Broadleaf weeds are a common enemy for homeowners and gardeners alike. These pesky and unsightly plants can quickly take over an area and deplete the nutrients in the soil, making it difficult to grow grass, flowers, or anything else. If you’re dealing with an invasion of broadleaf weeds, read on! We have plenty of information here to help you get rid of them once and for all!
What Are Broadleaf Weeds?
Before we talk about how to prevent broadleaf weeds, let’s first discuss what they are. Broadleaf weeds are invasive plants that sprout up in lawns, gardens, and even sidewalk cracks! These types of weeds differ from grassy weeds, such as crabgrass or annual bluegrass, because they have wide leaves (hence the name) that are easily distinguishable. They often appear in clusters, and they frequently develop delicate flowers and seedheads that are always the easiest indicators of broadleaf weeds. See the list below for some of the most common characteristics of broadleaf weeds (dandelions, chickweed, broadleaf plantain, etc.):
- Broad, flat leaves
- Clusters of plants that look similar in shape and size
- Delicate flowers/seedheads (on certain weeds)
- Net-like veins on leaves
- Taller than the surrounding grass
What Causes Broadleaf Weeds To Appear?
Unfortunately, a variety of factors can cause broadleaf weeds to appear in your lawn and garden. Many weeds seek out lawns that are already struggling to grow, so neglecting lawn care needs is a sure way to attract weeds to your yard.
Broadleaf weeds are resilient and can spring up almost anywhere, but there are some factors that increase the likelihood of their growth. These include soil compaction, poor drainage, too much shade or sun, high nitrogen levels in the soil, and over-fertilizing. Poor soil fertility is one of the most common causes, as it reduces the ability for grass or other desirable plants to compete with the weeds for resources.
- DID YOU KNOW? Weeds compete with your lawn and plants for the same nutrients. That’s why weeds in the lawn are not just unattractive; they actually deplete nutrients that your grass desperately needs. Ignoring weed control in your yard will always result in a thin, unhealthy lawn.
Preventing Broadleaf Weeds
When it comes to weed control, prevention is always better than curative treatment. This is especially true of broadleaf weeds because many of them produce thousands of seeds that can quickly grow into new, harmful weeds. Preventing weed growth before it starts means minimizing seed distribution, which means fewer weeds will emerge in the future.
Pre-emergent herbicide is the best way to prevent broadleaf weeds in your lawn. Pre-emergent provides a protective barrier across the surface of the soil in your lawn and/or garden. Though this barrier does not directly kill seedlings in the soil, it does block them from popping up, which prevents them from maturing and spreading the invasion. Consider the following lawn care tips to use in addition to pre-emergent weed control:
- Mow At The Right Height – Mowing too short can encourage the growth of broadleaf weeds, while mowing at the right height can help keep them at bay. It’s best to mow your lawn at 2-3 inches, which is the optimal length for most grasses.
- Use Mulch – A thick layer of mulch around plants and shrubs in your garden will help prevent weed seeds from germinating in the soil. This is especially effective when used around larger plants that are more prone to weed invasion.
- Fertilize & Amend The Soil – Too much or not enough nitrogen in your lawn can contribute to weed growth, as can a low pH. To prevent this, test your soil to determine if you should add nitrogen fertilizer, lime, or other substances that improve soil quality.
- Water Deeply & Infrequently – Overwatering your lawn can create the perfect conditions for weeds to grow. Water deeply and infrequently to ensure that moisture reaches the roots of your grass instead of feeding weed growth.
- Aerate & Seed – Core aeration helps to break up compacted soil and bring nutrients, air, and water back into the root zone for a thicker and healthier lawn. Seeding after aeration is always a good idea, as this will make your lawn even thicker and ready to take on weeds.
Removing Broadleaf Weeds
Despite your best efforts to prevent all weeds from emerging, weeds are inevitable… but don’t panic! Though broadleaf weed control will get a bit more difficult once weeds begin emerging, there is still hope. Annual broadleaf weeds are easier to pull because they do not have enough time to develop more complex root systems, and many often have a single taproot that can be entirely removed if pulled correctly.
- LEAVE NO ROOTS BEHIND! Remember to start pulling taproot about an inch or two below soil surface in order to get all of it and not resprout any new plants. Pull straight up while applying consistent, firm force. Leaving even the smallest bit of root material behind could erase all your hard work. Use a gardening spade or other tools to make sure you fully remove the roots.
If you have a large area to treat then spot treating with an approved herbicide may be the best option. When using any form of chemical treatment for weeds, be sure to read and follow all directions on the label. Non-selective herbicides will kill everything in their path, including the grass in your lawn, so it is best to find a selective weed killer to apply directly to the weed. Call your local lawn care provider for more information on weed control near you.