How to Clear an Overgrown Lawn

How to Clear an Overgrown Lawn

Most Effective Products

Supreme IT Insecticide
Suspended Concentrate
As low as $54.99
Triclopyr 4 Brush Killer
Emulsifiable Concentrate (EC)
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Barricade Granular Pre-emergent Herbicide
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MSM Turf Herbicide (Manor)
Water Dispersible Granule (WDG)
As low as $15.29
Solutions 15-5-10 Weed & Feed Fertilizer with Trimec
As low as $54.99
Keith's Pro Tips

"Wait until watered lawns are completely dry before mowing. Mowing a wet lawn can damage the turfgrass with additional stress and possibly your mower."

How to Clear an Overgrown Lawn

This page is a general DIY guide to help mow and clean up your homes overgrown yard. Using these basic lawn care tips and professional products listed throughout this article can help reclaim your lawns health and height.

In what seems like no time at all, turfgrass can quickly overtake your yard with little rain, sunshine, and mowing. This results in grass that has grown past your knees, which can be difficult to mow, and if left untreated can create a suitable environment for a variety of pests from rats to snakes, and weeds. All of which affect the health and appearance of your lawn, resulting in a longer yard care program.

When the bushes have grown out of control, grass reaches a tall height, and weeds are found across your yard its hard to know where and when to begin. However, there is never a right time and the longer your grass remains tall the worse the infestation will become. By following the methods and products listed in this DIY guide, you will clear tall grass and leave behind a healthy, controllable lawn without adding additional damages to it and your equipment being used.

Clean Up Yard Debris

Raking Lawn

The first thing you should do is clear up your yard of fallen sticks and leaves, rocks, fallen trees, broken pottery, garden décor, and other debris. Clean-up of leaves and other fallen plant debris should be done in both the spring and fall in order to allow for necessary sunlight, nutrients, and water to reach your lawn.

Rake fallen plant debris into a pile then place into a disposable bag that can be sealed. Discarded debris should be properly disposed of, and placed in a outdoor trash can stored several feet away from your homes foundation.

Any debris left on your lawn can host habitats for pests, conditions for weeds to thrive such as moisture, and hamper the blade of your mower or weed trimmer.

Mark any objects too large to be moved to avoid running them over with your mower.

Trim the Lawn

Trimming The Grass

Before mowing your overgrown lawn, its best to shorten the turf blades first with a weed trimmer, hand-held scythe, or sickle. Trying to use a regular lawn mower over this tall grass height can prevent the blades from spinning, cause engine overheating, and health of turfgrass.

Trim grass blades until they are about half of their original height, which should leave the turf at 6 to 8 inches high. The goal to trimming is to give the turf the ability to support its own weight. When you are done trimming, remember to rake and place all grass clippings in a sealable plastic bag.

Depending on how overgrown the lawn is may require a second trimming when a week has passed from first trimming.

Give your lawn enough time to recover by allowing a week to pass before mowing with a regular lawn mower.


Mowing Grass

For large yards about an acre in size, you will want to use a riding mower. A push mower is capable of mowing smaller lawns. Once you select your mower, inspect the machinery before putting it to use. Mow when the turf is dry and when there is not immediate rainfall forecasted within spring, summer, and early fall.

Clear your mower from cut grass clippings and other debris while it is turned off. Ensure the blades of your mower are still sharp. If blunt, then this may result in the grass roots being pulled up, damaging your turf by scalping or leading to death of lawn.

Set the blades to a desired mowing height. A general rule is to cut no more than 1/3 of the grass blades.

At a slow pace, mow your lawn starting from the perimeter then inwards to protect the grass blades and engine from being overworked. Repeat the mowing process once per week, until it is at desired level of growth, then continue mowing your lawn as needed to maintain its height. Typically, most turfs are recommended to mow when it exceeds 3 inches or more in height.

It would be best to change the mowing direction each time to help encourage straight grown of turfgrass blades. Once mowing is complete, treat your lawn with an of irrigation once per week to help replenish loss nutrients and vitamins.

Correct Drainage Issues

Clean Rain Gutter

With the excess build-up of turf, leaves, and other organic matter this can cause your yard to have uneven surfaces from puddles of water or being consistently wet.

Before heavy amounts of rain can occur make sure your drainage pipes and rain gutters are cleaned of any debris. This can help save your lawn from overwatering and being submerged underneath water.

Its not unusual for parts of your yard to become sloped from low-maintenance, competition of overgrown turf and tree roots, and abundance of water. If this happens, fill holes in your yard with landscaping sand and direct rain gutter downspout away from affected area. However, do not add so much landscaping sand that it covers the turf. 

