Why Do I Still Have Weeds in My Lawn?

In a nutshell, there are 5 reasons you are still dealing with weeds:

  1. Your Soil
  2. Your Seed
  3. Your Mowing
  4. Your Watering
  5. Thin Grass

At Heritage Lawns and Irrigation, we understand how frustrating it can be when you try to do everything right – use a pre-emergent in the spring, fertilize, treat for pests, aerate in the fall – and still end up with weeds in your lawn. We’ve been in the lawn care business for over two decades. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about weeds. We’d like to help. We’ll break down each reason and give you advice on how to get rid of those weeds once and for all.

1. Your Soil Is Not Healthy

The soil in your yard is the most important factor in the health of your lawn. Most homeowners don’t know much about their soil. You may know you have clay soil as a lot of homes do in the Kansas City area, but beyond that, you just try to fertilize and go. When we come across a lawn that isn’t thriving, the first thing we do is soil sampling. Soil sampling tells us what your lawn needs and then we can use the type and amount of fertilizer needed to get it back to being healthy and balanced. We use our exclusive Eco-Pride lawn care system designed specifically to keep your soil healthy and balanced. Balanced soil is the most important factor in creating a thick and healthy lawn. And a thick lawn is the best defense against weeds.

How Does a Lawn Get Out of Balance?

Your lawn is a living, changing ecosystem all its own. There are many factors that affect its chemistry:

  • Fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are all essential to a healthy lawn when used properly. But when improperly applied, they can be harmful to your lawn. 
  • Tree debris from large oak trees can affect the pH level in your lawn as well as 
  • Salts from de-icing agents used in the wintertime and just plain hard water 

The pH level in your lawn can change over the years as the soils mature and the organic matter levels change. In Kansas City, your lawn’s acidity level should be between 6.1 and 6.9 for a Fescue lawn. Once we find out what your soil needs, we can adjust your fertilization program for optimal growth. You can take a soil sample to Johnson County K- State Research and Extension to have it tested for pH, phosphorus and potassium levels. We can also perform a soil test for you. 

The results of a soil test will answer four critical questions:

  1. What nutrients does your soil need?
  2. What type of fertilizer should we use?
  3. How much fertilizer should we use?
  4. How often should we fertilize?

Related Read: Improve Your Soil Through Soil Amendments

2. You Used the Wrong Seed

There are two major mistakes most people make when it comes to seeding their lawns. They buy the wrong type of grass or they buy grass with weed seeds already included.

Choose the Right Type of Grass

Also, make sure you’re planting the right grass seed for your Kansas City lawn. A thick healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. Having the proper turf variety is a big piece of the beautiful lawn puzzle. The right grasses will naturally give you better color, better coverage and fewer problems like weeds, diseases and pests. We recommend 90% Fescue and 10% Blue Grass seed for bare soil and overseeding with 100% fescue. Those rates are by weight. The Fescue allows the lawn to be tough and durable enough to withstand the heat and drought typical of Kansas City summers. And the Blue Grass makes the lawn soft and green enough to look and feel good when you stroll around barefoot.

Your Seed Contained Weed Seeds

Not all grass seed is created equal. Many people don’t realize it, but most grass seed contains weeds. The next time you’re at the store, read the labels. It will tell you the percentage of “weed seed” and “other crop” contained in the bag. Look for labels that say “0% Weed Seed” and “0% Other Crop”. Even a small percentage of seeds in these categories can mean hundreds of weeds in your yard, so shop carefully.

Related Read: 7 Steps to Successful Seeding in KC

3. Bad Mowing Practices

Believe it or not, the way you mow will affect the health of your lawn, which will, in turn, affect the amount of weeds in your lawn. Here are some mowing tips for a Fescue/Blue Grass lawn:

  • Keep your mower at three to three and a half inches in height. It keeps the grass from stressing under the heat of summer. 
  • Only mow one third of the length of the blade at a time. Cutting off too much of the blade at once will stress your lawn making it susceptible to disease and drought. If your lawn gets too tall, mow once at a higher height and then a day or two later at the desired height. 
  • Mow with sharp blades. Dull blades will tend to break the grass leaving brown and jagged tips. This injures the grass blades and leaves them open to infection and diseases.
  • Edge properly. Keep your weed whip vertical to avoid accidentally scalping your lawn and ending up with brown or dead edges.

4. Bad Watering Practices

Not watering enough, too much, or incorrectly can also lead to more weeds by making your grass less healthy and able to withstand the heat and drought conditions of summer. Follow these suggestions:

  • Practice long, deep watering. Deeper watering encourages deep root growth that will sustain the turf in arid times and help to avoid drought stress. Watering lightly, but often will encourage the roots to stay close to the surface where they will dry out more quickly.
  • Water in the morning, not at night. This gives the blades a chance to dry before fungus decides to move in. 
  • Aerate your lawn. Aeration improves the drainage and air circulation and lets the roots get the water and nutrients they need.
  • Reassess your sprinkler system. If the problem is moisture related, many times it can be corrected with proper setup of the sprinkler system.

Related Read: Comprehensive Guide to Watering Your Lawn 

5. Your Grass Is Too Thin

Weeds will thrive in thin grass. They can withstand dry conditions and poor soil much better than your grass can. A thick lawn chokes out most weeds naturally. If your lawn is thin, here are several tips which echo the advice above:

  • Aerate your lawn
  • Check for proper drainage
  • Make sure you are watering properly
  • Seed with the proper type of grass seed – Fescue & Blue Grass with no weed seeds
  • Make sure you are mowing properly

If you are still dealing with weeds, hopefully this will give you some insight into fixing the problem. If you need help with your lawn, give Heritage Lawns & Irrigation a call. With our Eco-Pride lawn care program, we will help you achieve a healthy lawn which will not only look great, but will choke out most weeds naturally. Call us at 913-396-6858.