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11 ways to control weeds without chemicals

By: Networx Systems on Aug. 13, 2010, 11:07 a.m.
thick lawn close-up

Photo: Kitsada_Suksasilp/Shutterstock

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Crowd out weeds

The best defense is often a good offense. This means keeping the lawn thick and healthy to keep weeds from having any room to grow. You can also add groundcover plants and other thick plantings to crowd out weeds in decorative beds.

“Weeds are simply plants that take advantage of open areas with available resources,” said Robert Hartzler, an extension weed specialist and
professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. “The simplest way to control weeds is to eliminate the open niches that they take advantage of.”

Richard Zollinger of the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Science offers a simple two-prong strategy. “To minimize weed problems in my lawn as a home owner, I mow my lawn high and optimally fertilize to keep the lawn as competitive as possible,” he said.

Smith recommends reseeding lawns in the fall to prevent weed growth. Since many weeds are already dead late in the season, there is less competition for space as grass seeds try to take root. Smith also recommends strong, high-quality grass seed. Look for the highest germination and purity percentages available.