University of Maryland Extension

Tips for Lawn Weed Prevention and Management

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Tips for Lawn Weed Prevention and Management

  • Proper fertilizing, mowing, and overseeding will produce a healthier, thicker lawn, less susceptible to weed infestations. Research shows that mowing fescue at 3-4 inches and seeding bare spots will reduce crabgrass infestations. 
  • Identify the weed. This is very important in helping to decide what your next step will be.  
  • Weeds like nutsedge, common lespedeza, and wild violet can indicate that growing conditions are poor for grass growth. Moss does not kill grass but moves into shady, moist areas where the grass has thinned out. If poor growing conditions (e.g., low sunlight, poor drainage, acidic and compacted soil) cannot be improved to favor turfgrass, weeds will continue to be a problem. Conditions Favoring Lawn Weed Growth
  • Hand pull or use a tool to manually remove weeds. The task is easier in moist soil. Wild violets and wild onion can be managed to a tolerable level this way.  
  • Regular mowing can help reduce weeds that spread from seed. Mow dandelions when they are flowering to prevent them from going to seed.  
  • Pollinator decline is a serious issue and is causing people to increase plant diversity in their landscapes. Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens) is a high-quality forage plant for pollinators and other beneficial insects, particularly early in the season when not much else is blooming. It is okay for clover to be a part of your lawn.
  • Use herbicides as a last resort after cultural and mechanical practices have been used without success, and only for weeds that threaten to take over your lawn.
    • Familiarize yourself with common herbicide terms before selecting an herbicide.
    • Spot treat problem weeds with a ready-to-use (RTU) liquid herbicide instead of a concentrate to limit the amount of pesticide introduced into the environment and to eliminate the need for mixing. There is no need to treat the entire lawn!  
    • Weed and feed products are not recommended because they 1) are formulated to treat the entire yard, 2) are applied in spring (we recommend that most lawn fertilizer be applied in fall), and 3) can contribute to overfertilizing your lawn.
    • Always read and follow the label directions of any herbicide product you are using!
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