Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Summer Lawn Care

The Benefits of Preventative Grub Control

As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This statement is spot on when it comes to preventing grubs and the damage associated with them.

Beetle Life Cycle

Before we get into the benefits of preventative grub control, we need to understand grubs and how they can impact your lawn. Grubs are the sub-surface larval stage of beetles. Although there are several types of beetles, most people are familiar with Japanese Beetles because they like to dine on our favorite trees and shrubs. Beetle species in our area typically lay eggs in the summer, sometime between June and early August depending on the species and environmental conditions.

The eggs hatch into grubs, which survive by eating plant roots, especially grass plants. Over time, as the larvae continue to feed, areas of the lawn turn brown and feel sponge like as you walk over it. An easy way to determine if grubs are the culprit is to pull on the actual grass plants. The grass pulls right up like a carpet and expose the feeding grubs underneath. The grubs are typically white and shaped like the letter C.

White grubs burrowing into the soil. The larva of a chafer beetle, sometimes known as the May beetle, June bug or June Beetle.

Grub Prevention

To avoid having this happen to your lawn, apply a preventative grub control to the lawn in the summer. The product moves into the soil prior to the eggs hatching, providing protection to your plants from feeding larvae. The application is very effective at controlling grubs and saves you lots of time and money compared to dealing with the issue after the fact.

Post-Emergent Grub Control

If you did apply a preventative grub control, and you find grubs damaging your lawn, there are still things you can do to help. You should treat the grubs, but keep in mind the treatment is less effective when compared to preventative treatments because the grubs are larger and more mature. Every person on the planet is not born on the same day, we all have different birthdays. The same can be said for grubs. They don’t all hatch from their eggs in the soil on the same day. The younger the grub the more effective the material is on it, the older (more mature) the grub, the less effective the material is on it. At this point it is safe to say that this material applied at this stage will produce about 60-70 percent control results on the actively feeding grubs. Typically, the treatments to control the grubs at this stage of their life cycle requires heavy watering after the application as well. This helps move the product to the root zone, where the grubs are feeding.

When grubs have caused damage to turf, the grass can be easily separated from the soil exposing the grubs underneath.

What is more cost effective?

One benefit to preventative grub control is saving money. Products used to preventatively treat grubs are typically much cheaper than the ones used to control them after they have matured. The results are also more effective when treating them preventatively, so you’re getting better control at a lower cost.

Because grubs feed on the root system, the damage they cause kills the plant and reseeding will be necessary to help those areas recover. Another benefit to preventatively controlling grubs is you won’t have to spend your time and money reseeding grub damaged areas of your turf, that is often very costly.


A little bit of prevention goes a long way when it comes to grub control. Save yourself the time and hassle associated with controlling mature grubs and reseeding damaged areas by getting a preventative grub control application this summer. Whether you do it yourself or have a lawn care professional apply the treatment, we highly recommend it. If you are in our service area and have any questions about grub control, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888.

Lawn Watering Schedule

Summer is in full swing and the warm weather makes it perfect to enjoy your outdoor living space. Unfortunately, the same warm weather and lack of rain can really stress your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape takes a lot of work and effort, but there are few cultural practices that are important to keep your lawn looking great throughout the summer.

In addition to following our mowing best practices, another summer cultural practice that will greatly improve the look of your lawn is to implement a lawn watering schedule. When executing a lawn watering schedule, we highly stress sticking to a schedule. Rotating between watering and not watering can weaken the glass plant. Additionally, these recommendations are for the soil types with a considerable amount of clay in them. For sandy soil, the watering recommendation will be completely different.

properly watered lawn next to dormant lawn

This image captures the difference between a lawn properly watered and a dormant lawn.

Lawn Watering Schedule

The best time to water your lawn is between the hours of 12 am and 6 am. This helps minimize water loss to evaporation because this time of the day is often cooler and more humid. This also allows the water to penetrate deeper into the soil and minimizes the length of time the grass blades remain wet, since the blades will already be covered in dew. This helps reduce the susceptibility for turf diseases.

Frequency of Watering

We recommend watering your lawn like a heavy rainstorm; putting a lot of water down at once! It is important to water in a way that will reach the depth of the turf’s root system. A good starting point in our area is to provide 1 inch of water per week. For underground irrigation systems, you want to have your system set to run 1 – 1 ½ hours twice a week.

