How do I get rid of weeds without using chemicals? My lawn is wall-to-wall dandelions and other flowering (but ugly) weeds with a little grass sprinkled between. I want to treat the lawn, but I REALLY don't want to do chemical treatments. I'm committed to an organic yard, and while I can find fertilizer and seed to do my grass organically, I don't know what to do about the weeds. Any ideas?
Pull them or dig them up! I guess it depends on what you mean by "chemical". There are there organic ways to kill weeds--boiling water can be effective in some cases. And for the ones that you can't get that way, try spraying them with vinegar on a nice sunny day (with both of these approaches it may be hard to avoid killing your grass along with the weeds though).
What are you planning to do with the area? I think your best idea if it's really wall to wall weeds like that would be to dig up the whole area, bring in some fresh topsoil, then put down sod, grass seed, plants, whatever you want and then stay on top of any few weeds that might come back. It may sound like a lot of work to do it this way, but honestly I think it'll be easier in the long run.
If the grass is thin that is the place to start. does it need de-thatching, aeration, better variety for your area? A denser turf usually deters most weeds.
then the few that do pop up you can use a weed sickle to get rid of them unless you have several acres.
I have some thin areas in my grass and boy do I get the dandelions there, but instead of renting a de-thatcher or aeriator, this fall I am just going to till it under,
put in some crocus, daffodils, tulips and bluegrass.
do you have a tiller? maybe rent one. then just put the seed in and water.
I tilled some strips in my lawn about a month or so ago in anticipation of some roses I had ordered. I just planted them last week. but it's amazing how quick and healthy that grass grows back in the tilled area. looks better than the rest of the lawn.
of couse when you till you open up the soil also for weeds to invade, that's why I would plant something quick and heavy to crowd out the weed seed.
You might want to try corn meal gluten to prevent new dandylions from sprouting. But you will still have to dig the current ones. You may want to review your lawn care. If the watering and fertilizing is not good enough for the grass, weeds get the green light. For the non-lawn areas, consider heavy mulching with shreded leaves or fine pine bark.
Your lawn sounds like mine a few years ago. I applied corn gluten a couple of springs ago.
I also added lime (we have acidic soil here. You'd want to check your Ph level first before doing this.
I hand pull dandelions when I have some spare time. I use a mulching mower.
Its not exactly a perfect weed-free lawn but small measures each year have added up to a real
It's not a quick fix, but you need to change your whole approach to lawn care. Many good ideas above, but a pre-emergent like corn gluten meal alone won't take care of the problem.
First, raise your mower blade to the highest level. Mowing lawns high is among the best ways to promote growth of grass instead of weeds.
Second, do a soil test. My guess is that you might be missing some nutrients or the ph may be off. So maybe you need to lime. More than likely you'll need to increase the organic material in your soil. Consider spreading compost this fall in conjunction with aerating and overseeding. One warning on the soil test. Your lawn will not need as much nitrogen as extension or other services might suggest. If you need some nitrogen, look for a slow release fertilizer like blood meal or similar.
Next spring -- after the new grass seed has sprouted -- apply a preemergent like corn gluten meal to deter germination of annual weeds.
If you do this, over the next season or two you lawn will improve dramatically.
We also keep grass seed handy at all times. Pull out a dandelion or thistle, replace spot with grass seed. Same goes for any "hole" created by a dog, bunny, chicken, etc. It makes a difference to have that grass competing there, and it doesn't only germinate in the fall.
I've been following Mary and Zeppy's tips above for the past few years and am generally satisfied with my turf. I rent a core aerator Spring and Fall and following aeration I top dress with organic matter, amend the soil as needed (lime for my acidic clay), and spread with grass seed. I also use corn gluten as a pre-emergent in the form of Cockadoodledoo lawn care products. I'll probably start purchasing generic corn gluten, etc. from my farm supply shop as the name brand stuff is rather spendy. Keeping grass seed on hand and throwing out handfuls over thin areas has been a huge help, especially where my Great Dane leaves her "crop circles" in the lawn thanks to her giant bladder.
LOL... Listen, if my husband had urinary incontinence and Addison's disease as my dog does, I'd have kicked him to the curb shortly after he was diagnosed. The puppy, on-the-other-hand, has been living this lifestyle with us for eight years...