Having a perfectly green and weed free lawn is close to an obsession in the United States. For many years, chemical treatments have been largely considered to be acceptable. Recently, there has been more focus on green methods and protecting the environment. As a result, more people are looking for organic ways to control weeds in their gardens.
Maintain a Healthy Lawn
This first principle in preventing weeds in your yard is to keep the lawn healthy. You need healthy soil in order to have a healthier lawn. Take a soil sample to your local extension office to find out what your lawn may need. Fertilize with non-synthetic organic products that can be found in the garden center, online, or through mail order. Lawns should be fertilized twice a year, once in spring and once in the fall.
Overseed the lawn in order to crowd out weeds. The closer grass blades grow together, the less room there is for weeds. It is also better to mow the lawn regularly, but to only cut off one third of the blades, and to leave the clippings on the lawn. Clippings break down into the lawn to further feed it, and keeping lawn a bit longer allows it to shade the ground, preventing weed seeds from germinating.
Watering the lawn appropriately is also important. Make sure that you plant grass that is meant for your climate. This will cut down on the watering that needs to be done. In climates where it rains regularly, supplemental watering is not necessary. In dry regions, plant grass that is drought tolerant, and only water as needed.
Eliminate Weed Sources
There are a couple of ways to eliminate weeds before they occur by removing the sources of the weeds. You need to determine what is important to you regarding bird feeders as they are a big source of weeds in the lawn. Thistle and millet seed feeders are particularly good at causing a weed problem in your yard. Many birdseed mixes contain millet, and birds sometimes do not like it and will pitch it onto the ground where weeds will germinate and cause problems.
Another way to eliminate weeds at the source is to take care of weeds before they go to seed. As kids, we enjoyed blowing seeds off of spent dandelions, but this is not a good thing in a lawn that you want to keep weed free. It can be difficult to keep up with removing dandelions, but digging them up is the best way to ensure that more will not appear.
If you can keep your lawn healthy and relatively weed free, then hand weeding will not seem like such a daunting task. Keep up with the weeds on a regular basis, and there will be less to do at one time. There are tools that can help with hand weeding such as a forked handheld tool that you dig into the ground and digs up weed root and all. You can also buy a long handled weed popper that you push down into the soil. It grabs the weed and pulls it out when you lift the tool. Use a bit of water or weed after the rain so that the weed is easier to remove.
Organic Herbicide and Pre-emergent
There are a few name brand choices for organic herbicide. They are based on natural botanical pyrethins or citrus oils. You can find such products at your local garden center, online or in a mail order catalog. An inexpensive homemade weed control is to use a spray bottle of vinegar on each weed. As a result, the weeds will wither and die. A pre-emergent is a product that is spread on lawns in the spring in order to prevent weeds from germinating. Natural corn gluten meal is a good organic choice for this technique. It does not harm grass while keeping weeds down.