If you have hose-end sprinklers, we recommend purchasing a valve timer and setting your sprinkler to run for 4 hours, once per week.  These run times are approximations to get you to 1 inch of water per week, the timing may vary slightly depending on the type of sprinklers installed.

If your following the watering schedule and your soil is still drying out and you notice browning, try adding an extra half hour of run time to each zone. Always start by adding time to the current watering schedule, rather than adding another day.

Frequent and short watering (15 minutes per zone everyday) is not a good lawn watering schedule. It will promote a shallow root system which can weaken the grass plant and encourages disease. Unfortunately, this is something we come across quite often. Deep, infrequent watering is recommended and will help create a deeper root system, resulting in a stronger grass plant.


Once a lawn goes dormant, it will take a few weeks of good watering for the grass to exit dormancy.  Therefore, it is important to start watering early in the year and not stop. If you keep up with the watering schedule, your turf will have plenty of moisture over the entire summer.

Summer is a great time to spend outside but can be very stressful on your lawn. Following a few cultural best practices can really make a difference when it comes to having a healthy lawn all summer long.  If you have any questions about summer cultural practices or want more information about a lawn watering schedule, please request an online estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

What is the Right Grass Mowing Height?

Here in New Jersey, summer time has arrived; and now is the time to enjoy your outdoor living space. There are many ways to make your outdoor property look great this summer, including your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape takes a lot of work and effort, but there are few cultural practices that are important to keep your lawn looking great throughout the summer.

To start, here in New Jersey we deal primarily with northern turf grass species. This includes Rye grass, Blue grass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescues and Chewing Fescue turf varieties. Our below recommendations to follow are averages that can be used by a homeowner to cover norther turf grass species.

One of the very first cultural practices is proper mowing. It may seem like an easy task, just take your mower out of the shed, and go to town on your lawn. There’s a little bit more to it than that, like knowing the right grass mowing height. Below we will go through several mowing best practices.

Grass Mowing Height

Proper grass mowing height and proper frequency is essential to the health of your lawn. The best grass mowing height in our area is about 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. When mowing the lawn, mow off only 1/3 of the grass plant at a time. We recommend frequency of mowing should depend on how tall the grass is, and not necessarily following a calendar schedule. For example, if a lawn is being kept at 3 inches in height, it should be mowed when the grass reaches 4 ½ inches, not every other Wednesday. By removing too much of the grass blade at one time, it can weaken the plant which in turn will reduce its ability to withstand other environmental issues such as disease, surface feeding insects and even invasion of broadleaf weeds.

Also, be very careful not to cut the lawn too short or weedwack the edges too close. This is commonly referred to as scalping. Scalping is when too much of the grass blade is mowed off at one time and the stem and crown of the plants are left exposed. Scalping a lawn whether it is from mowing too short or uneven ground can cause injury to the plant. Raising the mower blades higher will help reduce this problem and watering properly helps aid in recovery of scalped areas. Sometimes seeding is needed to repair permanently damaged scalped areas.

When finding the best grass mowing height, it is best to keep the grass tall. Keeping it tall will help shade the soil under the turf canopy and keep the soil cooler. This will help to reduce the number of weeds that grow.

Frayed blades of grass

This picture displays frayed grass blades from a dull mower blade.

Mowing Blades

You may have already been mowing this season but, make sure that you have the mower blades sharpened regularly and you also perform regular maintenance on your mower like changing the oil and spark plugs regularly. Dull mower blades can tear, bruise and shred the grass blade causing injury to the turf. It can weaken the grass plant, and an open wound on grass blades are excellent spots for disease.

Other Best Practices

We also recommend not mowing your lawn when the grass is wet. Dew or any type of excessive moisture on the grass blades is an excellent way to spread lawn diseases. Also, avoid mowing midday in the full heat of the day because it can place extra stress on the plant. Mow in the cool of the morning after the dew has evaporated, or in the evening.

When mowing the lawn also try to change up the direction you typically mow. Mowing the lawn in same direction every time will cause the grass to lean that way. Mowing in different directions each time you cut the lawn will help the grass grow more upright.

Do not bag your grass clippings because leaving the clippings behind is beneficial for the lawn. This is a process called “grass-cycling”. The benefits of this process are that it puts moisture and nutrients back into the lawn. Contrary to popular belief it does not contribute to thatch build up. Sometimes bagging or removing clippings is unavoidable. If the clippings are too plentiful or too long and clump up, those should be removed. If left in clumps the grass underneath can suffocate and die off.


