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  • How can I get rid of lawn weeds safely?

    Created by Terry Schaedig on

    Hi –

    I’m looking for an herbicide to rid my lawn of smooth brome, which is intermingled with a native forb and grass planting. It’s spotty in places but dense in a few others. I have about 1/2 acre to work on. What do you suggest?

    I could spot spray and in the past used a mop to administer herbicide to newly emerged tips of grass plants. But that was glyphosate and I won’t use that chemical ever again. Do you recommend anything organic out there or something fairly non-toxic? I’m concerned about not just the plants, but also insect and bird populations.


  • Author
  • #259639

    Eric Vinje

    Hi Terry –

    As you probably know, in an organic lawn it is unrealistic to expect that you will not have any weeds at all, but it is possible to keep them under control. Here’s a few tips that we recommend:

    • Plant a diverse crop of turf grasses. If a situation comes up that one or two cultivars cannot tolerate, weeds will begin to overrun the lawn. However, with a more varied array of grasses there is likely to be a species or two that can overcome any adverse conditions.

    • Try the age-old practice of hand weeding. It can be time consuming, but with the right tool it’s not too bad. Then, plant grass seeds in the holes left by the removed weeds.

    • Lawns that are cut high will overshadow many weeds.

    • Corn gluten meal can be applied as a pre-emergent weed killer. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of dandelions, crabgrass and many other annual weeds.

    • Spot treat weeds in lawns with organic herbicides. The best one we’ve found is called Alldown. It contains 20% acetic acid, plus citric acid to completely eliminate weeds and undesirable vegetation. Best of all, it’s approved for organic use.

    Note: Be sure any weed killer you choose to use in your lawn is safe for grass. Many are indiscriminate and will kill grass as well as broad-leafed plants. If so, make sure to spot-treat weeds. Fitting a plastic tube cut from a piece of pipe or a thin plastic bottle over the nozzle of your herbicide sprayer will help focus it on your intended target.

    Please also take a look at our Organic Lawn Care page (scroll down for weeds). Here, we offer a lengthy discussion on how to ditch the chemicals and repair your lawn using proven, organic techniques.

    Hope it helps!

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