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How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds

Almost every homeowner despises weeds growing on their lawn, and most people have to battle with dandelions, crabgrass, and other pesky weeds every year. The majority of property owners long for lush green grass that isn’t patchy, so knowing how to get rid of weeds and prevent them all together is crucial for maintaining a yard that your neighbors envy. Our how-to guide will aid in the restoration of your weed-ridden property to the beautiful green lawn most homeowners dream about.

Pulling every dandelion stem and clover bud sounds dreadful, and the pesky weeds will likely return if you didn’t get every root. Although there are many DIY methods for getting rid of weeds and preventing regrowth,  you might want to hire a professional for the best and fastest results. TruGreen is one of the best lawn care companies for the job, providing affordable plans for beautifying your yard with proven, guaranteed weed control results.

11 Simple Steps to Restoring a Lawn Full of Weeds

Getting rid of weeds on your lawn and keeping them away isn’t rocket science, but knowing the specific steps to take can prevent wasted time and money in the process. Below are 11 straightforward steps to overcoming your weed problems.

1. Identify the Type of Weeds in Your Lawn

Your first step in conquering weeds in your lawn is to identify which ones have taken root. There are three primary types, each calling for a slightly different approach in some cases. Below are the standard subcategories of lawn weeds.

Broadleaf Weeds

As the name suggests, broadleaf weeds have wide leaves. They usually grow in soil that has been deprived of nutrients. Common lawn weeds include dandelions, clover, oxalis, ground ivy, chickweed, henbit, thistle, and dollarweed.

Grassy Weeds

Grassy weeds are more challenging to distinguish from the grass blades around them because they look like grass. These weeds are most common in over-watered lawns and where soil compaction occurs. Some species of grassy weeds include crabgrass, foxtail, quackgrass, and goosegrass.

Grass-Like Weeds

Grass-like weeds also look like grass from a distance, but up close, you’ll notice that each leaf is tubular. These weeds thrive where the grass is cut too short, the soil is compacted, or overwatering is common. Some grass-like weeds include wild onion, garlic, nutsedge, and nutgrass.

2. Clean and Mow

Your next step will be to clean up your property. If you have a few broadleaf weeds, you can remove them by hand as long as you make sure to get the root as well. Total manual removal will likely be too time-consuming if you have grassy or grass-like weeds.

Once you’ve removed as many weeds as possible, you can mow your lawn to about three inches to prepare for the herbicide application.

3. Select the Best Herbicide for the Job

Now you’re ready to choose a weed killer, and the weeds you identified in step one should inform your decision. If you had the foresight to recognize the weeds that gave you trouble last year, you could apply a pre-emergent herbicide before they come up this year. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed seeds from taking root so that you can avoid them altogether. Best of all, they won’t kill grass that is already established.

You’ll need a post-emergent herbicide if weeds have already taken root in your lawn. Many of these products — all non-selective herbicides — also kill healthy grass, so be careful in your selection. A selective weed killer designed to kill the weeds you have an issue with is more likely to be safe to use on your lawn and even in garden beds.

4. Apply the Weed Control

You’re finally ready to apply the herbicide, but you’ll want to make sure you do so correctly. Timing is everything when it comes to successful weed control. First, avoid applying it under the intense sun, as this combination can burn your grass. Avoid using it if it’s supposed to rain in the following 24 to 48 hours, as the precipitation can wash away the active chemicals before it has a chance to work.

If you get a liquid weed killer, you can use a garden sprayer to apply it. Follow the container’s dilution instructions and get an even application over all critical areas. If you have a granular weed killer, apply it to large areas with a broadcast spreader or too tight spaces by hand or with a drop spreader.

5. Be Patient

Most weed killers — especially natural and organic herbicides — take time to take effect. You should expect to wait at least a week before seeing results, and some products can take up to four weeks before you start to notice fewer weeds in your lawn. Take note of the timeline indicated on your product’s packaging, and be prepared to wait a bit.

Additionally, some homeowners make the mistake of putting down grass seed shortly after applying herbicide. A pre-emergent herbicide will prevent new weeds from sprouting and stop grass seed from germinating, so you’ll waste time and money on the seed. Plan to wait at least four weeks between applying preventative weed control and seeding.

6. Rake and Till Your Soil

Once you notice the weeds in your lawn start to turn brown, use a rake to remove as many as possible and till the soil in any bare spots in preparation for seeding.

7. Dethatch and Aerate Your Lawn

You might need to dethatch and aerate the soil for treated areas that still have healthy grass. Begin by using a rake or specialized dethatching rake to remove the thatch — dead grass roots, grass clippings, mulch, leaves, etc. — between your soil and your grass.

Once dethatch your lawn, use an aerator or hire a professional lawn care company to aerate the soil to reduce compaction. This process will allow new grass and established grass to get nutrients and water from the soil.

8. Apply Soil Amendment

Completing a soil test will show you if your soil pH is suitable for growing grass. If not, apply your soil amendment according to the product instructions.

9. Plant Seeds or Lay Down Sod

Once your soil is prepped, you can use a garden spreader to lay down grass seed or lay sod instead. Traditional seeding is far more affordable but takes up to 12 weeks with some grass species to yield a full, beautiful lawn. Laying down sod provides an instant new lawn, but the cost can be about four times as much or more. Both seeding and sod require intensive maintenance afterward. Regardless of which method you use, complete this step in the correct growing season for your species.

