Learn about the common weeds of middle Tennessee that may be infecting your lawn and how to get rid of them.
Maintaining a well-kept lawn can be one of the most rewarding small pleasures in life. Nothing beats seeing your lawn in all its glory after a long years’ worth of preparing it. The raking, fertilizing, seeding, mowing, and other work you spend countless hours on. A well-kept lawn is a source of personal accomplishment, for sure. It’s surprising how you can become obsessed with making sure everything is healthy and green.
As a Tennessee homeowner, you’re probably familiar with the work it takes to maintain your lawn. After all, for as popular as lawns are here, Tennessee isn’t exactly known for its easy lawn upkeep. Being in the transition zone makes it difficult to choose between warm-season and cool-season grasses. Most lawn care guides are based on other, more straightforward turf-growing zones. This makes it difficult to figure out what exactly you need to do to keep your lawn in tip-top shape.
If you have enough experience maintaining lawns this won’t surprise you. You would know that the biggest enemy is the same no matter where you are geographically: weeds.
No matter how diligently you monitor stray sprouts and spray weed repellant, every season, it seems like at least a few weeds pop up here and there.
So you’ve seen a few strange weeds appear in your lawn and you’re wondering what they are. You want to know how to spot the warning signs of an incoming weed infestation, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out 4 common turf weeds in middle Tennessee and what you can do to prevent them.
Crabgrass is one of the most common turf weeds across the nation. It is especially common in Tennessee. Native to Europe and Eurasia, crabgrass was originally introduced to the U.S. in 1849. Since then, it has been wreaking havoc on lawns across the country ever since.
Crabgrass is a flat, spreading grass that grows in clumps. Its blades are broader and thicker than most turf grasses. It usually starts popping up during the summer. It spreads by seed and is highly invasive. If you do not get it under control quickly, it can take over your entire lawn. It does this by stealing nutrients from your turf and limiting its ability to grow.
As unsightly and prolific as it is, the good news about crabgrass is that it is easy to deal with. After appearing in summer, it usually dies on its own when the temperatures start to drop in fall. This happens especially in Tennessee’s cooler temperate climates.
This means that it doesn’t matter if you had an infestation during the last summer. Prevention starts with a little application of pre-emergent herbicide in the spring. This will help increase chances of eliminating crabgrass in the summer.
If you don’t want to wait until the wintertime, you can also try manually removing the crabgrass. Pull out the entire plant, including the roots. After that, seed the remaining bare patches with new turf seed.
Dallisgrass is another common weed in Tennessee lawns. Native to South America, it was introduced to the United States as a foraging plant for livestock. Nowadays, it likes to invade lawns across the country’s southeastern states. Here is where it proves itself as a formidable foe against lawn owners.
Dallisgrass is a coarse-textured clumping grass that likes to grow in flat, fan-like shapes. It is grayish greenish in color, and it can spread either by seed or rhizomes. This invader also known as creeping rootstalk. It is a perennial warm-season grass. This means that even though it sprouts in the summer, its roots lay dormant throughout the year.
The bad news about dallisgrass is that it’s one of the most difficult-to-control weeds you can get in Tennessee. The longer you have dallisgrass without taking any action against it, the harder it is to kill. Without proper treatment, it will keep expanding its root system across your lawn. In time, it completely chokes out your turf.
The best way to deal with dallisgrass is with patience and persistence. When you have a large infestation, it takes time. Usually, it takes several applications of herbicides across a year or two to eradicate it. Even then, a stray rhizome may remain here or there.
If you see a small patch of dallisgrass in your lawn, take action immediately. Chances are it has not yet become an infestation. Your best course of action is to pull out any young plant you see (including the rhizomes). After this keep a watchful eye on the area.
You can also try calling a professional lawn service like Turf Managers to get rid of it for you.
Dandelion is a polarizing plant. Some love its bright yellow flowers and nutritious, multi-purpose foliage and roots. Others dread the way its puffball seeds spread across their lawns so fast. The consensus seems to be that, as cute or useful as dandelions might be, its best if it stays off the lawn.
Dandelion is a perennial broadleaf plant that grows in bunches across your lawn. It spreads by seeds and rootstock and is incredibly hardy. Even in harsh weather conditions where germination cannot occur, dandelions survive. In these conditions, dandelion seeds can remain viable until conditions improve. That means that even if you think you’ve dealt with the problem, you may not have. A surprise dandelion or two might still appear in the next season.
Unfortunately, there’s no secret method to getting rid of dandelions. If you only have a few, you can try pulling them out by hand and making sure to get the roots (which can be 6-18 inches long) as well. If the problem is more pervasive, you can try applying a broadleaf herbicide. This will kill broadleaf plants like dandelion but keep your regular turf untouched.
Apply your herbicide or weedkiller in the fall so it can be absorbed directly into the roots. This increases the chance of killing the dandelion permanently.
Commonly mistaken for crabgrass, goosegrass is a warm-season annual weed. This weed likes to emerge in your lawn during the summer months exactly like crabgrass. It grows in flat, clump-like formations and has a medium green color. The main distinguishing aspect of its appearance is its flat stems and its silvery-white crown.
Goosegrass is native to Eurasia but has established itself as quite a nuisance in Tennessee. An invasive species, it spreads by seed and can be hard to control once it gets established in an area. It thrives in compacted soils that occur in high-traffic areas of turf. Here is where it outcompetes turf grass for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
Like crabgrass, goosegrass can be annoying, but it is simple to manage. First, in late winter apply pre-emergent herbicide. Second, in summer you should apply post-emergent herbicide. These make for reliable methods for controlling outbreaks.
If you want to prevent it from occurring or guard against it for the next season the best thing is maintenance. Focusing on and maintaining a healthy, lush lawn is key. Make sure your lawn has proper draining, pH and aeration. Also, try to alternate which areas of your lawn get more traffic. When your lawn has thick, healthy grass, goosegrass seeds are less likely to sprout.
Weeds can be a nuisance, but with proper lawn care, you can prevent many of them from sprouting in the first place.
And, if you’re already dealing with an infestation — not to worry. You can take matters into your own hands with some weed-pulling and herbicides. You can also get a service like Turf Managers to do the dirty work for you.
With 25 years of experience, we know what it takes to create a thriving lawn in Tennessee. We can fix any problem your lawn has — big or small.