Remove Weeds and Brush

Spot Spraying

Once your lawn has reached an appropriate grass height, you can focus on the pests, broadleaf weed, grassy weed, and brush that festered in it. To avoid harming your turf, we recommend using spot applications with herbicides to directly eliminate the weed or brush.

For most broadleaf and grassy weeds that have emerged in your lawn, you will need to use a post-emergent herbicide like MSM Turf Herbicide. MSM Turf Herbicide is a granular post-emergent herbicide that controls a wide variety of broadleaf and grassy weeds in lawns and other ornamental turfs. For most applications, use 0.25 to 1 oz. of MSM Turf Herbicide per 100 gallons of water per acre.

Once a week has passed after application of MSM Turf Herbicide, you may apply other pesticide products. Most overgrown lawns consistent of woody vegetation that help to take away space for desired plant growth and essential nutrients from turf.

To get rid of these brush and woody plants, you will want to proceed with a post-emergent herbicide labeled to do so like Triclopyr 4 Brush Killer. This product kills a broad-spectrum of brush and woody plants in ornamental turfs by absorbing into the treated foliage then travels to the roots for complete control. Spot applications in turf with Triclopyr 4 Brush Killer should be used at the rate of 0.375 to 0.75 fl. oz. of product per 1-2 gallons of water per 1,000 sq. ft. For woody vegetations, it is recommended to use 2-6 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Insects are common in overgrown lawns so you will want to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide like Supreme IT. Supreme IT is 7.9% of bifenthrin that helps to kill up to 70 different types of insects in lawns, around homes foundation, within homes, and more. Once dried, it creates a residual that continues to kill and repel labeled pests for up to 90 days after application. For general insect control, apply 1 fl. oz. of Supreme IT per gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Determine how much product to use by measuring the square footage of the treatment area. To do this, measure the length and width of the treatment area in feet then multiply (length X width = square footage). To find acreage, take the square footage and divide it by one acre (square footage / 43,560 sq. ft. = acres).

Each of these products will need to be mixed with water so you will want to use a handheld pump sprayer. Fill the sprayer halfway with water, add measured amount of product, then pour remaining half of water into the spray tank. Close the sprayer lid and shake to ensure even agitation.

Weed and Feed Your Lawn

Spreading Fertilizer

When your overgrown lawn has been tamed and all weeds have been removed, you can proceed with a fertilizer appropriate to use in that season.

During the spring, weed and feed fertilizers such as Solutions 15-5-10 Weed and Feed Fertilizer with Trimec would be ideal to fight against germinating weeds in your turf. This fertilizer also help to restore loss of turf nutrients while also fighting against pre-emergent weeds within 30 days of application. For most applications, use 3.2 to 4.0 lbs. of Solutions 15-5-10 Weed and Feed Fertilizer with Trimec per 1,000 sq. ft.

Another time in the year to fight against germinating weeds is the fall season. To control pre-emergent weeds in the fall, use a slow-release granule product like Barricade Granular Pre-Emergent Herbicide. This broad-spectrum herbicide prevents a wide variety of broadleaf and grassy weeds in established turfgrass for up to 60 days after application. Depending on the turf species, apply between 1.5 to 4 lbs. of Barricade Granular Pre-Emergent Herbicide per 1,000 sq. ft.

Load the appropriate amount of product into your push spreader and calibrate it to correct setting based on your spreader model. Broadcast half the amount of granules at a perpendicular angle by beginning at the edge of the lawn then walking around the perimeter of the yard at a steady pace. You will then walk and forth across the property with the other half of the granules to cover the space in the middle.

When 1 to 2 days have passed from application, active the product granules with 0.5 inches of water. Sweep any granules that have landed on your sidewalk, street, or driveway back onto your lawn.

Keep children and pets off treated areas until 24 hours have passed after application and product has completely dried.

Key Takeaways

How to Clear Out Weed and Brush in Overgrown Grass?

  • When your yard is overrun with weeds or brush, then a post-emergent herbicide with the ability to be used as a spot treatment is often the best form of control. To get rid of grassy and broadleaf weeds in your tall turf, then use MSM Turf Herbicide. Eliminating brush and woody vegetation in your tall turf can be done with Triclopyr 4 Brush Killer.

What Season Should Overgrown Yard Be Treated

  • There is no best season for control of overgrown turf, but usually the spring or early fall would be ideal. Since during these periods turf growth is slower and weeds are commonly known to germinate during these periods.

How to Prevent Overgrown Lawn

  • Take some time to inspect your yard for fallen debris, rocks, and other man-made objects. Remove these obstacles then mow until 1/3 of the turf blades are removed. For most turf types, you will want to maintain a height of 3 inches. Mow at least once a week when your turf exceeds this height and maintain appearance with on-going weed and shrub treatments.
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