By following our best practices, like proper grass mowing height, you can reduce various problems in your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape can take a lot of effort and a great amount of knowledge. If you have any questions regarding best mowing practices, please request an estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

Watering the Plants in your Landscape

Homeowners are quick to water the lawn when it begins to turn brown. What many homeowners forget to do is water their plants as well. Trees and shrubs are living things, and like all living things, they need water for survival.

Watering Methods

The big questions are, how much water do your trees and shrubs need, and what is the proper way to water them? There are many variations of ways to watering plants: using a bucket or plant waterer, with a hose, and utilizing an underground sprinkler system are a few methods.

The easiest way to water your plants is by using an underground lawn irrigation system with a timer on it. Set it and forget it, right? The only problem is that your lawn irrigation system function is to water your lawn, not your landscape plants. For example, an automated lawn irrigation system in hot and dry seasons is not going to provide enough water when watering your plants. A specialized irrigation system can be installed for your landscape plants through your irrigation company.

There are also hoses that you can buy at your local garden supply store that you can lay on the ground around the plants, they are normally referred to as soaker hoses. These hoses have tiny holes in them that allows water to seep out of it and into the soil. Additionally, external timers can be purchased at garden centers to turn the water on and off at your discretion. These hoses are handy because once you set them around the plants, all you have to do is to turn on the water. The other option with hoses is to water with a conventional hose without a nozzle attachment. With this type of hose you should place the hose at the base of each plant. With a hose running half of the maximum flow rate, trees can be watered around 30 minutes and shrubs for about five minutes. Depending on the size of your landscape, watering the plants could take quite some time.

Finally, watering with a watering can or bucket is another option. There are pros and cons to this method. Let’s start with the pros. First, you can control the amount of water that is being applied. For instance, you may know how many gallons said bucket is, and you could use that knowledge and to see how much water you are applying. Also, you can better control the rate at which the water is coming out. As for cons, there is one major one, it could be a lot of physical work! The watering can could be heavy and require multiple trips to the spigot for filling.

How much water do you need?

Now that we have watering methods out of the way, how much water is needed for your plants? The general rule is when you water shrubs, soak the soil approximately 12 inches deep. Keep in mind that the roots from the plants can extend out about 3 times the canopy spread. For example, if the canopy spread is about 2 feet, then the root spread would be about 6 feet. These root spreads are vital in taking up water. So, how do you know when you’ve reached the watering depth of 12 inches? A soil probe. This is an apparatus that you insert into the soil and it pulls out a plug. If you can get the probe 12 inches into the soil, you’re fine. As for how often, you should water the plants when the soil probe cannot get past 3-4 inches.

How often should you water your flowers and perennials? They do not need as much water as trees and shrubs because their root zone is closer to the soil. During hot, dry periods, you should water every day to where the soil is moist. These types of plants can dry out quickly if not watered frequently enough. You should also water early in the morning because it would allow the foliage of flowers to dry out. Leaving the foliage wet for too long can allow the plants to be more susceptible to diseases.

Finally, newly transplanted trees and shrubs require more water than established plants. Keep in mind that these plants are planted with a root zone that is much smaller than that of an established plant. So, for new transplants, watering as close to the base of the plants is best to allow the water to seep into the root zone. Water these plants every other day for the first couple months to promote establishment. It can take 2 to 3 years before a newly transplanted tree or shrub becomes firmly established.


Being vigilant with watering your plants allows you to enjoy the beauty of the landscape you are trying to create. If you are in our service area or have any questions, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888 or visit our website at www.fairwaygreeninc.com.


11 Summer Lawn Care Tips

When thinking of summer we often think of relaxing and enjoying our home and lawn. The summer however, is the most stressful time of year for a lawn, it is brutally hot and very tough on your turf. Below are our 11 lawn care tips for the summer to keep your lawn healthy and green all season long.

Mow properly

Mowing at the proper height is essential. Mowing the turf high is best for the health of your grass and it is recommended to keep the grass cut at 3 – 3 ½ inches throughout the season. By keeping the grass taller, the lawn obtains more sunlight during the day which helps the grass produce food and energy. Keeping the grass tall also helps to shade the soil under the turf canopy, helping to keep the soil moist and reduce weed growth. Mowing too short weakens the turf which causes stress to the grass plant leading to drought stress, disease activity and permanent injury.

