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Weed-free lawn: Expert tips for great grass

Caitlin McCormack
Shine On
April 19, 2012
weed-free lawn
weed-free lawn

Many homeowners take great pride in their lawns, after all, curb appeal is a main selling feature of most homes. The bane of many a green thumb enthusiast, weeds can keep your lawn from looking less than appealing.

For advice on keeping a weed-free lawn, we turned to gardening guru Peter Cantley, vice-president, floral and garden, Loblaw Companies Limited to get his expert tips. With more than 45 years of experience in the industry, Cantley's tips are sure to have your lawn looking great in no time.

1. Build and maintain thick grass roots

"Common weeds such as crab grass and dandelions generally root more often in weak or sparse lawns where seeds can reach the soil, have little root competition and are exposed to sunlight that can filter through the existing grass blades," explains Cantley.

This makes over-seeding in the spring and fall an essential step in order to keep grass cover thick. Be sure to use good quality topsoil and seed.

2. Physically remove weeds

"Not everyone can have a well established lawn to begin with," says Cantley. He says that if your lawn is a 'work in progress', and your weed problem is a minor one, the best thing to do is to physically remove them.

[See also: Homes inspired by nature]

3. Spot treat

If pulling weeds by hands isn't your style, Cantley recommends using a spot treatment product to kill any unwanted weed.

"Broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and clover can be removed using Scott's Weed B Gon® which contains iron as one of its active weed killing properties," he says. "This product does not use harmful chemicals and is widely available in a ready-to-use spray in various sizes depending on the size of the job."

Weeds will disappear approximately 7-10 days after application. The product may temporarily discolour your grass, but it will return to its normal colour in a short time.

4. Start over

Cantley says that if your property has been neglected for many years or if more than 75% of the area is filled with weeds, this may be the best approach.

Try to remove as many of the weeds from the area as you can, so you can 'start from scratch' with a blank canvas.

"You can speed this up by using a product containing acetic acid which will affect any live plant material that it is applied on," says Cantley. It may take two or three applications to be effective.

Once you've got your blank slate, cover with a healthy amount of a corn gluten-based weed/seed inhibitor. The barrier created by this product will stop any seed from germinating and accessing the soil says Cantley. At this point, you can re-sod your lawn.

"The corn gluten will keep unwanted weed seeds from developing into weeds," says Cantley.

5. Walkways, driveways, patios

Once you've got your lawn looking lush and green, shift focus to other areas of your property where weeds can lurk, such as between sidewalk stones and driveway cracks.

"There are tools, such as a weed scraper available that will scrape weeds out of cracks in driveways or sidewalks easily and with minimal effort," says Cantley.

For small individual weeds he offers a simple affordable and green solution: Boiling water. "Simply pour boiling hot water onto the weed to kill it outright."

If weeds are more widespread, he suggests using a product that contains acetic acid to destroy the weed completely. "When using commercial products for weed control, remember to always read and follow the directions on the label for the best results."

For more weed-removing techniques, check out the video below.

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