By getting rid of nature’s invasive plants, we can reap the benefits of a healthy, green lawn. But keeping the lawn and garden weed-free in Atlanta can be challenging, especially in the warmer months. While we can’t always prevent them from spouting, we can stop them from spreading. Here are some tips for controlling the worst weeds in Atlanta.
The best defense against any weed is a lush, healthy lawn. Weeds search for bare areas and tend to leave mowed, fertilized, watered turf alone. Most weeds can’t tolerate being mowed. Bermudagrass, Zoysia and centipedegrass hold up well in Atlanta’s hot and humid summers and will spread quickly, crowding out the invaders.
Pull Weeds Early and Often
Allowing a weed to mature and go to seed is an invitation for more weeds to appear. Be on the lookout for the first pop-ups and dig them out at the roots to prevent them from germinating. Avoid using string trimmers, also known as weed eaters. These machines don’t really “eat” — they chop, leaving roots intact.
Dispose of pulled weeds in the trash, instead of allowing them to lay on the ground so that they can’t re-establish.
Identifying Common Atlanta Weeds
If you identify your enemy, it’s easier to defeat it. So let’s get started by listing the five most common weeds in Atlanta.
Known as one of the most aggressive weeds in Georgia, crabgrass is also the most common. It shows up in early spring, but it actually starts germinating at the end of winter, way before most of us have thought about lawn care. It can grow up to 2 feet tall. Although it dies off during the first frost, its seeds can live in the soil for up to three years. The best way to fight this weed is to apply a pre-emergent weed control treatment at the end of winter before the ground warms.
The critical number to remember is 52. When the soil (not the air) reaches 52 degrees Fahrenheit, crabgrass and other weeds will germinate. In Atlanta, that generally means March 1 is a good time to mark on your calendar. To be certain, check the free soil temperature map maintained by the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies.
Don’t let the appearance of this flowering weed fool you. Chickweed can be a nuisance when you’re trying to create a nice lawn. It spreads quickly, and unless you kill the roots, the plant will regenerate in no time. One plant can produce 800 seeds in one year as it tries to take over your lawn.
This weed is often confused with the dandelion because of the shape of its leaves. A single plant can produce up to 23,000 seeds, sending this weed from the lawn into the garden in no time. The best way to get rid of these is to pull them up from the roots when the ground is damp. Mowing is not a good idea since the sap inside the wild lettuce weed can often damage machinery.
Annual bluegrass starts germinating in the fall when temperatures drop below 70 degrees. It doesn’t flower until spring, just as your grass is making a comeback. It’s especially hard to get rid of in fine fescue lawns, since killing the weed can often damage the grass. The best way to get rid of it is to use a pre-emergent herbicide and then reseed your lawn with other grass types in the fall.
Although clover was once a regular part of seed mixes, today, some consider it a weed. To kill clover, it must also be pulled up by the roots. Don’t toss the pulled weed onto the ground. These weeds can germinate long after they’re pulled.
Keeping on Top of Weeds
Once again, a healthy lawn is your best weapon against all invasive plants. You should also mulch around your plants and trees to cover any bare ground where weeds may try to settle. Once they find clear areas in your yard, it’s easy for them to germinate and spread to the lawn.
Weed control isn’t an exact science. Even the best gardener finds weeds that manage to sneak into the yard. So keep the shovel and garden trowel handy and get ready to pull.
Do you have more questions about weeds or want to find out more about lawn care in Atlanta? Visit our Atlanta, GA lawn care page for more information.