Sharpen mower blades

Have the mower blades sharpened regularly throughout the season. Keeping the blades razor sharp ensures that the grass is getting cut cleanly. When the blades are dull they rip or shred the grass blades which is harmful to the grass. This weakening of the turf can lead to drought stress, disease activity and even permanent injury. It is best to wash off your lawn equipment to avoid spreading disease to the turf the next time the lawn is mowed.

Leave grass clippings

Leave your grass clippings behind. By bagging your grass clippings, you are robbing your lawn of any extra nutrients that it can use throughout the summer months. Also leaving the clippings behind shades the soil, helping to maintain moisture.

Fertilize your lawn

Applying fertilizer in the summer gives your lawn nutrients on a regular basis and helps to keep it growing and healthy.

Properly water your lawn

It is recommended that a lawn be watered between 12 am and 6 am. An underground irrigation system should be run 1- 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should be run for 4 hours per zone once per week, both resulting in 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. Watering in the early evening (6 pm – 12 am) keeps the lawn wetter longer, which increases disease activity. Watering during the early morning hours reduces the amount of time your lawn is wet which minimizes disease activity. It also reduces water evaporation. Watering during the day (12 pm – 6 pm) is not beneficial to your lawn because most of the water being applied during the day evaporates by the sun and will not be utilized by the plant. Frequent and short watering causes a shallow root system which weakens the grass plants. Watering properly helps create a deeper, stronger root system which creates a healthier, greener lawn. Check out our blog article to learn more about watering your lawn.

Control lawn disease

If a disease outbreak does occur, a fungicide can be applied. A fungicide stops the further spreading of a disease to uninfected areas of the lawn for about 20-30 days depending on site conditions. If environmental conditions do not improve, multiple fungicides will be needed until the disease is in-active.

Control surface feeding insects

Surface feeding insects can cause substantial damage during the season. If the turf is struggling or weak, insects exploit that weakness and cause damage. Insect damage starts out looking like drought stress then gradually the turf thins and turns yellow. Insect controls should be applied when the insects are present. Additionally, insect damage can be permanent and seeding to repair the damage may be needed.

Apply a grub preventer

A grub preventer protects your lawn against grubs and the damage associated with them, which can be quite extensive. Grubs are the larva of beetles, and they chew off the roots close to the soil surface severing the plant from the roots. Signs of grub damage include; gradual thinning, yellowing, wilting and the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. The patches can increase in size and may join together to form larger areas of dead grass. Grub damage can be permanent and seeding to repair the damage may be needed. If interested in learning more about grubs and how to control them, check out a more indepth description here.

Control the weeds

Throughout the summer, weeds can become a major problem. They can be hand pulled or controlled using a more traditional method way, applying herbicide. Whatever method of control you choose, keeping the lawn weed free results in a healthy and great looking lawn. If you want to learn more about weed control, more information can be found here.

Clean up after your pet

Pet damage can kill off small portions of lawn wherever your pet relieves itself. Rinse the areas with water to flush out the pet’s urine in the soil. It is best to have your pet go onto a mulched area or a non-conspicuous area of the lawn. Pet damage at the end of the season needs to be repaired by seeding.

Seed the lawn

If at the end of the season your lawn is thin or bare from disease, insect, grub or pet damage, it is best to seed from the middle of August through the end of September. Seeding is the only way to reestablish grass in an area that has no grass or to fix any damage that has happened from the summer months. Make sure to purchase grass types appropriate to the location where the seeding is taking place, meaning if it is a shady area use shade tolerant grass types, if it’s in a sunny area use sun tolerant grass types.

These four steps below can help to make any seeding a successful seeding:

Step 1. Loosen the soil or add a layer of top soil to a 1 – 1 ½ inch depth.

Step 2. Apply the appropriate amount of grass seed. To find out what that may be, we recommend reading the label on the bag and consulting online research.

Step 3. Spread the grass seed and lightly mix the seed and loosened soil together (the more seed to soil contact the better the germination rate).

Step 4. Water, 20 minutes per zone twice per day for 6 – 8 weeks after seeding is completed to keep the soil moist.


There is nothing more important than good cultural practices. Summer lawn treatments can include proper watering, mowing, fertilizing and weed and insect control. These steps can keep your lawn healthy and beautiful all season long.

If you are looking for lawn service or have questions and are in our service area, give Fairway Green Inc. a call at 908-281-7888, we are happy to help.