Pros Cons
Grass Seed
  • Wide variety of seeds, mixtures, and brands
  • More affordable
  • Take longer to grow due to germination
Sod
  • Instant grass
  • Can be laid any time of the year
  • Costly
  • Less grass variety

10. Water Your Lawn

Whether you’ve seeded or laid down sod, you need to keep your soil moist — but not soggy. Use a sprinkler to water each area three to four times a day for 10 minutes each.

11. Maintain Your Lawn

Once your lawn is fully established, you need to maintain it to keep it weed-free in the future. Weeds thrive in compacted or nutrient-deprived soil and in grass that is overwatered or cut too short. It would be best to aerate at least once a year to reduce soil compaction, fertilize regularly to maintain the proper nutrient balance for a healthy lawn, complete infrequent, deep waterings, and mow your lawn at the highest mower setting to avoid weeds from returning. Year-round care is essential to keep your property looking green and healthy.

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Reasons Why Your Lawn is Full of Weeds

Many homeowners assume that weeds in their lawns are inevitable, but certain things welcome them. We’ll discuss these below and how to avoid these issues on your property.

Low Mowing

Weeds can’t thrive where healthy grass competes for resources. Keeping your lawn at least three inches tall can help reduce the likelihood of weeds taking over.

Compacted Soil

Grass can’t absorb sufficient nutrients and water from compacted soil, but weeds can. Aerating your lawn once a year will help reduce compaction and make it challenging for weeds to thrive.

Not Enough Water

Insufficient water will stress your grass, leaving the minimal competition for weeds. Water deeply and infrequently will create the ideal environment for your grass to keep weeds at bay.

Professional Lawn Care Services

Some homeowners are happy doing DIY lawn care, but many prefer to hand the reins to a professional. Lawn care services always cost more than doing the work yourself, but they often yield better and faster results and, in the best-case scenarios, come with a satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re looking for the best full-service lawn company to handle fertilization for your property, we recommend TruGreen. This company has a wealth of plans and add-on services to provide customization options, affordable prices, a nationwide coverage area, and guarantees your satisfaction with its work.

Pros and Cons of Lawn Fertilizer Services 

Pros Cons
Better chance of success More expensive than DIY
Higher-quality products available Often not pet-safe
Applications based on soil tests
It saves you time and frustration

Our Recommendation

You might feel helpless if your lawn is full of weeds, but with the right strategy, you can get rid of them and restore that deep green, lush lawn most people only dream about. Following the steps above can take your property from weedy and patchy to the envy of the neighborhood with just a few weeks, some effort, and consistency.

Many homeowners prefer to hire a professional lawn care company to handle weed control, fertilization, seeding, and other services. TruGreen has many lawn care services available so that you can customize them based on your needs. It’s affordable, far less challenging than DIY work, and the company provides a satisfaction guarantee. Check out TruGreen’s plans today to find the one that suits you best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is weed killer safe?

Some natural weed killers are safe for use around pets and children and aren’t dangerous for the environment. However, many products are toxic and can damage your lawn if misused.

How do I prevent weeds?

Weeds thrive in compacted soil, grasses cut too short, overwatered lawns, and nutrient-deprived soil. To avoid weeds, the best combination of things includes aerating your lawn annually, mowing to a minimum height of three inches, watering deeply and infrequently, and fertilizing as needed to maintain proper nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels.

What weed killer should I buy?

If you’re looking to prevent weeds that have yet to appear, a pre-emergent herbicide is best and won’t kill established grass. If you need to kill weeds that have already taken root, a selective herbicide is better. Just make sure to get one that will kill the specific weeds you’re experiencing and not the type of grass you have.

House Method Rating & Methodology

At House Method, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. That’s why we took the time to create an objective rating system and score each lawn company/service according to our methodology.

Our research team dug deep into the fine print of contracts, combed through over one hundred customer reviews, and thoroughly investigated each lawn care service’s costs, benefits, customer reviews, guarantees, plans, products, and a-la-carte options. We’ve done the homework for you by researching nearly all of the lawn care companies on the market so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home.

We developed a formula to objectively determine the best lawn care companies and give each a score out of 100 based on the following criteria:

  • Plan Options (30): Do they provide various plan options? We looked at the number of plans each company offered and the flexibility of adjusting the plan.
  • Services offered (20): How many services come in each plan? We looked at the number of lawn care coverages, including weed control, seeding, irrigation, aeration, dethatching, etc.
  • Trust (10): What do customers say after receiving service from the company? Does this company offer a guarantee? We considered how satisfied customers are post-service if the company does what it says it will, BBB accreditation, and service guarantees.
  • Prices (10): How reasonable are the costs of the plan or service in comparison to the industry average? We compared the costs of each company to competitors that offer the same lawn services.
  • Unique perks (10): Does the company offer discounts or special services such as organic treatments, pest control, or a mobile app? We looked for extras each company offers that set them apart from the competition.
  • Customer Service (10): How is the customer experience when contacting the company? We considered the speed of response, weekend/holiday availability, and ease of communication through phone calls, email, and online chat functions.
  • Nationwide availability (10): How many states does the company offer its services? Companies that operate nationally and in all zip codes are favored over those with limited availability.

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