By: Anne Baley
Common reed grass has been used throughout history for thatched roofs, cattle feed, and numerous other creative uses. Today, however, it mostly appears as a simple invasive species that takes over fields, open grasslands and, in some places, even yards. While a small patch of reeds may be an attractive addition to the landscaping design, they spread so quickly that they’ll take over the entire lawn if you don’t take steps to kill them off. Keep reading for tips on controlling reed grass.
If you have a small patch of reeds and want to take care of them before they take over the entire lawn, physical methods for common reed grass control might be your best option. Start by using an electric hedge trimmer to cut down the reeds below their bottommost leaf, leaving only the stem stubble left standing. Remove the cut reeds and cut them up to put in the compost pile.
Cover the reed patch with a large sheet of clear plastic sheeting. Hold down the edges of the plastic with large rocks or bricks, or simply bury the edges in the ground. This process is known as solar sterilization. The heat from the sun will accumulate underneath the plastic, and kill off any plants below the surface. Leave the plastic sheet through the fall and winter and only remove it the next spring. If any small reed shoots remain sprouting in the spring, you can easily pull them by hand.
If you have a larger patch of reeds and want to use chemical methods to get rid of them, the most common herbicide used is glysophate. Mix a solution according to the package directions and pour it into a sprayer. Only spray this herbicide on a dead calm day; any breeze can blow the chemicals onto surrounding plants and kill them off. Wear protective clothing, face mask, and goggles. Spray the top part of the plants and allow the liquid to run down the stalks. The plants will die back in a week or two. Cut off the dead tops in two weeks and repeat the process to kill off the remaining parts of the plant.
Now that you know how to kill reeds, you can keep them from taking over the lawn or surrounding landscape.
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Even the best-tended lawns come under attack from common weeds. Weed seeds float in on the wind, creeping weeds claim more territory, and weeds you thought you pulled quietly continue to grow. How well your lawn copes with the onslaught depends on the weeds involved, the response you choose and your lawn’s overall health. Understanding common lawn weeds and the options available to fight them can help you successfully combat the invasion.
To help simplify weed defense, we’ve charted 10 common lawn weeds, including their characteristics, type and how they spread, and most importantly- how to eliminate them. Weeds, like ornamental garden plants, can be annuals or perennials. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season, and then die, leaving seeds behind to continue the legacy. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, come back year after year from their roots, and distribute new seeds to boot. Weeds can also be grass-like, broadleaf or sedge. Choosing the right weed control product requires understanding the weed you want to fight and its stage of growth. Pre-emergent weed controls, sometime called preventers, work to keep weed seeds from germinating and developing. Post-emergent weed controls fight weeds that have already germinated and emerged from the soil.
Finding the most effective recipes for killing weeds also depends on the type of plant you’re eliminating. Here is a collection of some of the more common varieties of unwanted grass and other weeds that invade lawns.
While some weed control methods wipe out every type of vegetation in their path, a broadleaf herbicide targets only those weeds with broad leaves, like dandelions, which leaves your grass virtually unharmed.
Some methods also work better on annuals than they do on perennials. Before you begin your lawn care process, know which weed you plan to control.
Using pure vinegar is one of the best ways to eliminate weeds of all kinds. Not very particular about the target it chooses to remove, vinegar dries out the plant and stops it from distributing much-needed hydration throughout the rest of the plant.
For best results, use a type of vinegar with a higher concentration of acetic acids, such as cider vinegar or horticultural vinegar. However, white vinegar is often still just as useful for killing clover in grass or some other type of unwanted vegetation. In any case, your local grocery store carries all three.
This homemade weed killer works on the plant, but does vinegar kill grass roots, as well? Even though vinegar works best when applied to the tops of the weeds, it is not always as successful at root killing.
Typically, vinegar kills the plants from the top down to make it easier for the gardener to extract the plant. However, multiple applications of vinegar withhold enough moisture and nutrients from the plant that it eventually kills the roots as well. It only requires a little bit of time and patience to completely get rid of weeds for good.
Though a higher concentration of vinegar typically kills weeds after a couple of applications, there are other ingredients you can add to make the solution even more successful. Some plants don’t automatically soak up the vinegar, making it difficult for them to absorb the harmful spray.
Using dishwashing soap is the perfect way to break up the surface tension and allows the vinegar to stick to the plants. For best results, use this spray on a sunny day to dry up weeds even faster.
For killing weeds in gravel driveway or anywhere else they shouldn’t be, mix the ingredients in a large bucket, and transfer part of it to a spray bottle for more accessible application. Spray the plant, soaking the leaves and soil surrounding it.
When selecting the right type of salt, make sure that you use table salt or rock salt instead of Epsom salt. Epsom salts provide nutrients to the weed, allowing it to increase even faster than before rather than drying it out.
For how to get rid of nutgrass and other weeds permanently using this formula, spray the area at least once a week until the plants are completely gone. Repeat applications are usually necessary to reach the roots. Add grass seed to the bare area or create a new garden spot where the weeds once were.
