Horticulture News: Weeds seem inevitable in home lawns

By Kim Cowherd Published:

Home lawn problems are always one of the hot button questions that come to the Extension Office. Crabgrass, broadleaf weeds and patch diseases are always especially problematic for many homeowners in our Central Kentucky lawns.

Crabgrass is an annual grassy weed that will die out at the first frost. It seeds prolifically in July and has tremendous reproductive capabilities. It is best controlled by two applications of specific herbicides, timed in the early spring. During the summer months, these herbicides do little to control it.

Patch diseases and other diseases of turf have also been a problem this summer, because of high heat and high humidity. A patch disease will be small dead area in your lawn, sometimes with a greasy look, or a light, white, cottony substance on the leaf blade, seen in the morning. There are very few lawn fungicides available or recommended for homeowners to combat disease problems.

Broadleaf weeds are an issue in lawns that are usually not managed well. Knowing the specific weed and its habits are the key to good control methods. Also mowing too closely and spring or summer fertilization can cause these weeds to take over your lawn.

Crabgrass, broadleaf weeds and diseases are aggravated by several factors. Weeds gain ground with excess fertilization; poor timing of fertilizers; too much irrigation; irrigation applied incorrectly; and/or too low or too high mowing height. For diseases to take hold, planting grass species that is not resistant to disease is critical. Weather is also a large factor for lawn disease and one that we have no control over.


The best way to control crabgrass, broadleaf weeds, and lawn disease is to properly manage your lawn.

Fertilize only in the fall; water deeply and infrequently and only when absolutely necessary; mowing regularly and keeping the grass blade height between two and a half to three and a half inches tall; and choosing the right grass species that are appropriate for Central Kentucky lawns. Following these practices will be the best ways to keep your lawn looking healthy and green.

Fortunately, lawn renovation time is upon us. The end of August to mid-October is the prime time to seed, sod, or just start all over again.

There are several steps to lawn renovation.

These are: appropriate grass variety selection, eliminating weed competition, proper timing of the renovation, proper seedbed preparation, and using correct seed planting methods. When you put these practices in place, and use a good long-term lawn maintenance plan, your lawn can be the lush and green landscape of your dreams.

Want to learn more about getting your lawn in great shape and make your neighbors “green” with envy? Attend the Gardeners’ Toolbox session entitled “The Grass is Greener” on Thursday, Sept. 6, 5:30 p.m., at the Extension Office, 101 Lakeview Ct. Get turf tips and information on how to control moles, crabgrass, lawn moss and more. Also learn about good environmental practices to help you have a ‘greener’ and more Earth-friendly lawn. The class is free and open to everyone!

For more information regarding lawns, log on to: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/ukturf/HomeLawnCare.htm. For printed material, or questions about the class, contact Franklin County Extension at 502-695-9035 by phone or email Kim.Cowherd@uky.edu.

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