Understanding Weeds and How to Control Them
Nothing can ruin the curb appeal of your home like weeds. Maybe you have a few. Maybe more. Regardless, you want your lawn to be weed-free. It seems like a simple request. We hear this request often and we can help battle this issue. Understanding the different common weeds we see in Central Indiana and how to treat them is half the battle.
Weeds are broken up into two main classifications; broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds.
The main classification of a broadleaf weed comes from their wide leaves that have a main vein that runs from the center leading to smaller veins. Besides this, broadleaf weeds can vary from single a flower to blossom clusters. They can be annual or perennial, they can have a taproot and/or a root system. A broadleaf herbicide can be used to control most broadleaf weeds with a few exceptions. However, because not all weeds are the same, some weeds only need one application while others may need multiple. Common broadleaf weeds found in Central Indiana lawns are:
- Wild Violet
- Ground Ivy
Grassy weeds are classified mainly because of their close resemblance to types of grasses. Because of this; grassy weeds can be hard to identify. Some characteristics of grassy weeds include hollow round stems, closed joints with alternating leaf blades that branch off of each side, and that they germinate from a seed coming out of the ground as a single leaf. Grassy weeds can be largely prevented by applying a pre-emergent to the lawn in the spring. Although, post-emergent can be used if needed as well. Common grassy weeds found in Central Indiana include:
- Coarse Fescue
- Barnyard Grass
To learn more about common Central Indiana weeds, check out the Purdue Master Gardener Guide to Common Lawn Weeds.
Identifying Central Indiana’s Five Most Common Weeds
Get to know five of the most common weeds in our state, and how you can start getting rid of them today!
Arguably the most common weed around here, many folks don’t even realize they have it growing at home because it looks a lot like real grass. Crabgrass is often found in the yards of homeowners who skipped spring fertilizing and pre-emergent treatments. It is green and easily blends in with the rest of your lawn, but telltale signs include thicker blades that don’t grow at the same speed as your turfgrass, and side shoots that look like tiny branches – crabgrass grows outward as it grows upward.
One of the easiest ways to promote crabgrass growth in your lawn is by cutting your grass too short – something many of us who hate mowing have done.
Like crabgrass, foxtail is an annual weed that likes to return every year if not properly treated. It gets its name from the long, bushy top when it is full-grown, which resembles a fox’s tail. Also like crabgrass, it is often mistaken for real grass when it starts and isn’t noticed until it begins to take over your lawn. Foxtail is more prone to lawns with thin, not lush grass cover, and bare grounds and gardens. However, it isn’t picky and can grow in moist or dry conditions.
A full, healthy, well-fed lawn is necessary to prevent foxtail from taking hold.
Ground Ivy (Glechoma Hederacea)
The perennial broadleaf weed known as ground ivy is a perennial problem for many homeowners across Indiana. Like the rest of the weeds in this guide, it is pretty hearty in a variety of settings, but you are more likely to find it if you have a lot of tree cover or other shady spots in your yard. Ground ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie, features slender vines that grow outward and hug the ground. Its leaves are rounded with scalloped edges. It lets off a minty aroma when stepped on or mowed over. In late spring, tiny purple flowers sprout. Ground ivy is one of the most pervasive and hard to kill weeds. A high-quality selective herbicide can help, but be sure to follow the manufacturer instructions carefully.
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale)
Oh, the dandelion … a favorite for kids and the bane of most adults’ existence. The unmistakable yellow blossoms of dandelion weeds prefer sunlight but can also grow in the shade. When it’s time to reproduce, their puffy balls of seed let loose with the slightest bump or breeze.
Dandelion leaves form a small patch at the base of the ground, and their taproots can be difficult to fully remove. Unless the root is completely removed or killed, pieces of it will produce new plants.
If you want the ultimate protection from all types of weeds, talk to the team at Lawn Pride of Indianapolis. Be sure to ask about our guaranteed seven-application program, a multipurpose weed control solution that is tailored to your lawn. Get the yard of your dreams by getting in touch with Lawn Pride today!
Nutsedge (several Cyperus variants)
Also commonly known as nutgrass, this fast-growing perennial isn’t a grass – it’s yet another aggressive weed that can be pretty tough to kill. Nutsedge loves the hot summer months, and it stands out from your real grass blades because it tends to stand a bit taller. Its pale green strands grow faster than most grasses. If you can’t discern the slight color differences, nutsedge is easily identified by its stems that grow in the shape of a “V.”
