How to Kill Weeds: Natural Ways to Win the War This Summer 

Spraying weeds with herbicide has traditionally been the way to win the war on weeds. Recently, concerns have cropped up about how these toxic chemicals might affect our health. What if you want to go the eco-friendly route—can you still wipe out weeds?  Here are some proven all-natural techniques to keep weeds at bay... 

  • Crowd out weeds with a healthy lawn. The best defense against weeds is keeping the grass healthy to begin with. This technique is called “crowding out the weeds.” Proper lawn maintenance habits, such as keeping your mower blade sharp and mowing during the mornings and evenings, as opposed to the hottest part of the day, are easy steps you can take to keep your lawn healthy. 

  • Keep bare patches to a minimum. Weeds sprout the fastest in bare patches of lawn where the grass is either dead or dying. To avoid lifeless patches of dirt, right before the grass begins to grow in the spring, it’s a good idea to overseed (in other words, plant extra seeds to thicken your lawn) and aerate, which adds oxygen to the soil. 

  • Don't cut the lawn too short. A common mistake made by homeowners, in an attempt to increase the time they can leave before they have to mow their lawn again, is to cut the grass really short. But this risks scalping the lawn, creating the perfect opportunity for weeds to creep in while the grass struggles to grow back to its optimal height. As a general rule, never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. 

  • Water grass infrequently and deeply. Frequent watering in short bursts results in grass with shallow roots; it also helps crabgrass, chickweed, sedges, and other weed seeds to germinate. However, if you water too little, the lawn suffers, while weeds adapted to drier soil, like spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, and quack grass, can thrive. The best compromise is to give your lawn deep soakings about once a week. Most types of grass need only about an inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to check on when you have applied 1 inch of water. 

  • Handpick weeds the right way. Handpicking weeds can certainly nip them in the bud. Just make sure to pull them up slowly, in order to remove the entire root system.  Simply picking the stem will allow the weed to grow right back in where it was. 

Even if you do everything perfectly and eliminate every weed from your property, every time there's a strong wind, you are receiving weed seed delivery from neighboring properties.  So keep your eyes peeled, and get your lawn in great shape to fight the good fight. 
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