How to Get Rid of Nutsedge

Nutsedge has become one of the most problematic weeds in home lawns and landscape beds throughout New Jersey, but there are ways to help you get rid of nutsedge on your property.

What is Nutsedge?

Nutsedge, or sometimes called “Nutgrass”, is a perennial weed from the “sedge” family. A “sedge” is a plant that looks like grass but is not a grass at all. A nutsedge plant spreads underground through rhizomes and tubers. Nutsedge survives from one season to the next by producing nutlets, which are small underground bulb-like seeds.The roots and rhizomes can produce several hundred of these nutlets during the active growing months. A nutsedge plant also produces seeds above the soil surface, which can aid in spreading nutsedge even further. Once the region gets its first frost of the season, it dies off on its own; however, the nutlets under the soil survives over the winter and regrow the next year. They have the ability to live under the soil for multiple years at a time. Getting rid of nutgrass or nutsedge may be difficult, but there are ways to help control the weed.

What does Nutsedge look like?

A surefire sign your lawn has nutsedge is that the rapidly growing plant grows faster than the rest of the lawn. During the summer when your lawn is not growing as fast, the taller upright green plant that looks like grass is probably nutsedge. The blades of nutsedge are yellow or light green in color and have a narrow linear folded midrib and the blades have a slick, shiny or waxy appearance. The blades are arranged in groups of three which also distinguishes itself from regular grass types. Nutsedge has a triangle shaped stem that can be felt when rolled between your fingertips. When nutsedge gets tall enough it forms a cluster of seed heads that radiate out from the top of the flower’s stalk.

Nutsedge control

Nutsedge mostly grows in areas of high moisture, which normally include low lying areas of the lawn, poor drainage areas or next to a broken/leaky sprinkler head. Once it is established, it can tolerate normal levels of moisture and thrive throughout the hot dry summer months.

This most common and effective approach to getting rid of nutsedge is with a chemical application; however, there is no preventative treatment available for nutsedge. It can only be controlled by a post-emergent herbicide. The key to controlling nutsedge is to kill off the nutlet with a herbicide product, most control products take about 10-14 days to completely kill off the plant. It is difficult to get rid of nutsedge and it may require multiple treatments.

The main cause of nutsedge is poor soil that holds water for extended periods of time. If the lawn has drainage problems a professional may need to be called in to regrade the property with fresh soil and add drain pipes to redirect the water that sits for long periods of time. Core aeration is also recommended annually to help reduce the soil compaction. Once the compaction is reduced the water is able to infiltrate the soill more effectively.

Cultural controls are a good defense against nutsedge. A thick dense lawn helps to out compete nutsedge and weeds; therefore to encourage a thick lawn, fertilize regularly to promote growth.
Hand weeding is not an option, because pulling out the plants individually leaves part of the root, rhizomes, and nutlets in the ground only to regrow in a few weeks.

The final cultural practice that helps your fight against nutsedge is proper watering. Most irrigation systems are set up 20 minutes per zone every day and this only makes the nutsedge problem worse. Nutsedge loves to be in very moist soil. Watering every day in short spurts keeps your soil moist for longer periods of time causing the nutsedge plants to thrive. Proper watering for underground irrigation is 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week and for hose-end sprinklers it is 4 hours per zone once per week. Watering for longer periods of time but infrequently helps the water trickle down through the soil and promotes deep root growth.

If you have nutsedge and are located in our service area, give us a call at 908-281-7888 for a free estimate, and we can help you plan the best course of action to get rid of nutsedge in your lawn.

How to Water Your Lawn in the Summer Months

Prior to the summer heat setting in, deciding whether or not to spend the time during the season on watering your lawn is an important decision to be made. A lawn’s self-defense against summer drought is to go dormant, similar to what a lawn does over the winter. The lawn stops top growth, turns brown and as a result, puts all its energy to keeping the roots alive. If you decide that spending the time and money on keeping your lawn green and growing during the summer months, watering your lawn on a regular basis and before the summer heat hits is imperative. Once a lawn goes under drought stress and turns brown (its dormant state) it takes a longer time to “green” back up. Also, it is recommended that you do not rotate between watering and not watering. We recommend to choose one and stick with it. By rotating, the grass plant is actually using up a lot of its food reserves and weakens the turf even further.


There are many methods for maintaining a watered lawn; Mother Nature, hose-end sprinklers, and a lot of people also have underground irrigation systems that do all of the work for them. All that needs to be done is to assure that the timer is set to the appropriate day and interval. The image below demonstrates the difference between correctly watering a lawn and one that does not receive water during the hot summer months.

