Of all the things that can be problematic to Northern Virginia lawns, weeds have got to be among the worst.
When a weed shows up in your lawn, it tends to do so without warning and in a big way. It’s like there’s a spotlight on its nasty, leggy, ugly appearance before you can even think about how to tackle it. It certainly stands out in the wrong way.
Then what makes things worse is weeds travel in what feels like doubles and triples with their unsightly friends, making them seem to have a major impact nearly overnight. In fact, hundreds and thousands of weed seeds can actually survive in the soil for years before they germinate and grow into those blemishes in your lawn. So they are always ready for the chance to get in the spotlight. They just need the right conditions and then they appear.
And, unfortunately, in Northern Virginia, weeds are not only prevalent but tough to control. We can all agree weeds are an eyesore, but did you also know they are a risk to your healthy grass as they can choke it out when given the chance.
So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to figure out the best time of year to spray weed killer so you can save your lawn.
To make good decisions for your grass, we’re here to help educate you on lawn care so you can realize success. Here are our best pro tips on weed control.
The Top 3 Weed Control Tips
Weeds are pretty sneaky. You might call them advantageous. They like to spring up whenever they get the opportunity.
You don’t want those weeds emerging throughout the growing season, taking away from the overall beauty and enjoyment of your lawn.
Understanding the best time of year to spray weed killer in Northern Virginia means knowing which weeds are able to be controlled before they emerge and which weeds need a different approach.
1. A Proper Weed ID is the Best Place to Start
Sure, you likely wish you could just spray for weeds once and call it a job well done.
Unfortunately, weeds are a little trickier than that. Some Northern Virginia weeds are annual, while others are perennial. And there are different groups of weeds in those two categories that germinate at different times of the year. Some weed control strategies can even be applied to multiple types of weeds from the various categories, but others require their own unique treatments.
One way to break these down is by season. Each season tends to come with its own types of weeds. Knowing these facts can help you figure out exactly when to kill weeds.
Weeds Kick Off the Year in the Spring
As the weather warms up, weeds feel the heat and begin germinating, so this season ranks at the top of the list of when to kill weeds.
In fact, once soil temperatures reach about 55 degrees, usually around mid-March. In addition to weather warming up, increased rainfall can also help weeds spread at this time of the year.
Some spring weeds we deal with in Northern Virginia include chickweed, purple deadnettle, dandelions, and ground ivy.
Weeds Continue Germinating in the Summer Months
Many summer weeds actually sprout up in the spring and then continue through the summer season.
One example is Virginia buttonweed, a broadleaf perennial that pops up gradually in spring and then continues strong into the warmer months.
Another summer weed that germinates in mid-spring is spotted surge, which actually thrives in the summer heat.
And, of course, the dreaded crabgrass, an annual grassy weed, germinates in spring to begin its reign, making it a big one on your when to kill weeds list. It continues germinating all summer and then tends to die out with the first frost.
Weeds Don’t Stop Their Wrath in Fall and Winter
It’s easy for you to start to forget about weeds in autumn and winter. As things get cooler and growth slows, we tend to not prioritize the outdoors. You cozy up inside and might be completely blind to the fact that there are some fall and winter annual weeds that you shouldn't neglect.
Some weeds like henbit are winter annuals that sneak into your lawn during warm, winter days. Then they continue their growth in the spring. So while you think of them as spring weeds because you see them then and you’re outdoors more, they are actually fall or winter weeds.
2. Year-Round is a Great Strategy For Killing Weeds
When you consider that various weeds crop up all year long, then it’s clear that the best time of year to spray weed killer is through a comprehensive program that involves all of the seasons. Obviously, you can’t just target spring weeds and expect a great looking lawn all year if you neglect taking care of summer or fall weeds.
As weeds germinate and grow, you have to have a process to target them.
Choosing a lawn care service provider that can switch up its approach based on time of year, utilizing pre-emergent herbicide controls when needed to prevent some weeds, as well as post-emergent controls to handle those that break through, is essential.
Your professional lawn care company should be able to properly identify weeds in your yard and have a solid mix of weed control products they can use to combat them. This involves having some specialized weed control products they can use on certain weeds that can’t be controlled in other ways.
Take nutsedge, for example. This weed doesn’t go away without a specialty control plan, designed to fight it. As an aggressive weed, nutsedge grows five times faster than your lawn, so it can get out of control quickly. This means it needs to be treated multiple times to keep it from taking over and keep your lawn looking good.
3. Focus on a Complete Lawn Care Program
There is more than one strategy when you’re thinking about when to kill weeds.
Yes, we’re talking about total lawn care. A thicker, healthier, happier lawn will also naturally help choke out weeds – not to mention look great at the same time. So what do you have to lose?
Let’s review some of those things that you can do to strengthen your lawn against weeds.
It Starts With Lawn Soil
Your lawn’s soil is ultimately at the heart of your success or failure at growing a great lawn and fighting weeds.
Your lawn care program should look at soil health as part of your program. This means your service provider will conduct a soil test as part of your lawn care package. They use the data the soil test reveals to develop the science needed to put together a specific program for your lawn versus just guessing at what it might need.
Knowing your soil’s nutrient makeup also enables them to target fertilization and lime applications to your soil so it reaches an optimum pH for your lawn to grow, absorbing water and nutrients more freely.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Aeration and Overseeding
In the fall, aeration and overseeding can help a congested and compacted lawn breathe easier and thicken up, making it an important weed control tip.
Some lawn care companies even perform a double-pass aeration to ensure optimal soil plugs are pulled, letting oxygen back into your soil so water and nutrients can actually reach your grass roots.
On top of aeration and overseeding, some companies also add a little topdressing to this service to improve soil structure and microbial life.
Embrace Cultural Practices
On top of these strategies, you can never neglect proper and regular lawn care as another weed control tip.
This means watering once or twice a week if your lawn isn’t receiving 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. You want to avoid your lawn thinning out as a result of drought stress. That’s when weeds take their chance and sneak into the picture.
Proper mowing is also important. Focus on mowing to a height of 3.5 inches with a sharpened mower blade and well-maintained mower. You want to mow regularly enough during the growing season so you’re not removing more than one-third of your grass blade at any one time. Stressing your lawn by removing too much of the grass blade or cutting it too short can also thin it out and allow weeds to enter in.
Ready to Get Rid of Weeds?
You want a lawn care program that focuses on year-round turf health. Since nothing crowds out weed growth like thick grass, this can really help you on top of having a solid weed control strategy.
After all, you want a lawn you can enjoy – not one that just stresses you out.
By choosing a professional lawn care service in Northern Virginia with a year-round approach on weed control, you can successfully combat weeds and have the great looking lawn you crave. The company you choose should understand weed identification and application timing to ensure the best end result.
If you find yourself not happy with the company you choose or feeling lost in trying to handle weeds or figure out when to kill weeds, let Turf’s Up help. We offer a complete, proactive lawn care service that includes proper fertilization, as well as both pre-emergent and post-emergent treatments throughout the growing season and aeration and overseeding, making you the smartest neighbor on the block. This total program is the best way to keep your lawn weed-free. Our service is also customized, using a soil test to truly make the service unique to your lawn.
Your choice of the right plan for your lawn can mean sweeter summer memories for you and your family.
Ready to learn why Turf’s Up could be your totally awesome choice for lawn care services in Gainesville, Haymarket, and Warrenton, VA? We’re stoked to learn more about you and help you have the best lawn on the block. Get started today with a free quote. Together, we can prepare a customized plan that is perfect for you and your yard.