You have your lawn looking great. You have taken the time to fertilize it correctly but now find another problem. Or problems.
Weeds. And pests.
We will look today at what you can do to combat this twin assault on your pride and joy.
1. Weeds On Lawns
1.1 The All-Out Assault
One great way to get rid of weeds is to purchase some lawn sand. You can pick this up easily from any garden center and it does a fantastic job of dispatching weeds.
You can also mix up your own version at home without too much trouble. You'll need the following:
- Ammonium sulphate (2 lbs)
- Iron sulphate (1 lb)
- Sand or fine soil (7 lbs)
Mix this up well together then scatter it over your lawn on a dry evening. The first thing you will notice is that the lawn will turn rather black. Don't panic! In a very short time, the grass will grow back and grow back far more rapidly than the weeds.
If you notice any particularly large weeds, it's wise to remove them by hand.
Fertilizing, cutting and rolling all help to repel weeds as well. Your maintenance routine is crucial.
1.2 Spot Treatment
Often, hitting the entire lawn hard is not the best option. Tackling weeds individually has its place so we will examine here some highly effective spot treatments.
Take a teaspoon of lawn sand and drop it onto weeds to watch them disappear like magic without temporarily disfiguring your lawn. Again, avoid doing this when it's raining or damp.
Some weeds such as plantains or dandelions are specially tough to eradicate. You can buy liquid weed killers partnered with an ejector system to destroy such stubborn intruders.
Advice by the Board of Greenkeeping Research says that the improvement of lawns happens when weeds are eradicated and fine grasses (like Agrostis and Festuca) are retained.
1.3 Fight Back Now
Do you have any of the following weeds?
- Bird's Foot Trefoil
- Field Speedwell
- Creeping Buttercup
- Pearlwort and Ribwort
If so then wait for a spell of fine weather. The success of the following treatment depends on a nice day. If you get caught out with rain after the application, fully half the potency of the chemicals will be lost.
Mix up these ingredients:
- 3 parts ammonium sulphate
- 1 part calcined iron sulphate
- 20 parts sand
Disseminate the mixture over your lawn and say farewell to the above weeds.
The number of applications required will depend on the state of weediness of the lawn but the treatment should be continued at roughly fortnightly intervals.
When the weeds have disappeared, the sand in the mixture should be replaced by compost.
Another menacing group of weeds are tap-rooted weeds. Broad-leaved plantain, dandelion and cat's ear are examples of this variety.
The good news is that you can kick them aside without too much fuss.
Get yourself these ingredients:
- 35 parts ammonium sulphate
- 15 parts calcined iron sulphate
- 50 parts sand
Mix them all up thoroughly. Apply a pinch of it to the crown of these weeds during fine weather.
Go for a follow-up application after about ten days and the weeds should be history.
Be aware that initially the lawn may be left with rather ugly black scars. This is no cause for concern. Before too long, the bare areas will be filled again with grasses.
There is another method which is also highly effective when it comes to tap-rooted weeds.
Go for an even mix of 50 parts ammonium sulphate to 50 parts sand.
Although this undeniably works, it's the inclusion of iron sulphate in the previous mixture which accelrates the destruction of the weeds and also counteracts any chlorotic appearance that might accompany the use of ammonium sulphate only.
If you spot bare patches in the aftermath of treating weeds, they can be renovated with a seeds mixture. You should, however, take extreme caution not to attempt this until the chemicals have been washed away since they are harmful to young seedlings.
If your lawn sits on heavy clay soil it can be considerably improved in texture by a heavy dressing of charcoal which will also prevent worms.
And thinking of worms, we will now look at lawn pests and how to get rid of them.
2. Lawn Pests
Aside from weeds, lawn pests are also a blight to the keen gardener. We will take a brief look here at worms, moles and ants.
The common earthworm, though it does not actually destroy grass, is nevertheless widely regarded as a pest.
Worms cover the surface of lawns with worm casts which can smother fine grasses and are unsightly.
If you water the surface of your turf with lime as well as water, the pests will be brought upwards in high numbers. You can then simply sweep them off to some other part of the garden where they will cause no problems.
The end of August to the beginning of December then again between the end of March and the end of May are typical breeding seasons for the earthworm. Take action at these times and humanely relocate them.
Nobody wants their lawn to be ransacked by moles so it resembles this pot-holed picture.
Moles can be captured using special traps but gassing them is generally more effective.
If you drop pieces of calcium carbide into their runs, you'll rapidly exterminate the moles. It may not seem kind but neither is their disrespect for your garden.
For those who do not want to take such direct action, try soaking rags with creosote then dropping them down the holes. The moles will be repelled by the strong smell and flee.
There are numerous methods for destroying ants.
If you have a small lawn, the simplest plan of attack is to invert a flower pot over the spot where the ants are most problematic. In short order the ants build their nests up into the pot then you can remove them wholesale.
We hope you have enjoyed these basic tips on lawn care.
Bid adieu to weeds and pests and bask in a lawn in tip-top condition!