How to Stop Weeds from Affecting Curb Appeal

Ever since the pesticide ban came into effect in Ontario in 2009, I’ve had “pull weeds from the grass” added to my “honey do list” regularly. And since I’d much rather be relaxing on a patio than digging up weeds, I’ve decided to wage war against weeds before they start. For any other homeowners out there who are waging the same war, and especially for those thinking of selling their home, I’ve got a few tips to share that will help keep weeds at bay and add to your curb appeal with a green, lush lawn.

Weed killing tips

Soil Improvement: Keeping weeds out of lawns can be a full time job -- and let’s face it, we don’t need another job to add to our list! Healthy soil gives your grass a fighting chance because it encourages grass and root growth, rather than weeds. Supplement your yard with compost, well-aged manure, and fish fertilizer. Heavy, infrequent watering will encourage your grass to develop deep roots. During extended dry periods, the grass will survive as young weeds wither. Adding lime and a nitrogen-rich fertilizer will help to create unfavourable conditions for weeds such as clover.

Aeration: Aeration will also help to improve your soil and make it less favourable for some weeds, which thrive in compact turf. Use a handheld or motorized aerator to increase airflow and reduce soil compaction. Push the aerator down into the soil at an angle to remove soil cores then leave them on the lawn to dissolve.

Lawn-mowing: Avoid mowing too low and when the weather is too hot. Short grass offers less competition for weeds and also dries out faster in hot weather.

Tools: One of the most effective weed control methods is simply to dig them up. Over the years, many specialized instruments have been developed to tackle different types of weeds. I like the Fiskars Telecopic Weed Remover. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to tackle the lawn. But remember to fill in holes left after removing weeds with soil and sow fresh grass seed.

Mulch: A layer of horticultural fabric, bark chips, cocoa husks and other types of mulch will block out sunlight from weed seeds and seedlings. Mulch will also help the soil retain moisture reducing the need for watering.

Alternative Herbicides: Since chemical pesticides are no longer an option, I’ve discovered Scott’s Weed B Gon. It’s an ‘eco sense’ product that has become one of my personal faves. Yes, it’s a bit pricey and the blackened weed on the lawn is sort of ugly, but it’s one of the only products that I’ve truly found effective and easy to use.

Beneficial weeds: As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! With the wind blowing in seeds from neighbouring properties, it won't be possible to permanently eradicate weeds from your lawn. Fortunately, some weeds have their benefits. Clover, for example, will add nitrogen to the soil. Yarrow is rich in minerals and is a good addition to a compost heap. Yarrow also has medicinal properties, and if left uncut will produce attractive white flowers. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has medicinal properties as a blood purifier and diuretic. In addition, its long taproot will mine minerals from deep in the subsoil to be made available via the compost heap.

Lawn care resources

I’m far from an being an expert gardener or lawn care specialist, but I’ve found many good resources online with additional tips and products that help make the lawn care and weed killing job easier. Check these out for more information:

Good luck with your battle against the weeds for curb appeal dominance! And remember, if you're planning to sell your home, the lawn is one of the first things a potential buyer will see.