How to Fix Neglected, Weed Ridden Lawns

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Expel Turf Herbicide
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Keith's Pro Tips

"Insects can become a host to your neglected lawn, especially if it is filled with weeds and moisture issues. For a general pest control, we recommend using a long-lasting residual such as Supreme IT. This bifenthrin insecticide concentrate controls up to 70 types of insects and continues to repel and kill them 90 days after application."

How to Fix Neglected, Weed Ridden Lawns

This article is a general DIY guide to help repair ugly lawns filled with weeds and patches. Using the recommended lawn care products and steps listed throughout this page helps to control weeds to improve the appearance of your homes lawn.

New or current homeowners can agree that yards are an integral part of the homes landscape. It provides a setting for entertaining your pets, friends, and family members as well as increase the aesthetic appearance of your home with trees and ornamentals. Well-cared for landscapes also increases the value of your home and property.

Despite their small size, broadleaf and grassy weeds such as clovers, dandelions, or crabgrass can quickly lower the quality of your lawn and homes value. Once you spotted one of these weeds in your turfgrass you are bound to see more. Broadleaf and grassy weeds continue to keep multiplying until all nutrients, moisture, and space in your lawn is taken making them a large, unattractive problem.

Whether you are just purchasing your property or trying to take control of your current yard from weeds, bare patches, or diseases it can be done. Unfortunately, successful lawn management takes up to several weeks to repair or possibly years depending on the amount of weeds and health of turf. Breaking the cycle of weeds and disease in your lawn to increase its health can be done by following the steps and products suggested throughout this DIY Guide.

What Kind of Grass Does Your Lawn Have

Inspecting Turf

Before you proceed with repairing your ugly, weed ridden lawn you will need to know what type of grass it is compiled with. There are two different types of turfgrasses: cool-seasoned turfgrass and warm-seasoned turfgrasses. Depending on your turf type will help determine which herbicides and pesticide material can be used as well as when to apply these products.

Cool-Seasoned Grasses:

Homeowners located within the northern portion of the United States usually have cool-seasoned turf such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Annual Ryegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Fescue, or Bentgrass.

These turfs grow in cooler environments where the temperatures range between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool-seasoned turf should be treated in the early fall or spring if the weather is cool and not warm.

Warm-Seasoned Grasses:

Lawns along the southern half of the United States consist of warm-seasoned turf like St. Augustine grass, Bahiagrass, Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Buffalograss, or Carpetgrass. These types of grasses have a shorter growing season meaning they reach maturity usually by mid spring.

Depending on the weather, warm-seasoned turf can be treated from middle of February to late August. Unlike cool-seasoned turf, this type of turf grows best in warm and humid temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Fix An Ugly Lawn Filled with Weeds

Even though weeds are considered a nuisance they are plants just like turf with the exception they are more harmful than beneficial. Meaning they continue to become as thick as regular turfgrass until the entire lawn is covered.

The best way to make your lawn has a lush, green appearance again is to make it difficult for the weed to grow and remove conditions allowing it to thrive. Herbicides designed as a pre-emergent or post-emergent would be best to control weeds. Pre-emergents herbicides are chemical products that work to stop weeds from germinating underneath soil, sprouting, or emerging from the soil. Post-emergent herbicides are chemical products that work to travel through emerged weeds leaves or roots.

Step 1: Test Your Soil

Testing Soil and Grass

When taking on caring for new or established lawns it would be best to test the soil. A soil test will give you information on your soil texture, pH, moisture and nutrient levels.

Knowing these levels will help determine what type and amount of fertilizer is needed in your lawn. This also helps with determining any underlying disease within your turf that may not be present at the time.

Step 2: Remove Weed and Fungi

Spraying Weeds

Examine your lawn to figure out which specific broadleaf weed, grassy weed, or fungi and disease is present. Since pesticides are made to target certain weeds, fungi, or disease, you will need to determine what's infesting your turfgrass. Once you have determined the weed type and its stage of growth you can choose the most appropriate treatment plan.

For established weeds, use a post-emergent herbicide labeled to be used on your turf type and for the specific weed. We recommend using a post-emergent herbicide Expel Turf Herbicide, which treats over 50 types of grass and broadleaf weeds in cool-seasoned and warm-seasoned turf.

For general fungi and disease control on lawns, you will want to use a systemic fungicide like Patch Pro Fungicide. This emulsifiable concentrate is formulated with the active ingredient propiconazole 14.3% to control a broad-spectrum of diseases such as brown patch, powdery mildew, and blights.

Determine how much pesticide material to use by measuring the square footage of your treatment area. To do this, measure the length and width of the treatment site 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).