While some specialized herbicides on the market specifically target nutsedge, another alternative is simply adjusting your mowing technique. Raise the height setting on your mower and leave your lawn taller. This will strengthen your grass, which in turn will muscle this weed out of the way.
Spurge (Euphorbia Maculata)
“I think I can, I think I can.” Remember that classic fairytale? Well, spurge is the little weed that could, and it turns into a big nuisance for homeowners across Indiana. This dense plant is easily identified by its red stems and green leaves with small red spots. Spurge can take root and grow quickly just about anywhere. It especially thrives in thin, weak areas of your yard, in flower beds, and even between cracks or stones in your sidewalk and driveway.
You’ll need to put a bit of back into it, but spurge is one of our favorite weeds to uproot by hand. Although it grows fast and a single plant can produce more than a thousand seeds, it is no match for the sharp eye of a homeowner. For larger patches and preventative measures, use a grass-safe herbicide and be sure to maintain a healthy, well-manicured lawn.
Thistle (Asteracae Family)
All weeds are stubborn, but thistles are right up there at the top when it comes to being simply annoying. Pluck ‘em, pull ‘em, spray ‘em, stomp ‘em … they always seem to come back! There are several varieties of thistle, but many of the more common plants we see around here tend to feature a blooming purple flower and sharp, pointy green leaves.
Some weed killers work on thistle, but you need to make sure you apply enough to reach their taproots while taking care not to overspray or splash nearby beneficial plants and grasses. If you’re patient, you can take note of where thistles are growing around your lawn and cut the stems below the lowest leaves with a good pair of garden shears. Although the plants will grow back, if you repeat this process a few more times, the roots will become too weak to regrow and will die. Your best bet is to uproot the entire plant. Remember to wear gloves because those leaves are sharp! Thistle roots are strong, so you’ll want to loosen the soil by digging around the plant, firmly grasp the root ball, and pull up while gently twisting your wrist. But be warned – if any piece of root remains underground, you can bet a new thistle will bloom before long.
How Weeds Spread
Bird and Animal Droppings – When birds and animals eat weeds, berries, and seeds out in the wild, they may transfer them to your lawn. This can lead to all kinds of unexpected plant appearances.
The Breeze – Many plants cleverly design their spores to be transportable via even the gentlest breeze, which can carry them a few feet or a few miles, depending on its strength and the altitude where the seed starts.
Hidden Roots and Seeds – Over the years, weed seeds and roots inevitably get left behind in the soil. Even if you don’t see them, there are usually many just below the surface, just waiting to gain access to the air and light they need to grow.
Edging – When you edge along your sidewalk you expose buried seeds to sun and air. The more you edge or the deeper/wider you edge, the more likely weeds will appear.
But there is hope. Weeds hate a healthy lawn. Weeds need sun and air to germinate. If your lawn is thick and mowed high, you eliminate what weeds need to grow. And while there is no guarantee against weeds, together we can help eliminate most of them.
Getting rid of weeds can sometimes be tricky because not all weeds are the same. At Lawn Pride, we know that understanding weeds is half the battle.
Basic Weed Prevention & Control
The best defense is a good offense. Weeds can only grow where they have the opportunity to grow. This means that we can help prevent weeds by making sure the lawn is thick and healthy.. If you’re seeing lots of weeds in your lawn, that is a sign that your lawn is thinning.
Aerate and Seed
Aeration and seeding can help to thicken up the lawn leaving less room for weeds to germinate. It is important to understand that constant changes in weather can be stressful on lawns. This can deplete nutrients and cause thinning in the lawn.
Consistent Lawn Treatments
Keeping the root system well-fed with the right amount of nutrients and water it needs to stay healthy can also go a long way in maintaining the health and density of your lawn. A pre-emergent application in the spring can help keep grassy weeds at bay. As for broadleaf weeds, a consistent broadleaf herbicide regimen will help with any existing weeds
Let the Pros Do It!
Treating weeds is a continuous battle that depends on temperature, humidity, and timing. Let the experts help you. Lawn Pride takes weed control to the next level by pairing proper weed control with vital nutrients to keep your lawn green and healthy throughout the season. For best overall results, try our 7-Application Lawn Care Program.
Have additional questions? The experts at Lawn Pride are here to help you get the answers you need. Call us at 317-251-6800