Your irrigation company is hired to check the functioning of the system and does some basic scheduling; however, the schedule they set up may not be what is best for your lawn. Some irrigation companies still go by the outdated recommendation of watering your lawn for 20 minutes every-other day. This scheduling produces inadequate water and promotes shallow root systems, all of which are not good for your lawn. Watering too frequently promotes disease issues as well.

To start, all lawns in our area should receive at least 1 inch of water per week. Our starting recommendation for underground irrigation systems is to run each zone for 1 hour, twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should run for 4 hours per zone, once per week. It is important to remember that each sprinkler system is different and has varying water pressures; therefore our recommendations are a good starting point, but each system may need adjustments. Additionally, as the temperatures get higher and when/if the color of the lawn is starting to diminish, add more time by half hour increments to the watering schedule; do not add more days.

Early evening watering, between 6 pm to midnight, keeps the lawn wet for a longer period of time. This creates disease issues that can be widespread on the lawn and can cause permanent damage to the turf. The optimal time to water your lawn is between midnight and 6am. Watering your lawn during this time ensures the lawn is not wet for longer than it needs to be and by drying out early enough reduces the spread of disease and evaporation from direct sunlight.

Watering your lawn in the early morning presents a challenge for those who do not have underground irrigation and use hose-end sprinklers. Fortunately, now you can purchase battery operated timers from any home improvement store or co-op. These timers hook up directly to the spigot and turn on and off the flow of water after setting the desired times into this helpful piece of equipment.

Further, when watering your lawn be sure to check on the spray pattern no matter what type of irrigation system is used. It’s very important to make sure that the sprinkler heads are adjusted and working properly to have even coverage and that enough water is being applied to the lawn. Make sure the spray patterns are overlapping and not missing any spots. There are tests that can be performed for the amount of water that is being put out from the sprinkler heads. You can take a coffee can, any flat sided container or rain gauge, and set it out while the irrigation system runs. After the cycle is complete, see if the amount of water equals a ½ inch, and then make appropriate adjustments. To learn more about adjusting sprinkler heads for an accurate spray pattern, check out our blog. Further, modern control panels with irrigation systems have built in rain gauges and soil moisture sensors to help you water appropriately for your lawn.

Finally, if rain is expected there is no need to water your lawn in addition, but make sure to keep track of the amount of rainfall. It’s not necessary to apply more water to the lawn than is needed because too much water is also not good for the lawn. Disease issues and ponding are two common problems created by over watering your lawn. If the lawn collects too much water in poorly drained areas the water is not able to filter it down into the soil causing the grass a loss of oxygen that suffocates and kills the turf.


Consequently, watering your lawn has more components than most may imagine, but with some helpful tips provided above, we have confidence that everyone can achieve a green lawn through the summer months.
If you are in our service area and want more information about watering your lawn, please feel free to contact Fairway Green Inc. at 908-281-7888.

Why Weeds Grow and How to Control Them

What is a weed?

A weed is defined as any plant growing in locations that are not desired, like in a lawn or landscape.

Why do weeds grow?

Weeds are considered opportunistic and grow when conditions are favorable, such as specific temperatures, lawn moisture levels, bare or thin turf areas, and can even grow in cracks in the roads, sidewalks or driveways.  Weeds have the ability to grow anywhere there’s room. Weed seeds come in abundance and from many sources while also having the ability to lay dormant in the soil for years before germinating. When actively growing, weeds produce thousands of seeds per plant and disperse them throughout the season. Some weeds like dandelions are spread with a little help from the wind. Other sources of weeds include poor quality grass seed purchased from the store and soils brought in for new plantings.

Types of weeds

There are three different types of weeds in every lawn and landscape bed. All can be controlled; however, some are easier than others.

  1. Annual Weeds. These types of weeds spread by setting seed, germinating and growing for one season then dying off on their own at the end of their life cycle. These would include hairy bittercress, oxalis, groundsel and chickweed.
  2. Biennial Weeds. Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle. In the first year a seed germinates and produces a leafy plant. The following year, the plant flowers to produce seeds that then restart the new life cycle of the plant seed. These would include clover, wild carrot and prickly lettuce.
  3. Perennial Weeds. These types of weeds grow for multiple seasons and spread by both setting seed and/or through their root system. These include dandelion, thistle and ground ivy.

