutrients in the soil with weeds.
Grass should be a couple of inches tall but no less than an inch, and never mow more than a third of the grass blade at a time.
To prevent cutting your grass too short, adjust the height on the blade of your mower to the highest setting. This ensures that when you mow your grass, you just cut a little amount off the top.
Overseeding your weedy lawn every year is a great way to naturally control weeds … Plant more grass so that there is no area for them to grow!
What Do Lawn Companies Use to Kill Weeds?
There are a variety of efficient weed control methods available, and the majority of the products and procedures used by lawn care firms and landscapers to manage weeds are also accessible to the general public.
Yet, landscapers and lawn care businesses often have easier access to herbicidal pesticides.
Sometimes their goods seem to function better because they have larger concentrations of chemicals accessible, and other times it’s a substance that is only available for commercial usage.
If you don’t want to work with chemical sprays at all, that’s fair (and probably smart), but if you have good PPE and don’t mind the risks, then it’s worthwhile to check the hardware store products for the appropriate chemicals. The items on the market are intended for consumer use and are less likely to cause harm to your grass accidently (or your family).
And, when used as indicated, the majority of these off-the-shelf goods function very well.
If you’re set on using commercial-grade goods on your property, you may be able to locate them at a farm supply or landscaping supply shop near you.
If there are no such outlets in your region, you may be able to buy commercial-grade pesticides and weed treatments online.
The disadvantage with buying from a farm or landscaping shop is that some goods may need a license or certification.
If you want to purchase anything from a local specialized business, phone ahead before you go.