Expel Turf Herbicide and Patch Pro Fungicide must be mixed with water before application, which requires tools such as a handheld pump sprayer for application to turfgrass. 

Applications with Expel Turf Herbicide will be based on what grass your lawn is composed of. In cool seasoned grasses, apply 4 to 8 fl. oz. of Expel Turf Herbicide per 10 gallons of water per acre. For warm-seasoned grasses, use 8 to 12 fl. oz. of Expel Turf Herbicide per 10 gallons of water per acre.

Depending on the disease, you will want to use 0.5 to 4.0 fl. oz. of Patch Pro Fungicide per 1 gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft. of treatment area. Be sure to check the products label for the correct application rate to treat the disease or fungus your targeting.

Step 3: Reseed Lawns

Seeded Lawn

Insects, weather, and lack of general lawn maintenance can stress turfgrass, causing it to thin to the point of it being bare. If your lawn is looking worn or consisting of small bare patches, then it may be time to seed your lawn.

When beginning to plan for newly seeded lawns, you will need to know that warm-seasoned turf seeds need to be planted in the second half of spring when temperatures are warm to late summer (July). The best time to plant seeds for cool-seasoned turf is in the fall, which is usually the second half of August to first half of October.

Spread the grass seeds evenly across the parts of turf that are bare by hand or with a hand spreader. For large bare patches or thinning turf, you will need to use either a push or broadcast spreader.

Wait until 30 to 45 days before proceeding with any type of pesticide treatments, and mowing.

Step 4: Fertilizing to Maintain Turf Color and Strength

Spreading Fertilizer

Most homeowners assume that with the season the lawn will repair itself, except when there has been consistent fungi, diseases, or weeds. If your lawn does not have the right amount of nutrients during the season, and its combating the previously mentioned conditions then it won't grow healthy. Typically, it will look discolored, thin, or have bare patches.

When these afflictions have been removed, you can recover your turfgrass color and density with the provision of nutrients in the form of fertilizer. However, you will need to feed your turfgrass with the right amount of nutrients and fertilizer to be used in that season.

For applications in the spring, take a look at Solutions 15-5-10 Weed & Feed Fertilizer with Trimec. In most treatments, you will apply 3.2 to 4 lbs. of product per 1,000 sq. ft. of treatment area.

In summer, check out Solutions Pro Grow Summer Blend 19-4-10 Fertilizer. This is a 19-4-10 fertilizer, and you will apply 5 lbs. of product per 1,000 sq. ft.

During the fall, consider Solutions 8-12-16 Fall Grow Fertilizer. This is a 8-12-16 fertilizer blend, and you will use 5 lbs. of product per 1,000 sq. ft.

With these granular fertilizers, you will need to use a push or broadcast spreader to broadcast the material across your treatment area. Load the measured amount of fertilizer into a calibrated spreader and broadcast half of your granules in parallel lines once across the area. Then broadcast the other half of the measured fertilizer at a perpendicular angle to cover the entire area. Be sure to walk at an even pace to spread the fertilizer material evenly across your lawn.

Once the fertilizer has been applied, you will need to water it in to activate the material.

Step 5: Mow Your Lawn Regularly

Mowing Grass

Now that everything has been cleared and taken out of the way, you can begin to mow your turf. This will help to immediately control the appearance of your lawn and encourage new grass growth to improve its density.

When it comes to mowing your lawn a general rule is to avoid cutting 1/3 of your turf to prevent scalping issues. When the grass reaches 3 inches in height then its time for a trim.

Depending on the season, mowing should be continued until the lawn is covered with frost or snow.

Key Takeaways

When is the Best Time To Repair Lawns

  • The best time to start repairing your neglected, lawn is during the early fall or spring depending on its turf type. If reseeding is needed for thin, bare patches in your lawn then you will need to plant warm-seasoned grass seeds in the second half of spring when the weather is warmer and to the late summer (July). For cool-seasoned grass seeds this will be in the fall (second half of August to first half of October) when the soil is still relatively warm from summer.

How Long Does It Take to Repair Damaged, Ugly Lawns

  • Full control of a lawns appearance after overgrowth, weeds, and other afflictions will determine its regrowth success. Depending on the treatment and health of the lawn, it can take several weeks to even years before lawn is lush, and green again.

How to Repair A Lawn Full of Weeds

  • We recommend making a post-emergent application with Expel Turf Herbicide which kills over 50 types of broadleaf and grassy weeds in cool and warm-seasoned turf. If weeds are non-existent during the spring season, you can instead use Solutions 15-5-10 Weed & Feed Fertilizer with Trimec, which functions as a pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer.
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