How to kill weeds in the lawn

There are many ways to control or reduce weeds in a lawn. One option is to apply a preventative pre-emergent control; however, there is currently no single product that covers the entire spectrum of broadleaf weeds. Most commonly used are post-emergent herbicides when controlling weeds in a lawn or landscape.

Selective herbicides are another way to get rid of weeds in a lawn. The most widely used selective herbicides work by disrupting chemical processes happening inside the weeds. The herbicide mimics a natural plant chemical that stimulates uncontrollable growth. The weeds’ growth happens quicker than the plant can handle and dies.

Other selective herbicides target photosynthesis; the process in which plants produce energy/food from the sunlight it receives. By blocking the photosynthesis process, the weed basically starves to death.

There are also non-selective herbicides that target enzymes in the plant’s cells. The herbicide disrupts the sequence of chemical reactions and produces toxic compounds within the plant causing it to die off. A type of non-selective herbicide is the chemical called glyphosate, commonly known as “Round-Up.” A non-selective herbicide kills off any foliage that was sprayed. This type of product should be used with caution to reduce damaging desirable turf species and ornamental plants and grasses.

The natural way to get rid of weeds in your lawn is to hand pick them out. On smaller size lawns and mulch beds this is an effective way to control a small number of weeds. If you can pick the annual weeds before they flower and produce seed, you can aid in reducing the number of weeds that regrow. Keep in mind, weeds have roots that grow underground, hand pulling tears off the top foliage but the plant’s roots are left behind which can then regrow the plant. You need to remove all the roots to be successful and this is a difficult way to achieve it.

Cultural practices also play a key role in creating a more weed free lawn. Following these simple steps helps your lawn to be the healthiest it can be.

  1. Keep your lawn dense. By having a thick, full lawn you essentially help “crowd out” the weeds. Weeds grow when there is space for them and a thick lawn reduces available space for the weeds to grow in. Any bare or thin areas at the end of the season should be seeded in the early fall (September) of each year to thicken up the turf density.
  2. Fertilize regularly. Proper fertilization helps feed the lawn and keep it growing and healthy throughout the year.
  3. Mow regularly and keep the grass blades high. It is recommended that the grass be kept at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Remove the top 1/3 of the grass blade at a time per mowing. This helps shade the soil underneath the grass canopy, which in turn helps reduce weed growth. Mow when the lawn needs to be mowed. Do not mow just because the lawn gets cut every Wednesday. Also, avoid scalping of the lawn by driveways, walkways, patios etc. with a weed wacker or trimmer. If the edges get cut too short they die off, causing the grass to thin back creating bare soil and an opportunity for the weeds to grow in that area.
  4. Water properly. It is recommended a lawn with underground irrigation be watered 1- 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should be run for 4 hours per zone once per week both resulting in 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. Frequent and short watering causes a shallow root system that weakens the plants. Watering properly helps create a deeper, stronger root system in the lawn, which in turn creates a healthier lawn. To learn more about watering your lawn correctly, check out our watering blog.
  5. Core aerate every year. Core Aeration is a great process that can be done; however, it is a costly process, which is why we recommend at least every other year. Core aeration helps improve the root system of the grass plant which creates a stronger plant overall. It also helps reduce the thatch layer and keep it at an optimal level which aids in better air circulation, water and nutrient infiltration to the root zone. For more benefits on core aeration, see our core aeration blog post.
  6. Apply lime when the pH of the soil is low. Keeping the pH within the proper range (6.3 – 6.5) improves the availability of the nutrients in the soil making them more readily available to the grass plants. Here’s a great article on the benefits of applying lime to your lawn and having optimal pH levels.


Weeds are extremely opportunistic plants that can enter your lawn from a variety of different sources. The best way to reduce weeds is to have a healthy and dense lawn. That being said, not everyone has the perfect lawn and herbicides may be necessary to get rid of your weeds. Herbicides are a cost effective and not very labor-intensive way to keep your lawn and landscape weed free. If you are in our service area and have any questions about controlling weeds, please give our office a call.

How To Water A Lawn

What happens if I don’t water?

All living things need water to survive, and your lawn is no exception. Each summer, many lawns in our area experience heat and moisture stress, causing them to turn brown. Without proper irrigation, these lawns may remain brown until regular and consistent rainfall returns. Correctly watering your lawn will make a drastic difference in health and color as depicted in the photo below.

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