A Homeowner's Guide To Lawn Weeds In Louisiana

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Lawn weeds are an annoyance for homeowners everywhere, and Louisiana is certainly no exception. With our wet climate and consistently damp soil, lawn weeds are simply a part of life for any homeowner. Thankfully, there are ways to treat a weed invasion and even prevent one from happening. This guide is designed to give you the information you need in order to keep your lawn looking beautiful and weed-free this year!

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What Are Lawn Weeds?

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Lawn weeds are plants that have been identified as either non-native or native species that are not desirable in a particular location (your lawn or garden). This often includes grasses that may be acceptable in warmer climates finding their way into cool-climate lawns, and vice versa. They will compete with your desired turfgrass and other plants for resources like water, nutrients, and sunlight, leaving little-to-no nourishment left for the grass and flowers you actually want to see thrive. As lawn weeds spread across your property, your grass will become thinner and discolored, and certain lawns may never be able to recover if an invasion goes undetected for too long. Thankfully, there are some easy ways you can identify weeds in Louisiana lawns, and that's the first step you need to take to get your lawn back in tip-top shape!

What Do Lawn Weeds Look Like?

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Weeds come in all sorts of varieties and species that can vary wildly in size, color, shape, texture, and more. Though there is no definitive trait you can look for in your lawn to identify all weeds, there are some pretty reliable indicators that will tell you whether you are looking at healthy grass/plants or an invasive weed species. Though these are by no means a guarantee, you can usually be confident that you are dealing with some type of lawn weed if the following characteristics are present:

  • Leaves that have different colors than surrounding grass blades
  • Leaves that are shaped differently than the surrounding grass blades
  • Stems or stalks that rise above the height of neighboring vegetation
  • Flowers or seed heads growing at times when they shouldn't
  • Flowering petals with brighter colors or atypical patterns
  • Shallow roots that spread out from the base of the weed
  • Complex taproots with fibrous offshoots
  • Rapid growth compared to other plants in the vicinity

Types Of Lawn Weeds

To truly identify common lawn weeds, you have to first understand the difference between the two main categories of weeds: grassy and broadleaf. Though all weeds pose the same threat to your lawn of depleting its natural resources, different weeds develop and spread throughout your lawn in different ways. Understanding the difference between grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds is key to helping you prevent and remove weeds before they can do any serious damage.

Grassy Weeds

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As the name suggests, grassy weeds resemble regular turfgrass, which makes them the most difficult types of weeds to spot in your lawn. Because of the resemblance, it can be very difficult to differentiate between harmful grassy weeds and desirable turfgrass. The various types of grassy weeds are known to be some of the toughest weeds to control because many of them have shallow roots that spread rapidly near the soil surface. These shallow roots will get first access to any fertilizer you apply, not to mention all the moisture and minerals that naturally soak into your lawn's soil. Look for patches of grass in your lawn that are shaped differently (folded grass blades, canoe-shaped blades, etc.) or grow at a much faster rate than the surrounding grass.

Common Grassy Weeds In Louisiana:

Broadleaf Weeds

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Broadleaf weeds can be identified by their infamous wide, flat leaves. These leaves are often fuzzier or smoother than more common garden plants. Depending on the species of broadleaf weed, the plant may produce a single flower or a cluster of flowers. Broadleaf weeds can grow annually, biennially, or perennially, making their growth and control needs difficult to predict. These weeds are known to multiply quickly, utilizing a mixture of both rhizomes (under ground), stolons (above ground), and seeds to sprout new shoots. Many broadleaf weeds grow in a prostrate manner that leads to tangling and matting across your turf. Broadleaf weeds can have a very shallow root system near the surface of the soil, a deep central taproot, or a combination of both, which can make removing mature broadleaf weeds very difficult.

Common Broadleaf Weeds In Louisiana:

Where Do Weeds Come From?

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Weeds can come from a variety of sources, but they mainly spread through root expansion and/or seed dispersal. Annual weeds tend to spread mostly by seeds because they only live for one growing season, which means roots don't have as much time to develop and spread under your lawn. Perennials often utilize a mixture of both seeds and and root development to spread their invasion, as these types of weeds go dormant in winter and resume root growth in spring. Seed dispersal is the main way that all annual weeds spread their invasion across your lawn, or even from one lawn to another.

Aside from these sources that physically spread the weed invasion, there are also a number of conditions and situations that make your yard more vulnerable and likely to invite a weed infestation. Below are some of the most common causes of lawn weeds in Louisiana:

  • Poor Drainage: Poor soil drainage and low fertility create an ideal environment for weeds to grow, as many types thrive in overly moist soil.
  • Overwatering: Too much water can create a soggy environment, which encourages weed seeds to germinate. 
  • Inadequate Mowing: Mowing too low or infrequently can weaken grasses, allowing weeds to take hold.
  • Improper Fertilization: Fertilizer helps to promote healthy grass growth, but too much or not enough nitrogen is an open invitation for weeds to invade.
  • Excess Sunlight: Some sunlight is necessary for all plants, but too much sun exposure can weaken turfgrass and leave it vulnerable to weeds.
  • Soil Compaction: Compacted soils have less oxygen and nutrients available for roots, which favors the shallow roots of many weeds.

How To Remove & Prevent Lawn Weeds

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Dealing with lawn weeds is something every homeowner has to face eventually. With the overly saturated and constantly moist soils of Louisiana lawns, weeds are an inevitability. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. Removing lawn weeds from your property can sometimes be as easy as pulling up or digging out the roots of the weed. As long as you remove all of the plant and leave no root fragments behind, this can be an effective method for weed removal. Pre-emergent and chemical weed killers can also be effective, but you run the risk of killing off swaths of your lawn if you do not know how to properly apply them.

The best way to keep weeds away is to simply maintain a healthy lawn throughout the year. Proper lawn care is invaluable to weed prevention, as most weeds seek out lawns that are already struggling with poor growth and soil quality issues. The better shape your lawn is in, the less likely you are to face a severe weed invasion on your property. Consider the tips below while you are tending to your lawn this season:

  • Mow weekly, and set blade height near 3 inches to choke out weeds.
  • Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, with heavy rains replacing watering.
  • Use a season-appropriate fertilizer, and monitor nitrogen levels.
  • Plant a warm-season grass type that is acclimated to our region.
  • Apply a pre-emergent in spring to prevent weeds from growing.
  • Call Brothers Lawn Service for the best weed control in Baton Rouge and Lafayette!