Weeds Begone!

Eliminating Weeds 101

Weeds are an unsightly nuisance that can quickly take over your lawn or garden if left unchecked. Removing them can be a tedious and backbreaking task. Here’s how to easily eliminate weeds from your yard and make way for grass to grow thick and green.   

When to Apply Weed Killer

Lawn care is often a dance of eliminating weeds and encouraging grass to grow. The two are connected, since effective weed control leads to a greener, thicker lawn—and vice versa. 

A healthy, lush lawn will crowd out and discourage weed growth. Yet many weed-killing products will also inhibit the growth of grass, so it’s important to time the application of weed killer with care. Since grass seed is typically applied in the fall (for cool-season grasses) or spring (for warm-season grasses), you will want to vanquish weeds before grass-planting time, or well after.

Helpful Tips

TIP: It’s optimum to kill weeds early, before they have time to nestle into your landscape and grow roots. Therefore, consider applying a pre-emergent weed killer to your lawn. This type of weed killer arrests weeds before they emerge from the soil by keeping them from germinating. Some pre-emergent weed killers can be purchased for specific use, such as targeting crab grass before it appears. 

Esh Picks: Top Weed Eliminators

If you are killing weeds after they have appeared, you’ll want to employ a post-emergent weed killer. Weed killers come in either granular or liquid form. Granular formulas are applied with a spreader; and liquid forms can be applied with a backpack sprayer or, for larger areas, a tow-behind sprayer.

Here are some of our favorite weed killers, selected for their effectiveness and price

Best broad-based weed killer

Esh Pick: Eraser 41% Weed Killer Herbicide

Like Roundup? Try Eraser. “It will kill everything, like Roundup does,” says Ray Esh of Esh Hardware about this cost-conscious favorite. Both products contain glyphosate, a key ingredient responsible for a broad-based control of weeds, vegetation and brush. Note that Eraser, like Roundup, will kill everything in its path, including grass and flowers. Like the name suggests, Eraser is ideal for outdoor spaces where you wish to clear out everything and start anew. Allow approximately 1 week to see results. Then, clear out the dead weeds and prep the ground—then plant grass seed. 

Best long-term weed killer

Esh Pick: Eliminator Total Vegetation Killer Herbicide

“It kills weeds and they stay dead for about a year,” says Esh of Eliminator Total Vegetation Killer Herbicide. By penetrating foliage and moving into the roots, this powerful concentrate eradicates even the toughest weeds—while keeping grass intact. It’s ideal for lawns, meadows and places where your weed wacker can’t reach, such as along fences, walkways and driveways.

Best weed killer for gardens and flower beds

Esh Pick: Preen Garden or Flower Weed Preventer (Plus Plant Food)

Eliminating weeds in gardens and flower beds calls for products that won’t damage plants, or seep into the soil and pose health risks. Preen Garden has weed preventers that consider the flowers and the vegetables. “Before you mulch, sprinkle it around flowers or plants to prevent weeds from coming up,” advises Esh. Don’t put it directly on the plants or flowers, he cautions—but around them. “It blocks weeds for three months, and in some places even longer than that.”

Combine Products To Kill Weeds—And Feed Your Grass

Some products that can be used in tandem to eliminate weeds and enrich grass. “I mix these two together,” says Esh of Eliminator Herbicide and Thunderstorm Fertilizer—a biologically based liquid fertilizer by Thunder Ridge Outdoors. “So I kill the weed, and I feed the grass. It’s very simple. Just put it into a sprayer, or a tow-behind sprayer, and you’re good to go.”

If the idea of timing your application of weed killer and lawn fertilizer, then selecting products a la carte is not your fancy, consider a 4-step seasonal program, such as one by Scott’s or Landscapers Select. 

Any 4-step program you select will typically consist of a granular system applied from spring through fall, and includes the following:  

• Early spring – a fertilizer with crab grass preventer

• Late spring – a weed-and-feed formula that kills weeds, and enriches grass

• Summer – a grass fertilizer to boost your lawn

• Fall – a winterizing treatment that feeds grass, promotes strong grass root growth and helps your lawn store food for the winter

Photo Credit: Philippe 2009

Helpful Tips

Tip: For Easy Grass, Try Frost Seeding

A healthy yard with lots of grass creates competition for weeds to sprout. Yet over-seeding a lawn, or growing new grass, takes work. If you live in colder climates, there’s a simpler method called frost seeding, which consists of spreading grass seed on the ground in February, when the snow has disappeared and there’s only frost. No tiller or pre-seeder is needed, just seed.

“That’s when the frost is starting, and then the ground freezes again a little bit,” says Esh of the timing of frost seeding. “It creates these cracks in the ground, and your seed eventually falls down in them. When the weather warms up in April, the seeds will start to sprout. You’ll see these little shoots coming out of the earth.”

Handy tools for pulling weeds

If you have a small yard or garden, and the number of weeds to remove is sparse or few, consider using a hand tool to remove them by hand. Even if you use a weed killer, consider having one or more of these handy. 

Hand trowel or hand cultivator. These small hand tools allow you to dig into the soil and uproot weeds, getting at the entire root system.

Weed puller tool. Designed specifically for removing weeds, these tools have a forked head that you press into soil in order to grab onto the roots for easy extraction.

Garden hoe or hori hori knife. The sharp blade of a hoe or hori hori knife can slice through weed roots sitting just below the soil surface. A hori hori knife, by the way, is a versatile, Japanese garden knife with an array of digging and cutting features.

Garden fork. The strong, curved tines of a garden fork pry out weeds with deep taproots.

Hand pruners. For thicker, woodier weed stems, hand pruners can cleanly cut them off at the base.

Located in or near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania? Esh Hardware stocks many hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind lawn products created by independent companies. These brands are effective, budget-conscious alternatives to big-box brands that often have an eco-conscious advantage. 

Esh also carries a selection of spreaders and sprayers: from entry level and mid range brands, such as those by Chapin, to premium sprayers, such as Milwaukee’s innovative, battery operated sprayer with no manual pumping. 

Esh Hardware is located in Ronks, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes east of Downtown Lancaster. 

Don’t feel like driving? Esh Hardware also has a delivery service for addresses located within an 8 to 10-mile radius of our store, located at 64 Clearview Road in Ronks, Pennsylvania. The service includes Lancaster County communities such as New Holland, Leola, Ronks, Intercourse, Bird in Hand, Lampeter and even areas near the shopping outlets along Route 30. Not sure if your address is part of their delivery area? Call Esh Hardware at 717-768-8497. 

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