One major contributor to weed control is lawn care. Lawns that are healthier develop deep root systems and are better equipped to handle weeds on their own. What constitutes a healthy lawn, and how can you use this information to remove weeds permanently from your yard?
Despite popular belief that a shorter yard is healthier, it’s essential to let your lawn grow in just above three inches, which is just enough length for the grass to soak in more sunlight and develop more extensive, healthier root systems. With one simple adjustment to your mower, you’re already on the fast track to improving growing conditions.
Mowing your lawn regularly is also an excellent weeding tool, as trimming the tops of many common weeds weakens the plant over time.Another critical factor to consider when handling weeds is to aerate the soil. Do not do this while you still have weeds, since this spreads the weed seeds to other parts of the lawn.
However, this is an incredible preventative measure to take when improving the soil conditions by providing better airflow and more nutrients. A similar process also aids in duckweed removal in ponds by perforating the top of the water to prevent water from becoming stagnant.
Another effective method for how to kill weeds is by using a store-bought chemical spray. Depending on the type of weed problem you have, consider a selective weed killer to prevent killing other vegetation surrounding the weed.
While most weed killers like Roundup contain glyphosate, a non-selective chemical compound that kills both broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds alike, these sprays also kill any other plant it touches. This means your priceless flower beds suffer if caught in the crosshairs.
However, if you have broadleaf weeds like dandelions, then a selective sprayer kills only the garden weeds without killing your grass.On the opposite side of the spectrum, other weed killer brands like Ortho Grass B Gone Garden Grass Killer work in flower beds to safely kill unwanted grass without harming the flowers themselves.
Most chemical control brands feature a sprayer and need diluting before using. This design allows you to cover a large area quickly without buying a ton of products, which is helpful in more extensive weed infestations.
When looking at chemical-free alternatives to how to kill grass and other invasive weeds, solarization is a long-term process that removes weeds from your yard permanently. Successful at controlling bacteria, weeds, and even common pests, solarization includes covering the earth with a plastic tarp to trap the sun’s energy underneath and to heat the soil.
This strategy usually works best with a transparent tarp cover made from polyethylene, rather than white or black plastic. To use this method, clear away any of the plants and debris in the area, then water the soil until it is thoroughly saturated.
For a natural way to get rid of crabgrass, dandelions, or other pesky weeds, cover the space with your clear plastic tarp, then bury the edges deep into the ground to trap in the heat. If necessary, weigh down the edges to ensure that the area is completely covered.
Leave the cover in place for at least four weeks during the hottest time of the year. After four weeks, the soil is ready for planting other vegetation in it again.
If you’re still looking for that wonderful, natural weed killer, then baking soda is your next best bet. Similar to how vinegar works, baking soda absorbs all the moisture out of the plant when applied to it, leaving it dry and unable to regulate its moisture content. Only a teaspoon of baking soda is necessary for each plant you want to eliminate.
For one of the best remedies for killing weeds and grass where they shouldn’t be growing, start by wetting the soil so that it is moist but not overwatered. Next, sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda over the top of the entire weed, including the leaves and the soil surrounding the base.
Leave it for the plant to absorb, then reapply in approximately one month if you still notice weeds growing. It’s important to realize that this method is not as successful with controlling weeds in areas with high salt content in their soils already, such as with plant life near the beach, but it does work well on average soil.
Absolutely! If you’ve run out of all the other options to kill weeds, then bleach destroys any piece of vegetation it touches. This DIY grass killer recipe also kills any plants you don’t want to part with, so only use it in areas where there are no other plants around. Wear protective clothing and gloves when handling bleach.
A well-tended lawn can go to seed in a hurry if you let it, which is why regular treatment for weeds is essential. But what can you do if you wish to kill off large swaths of weeds and grass safely?
Weeding often triggers the release of weed seeds and spreads the problem further. You can remove the grass with a sod cutter, but that can leave viable seeds behind.
Before you reach for a DIY herbicide, consider adjusting the heat or sunlight on the lawn. Changes to a grassy weed’s environment can kill it off without requiring any further treatment.
If you have moss growing throughout the yard where it shouldn’t be, the best way to get rid of moss is by taking better care of your lawn. Pull up the unwanted moss and add grass seed to the bare spots. Water and fertilize your yard, and mow appropriately to ensure that moss does not grow back.
Of course, you can always use a chemical herbicide to get rid of unwanted grass and weeds. Will bleach kill grass and weeds like dandelions? Yes, household chemicals like bleach do kill undesirable vegetation but many people prefer using non-chemical means that are more environmentally friendly.
Last Updated: January 20, 2021 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
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Vinegar contains acetic acid and is an effective, and natural, weed killer. It is favored by many gardeners because it has less harmful effects that herbicides. You can use a pump sprayer to spray vinegar directly onto any weeds, carefully avoiding the plants you want to keep. For tougher weeds, you can buy stronger horticultural vinegar, add some dish soap, or add salt to your vinegar before you spray your weeds.