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How to Pull up Weeds & Put Down Top Soil & Seeds

Not every yard is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with a lawn that is more weeds than grass. With a little hard work and the right supplies, your home might end up being the showcase of the neighborhood, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. With the weeds as your biggest obstacle, you may find that simply pulling them up is not an easy task; with a little chemical help, the job goes quicker.

Mix a selective grass weed killer in a garden spray tank, following the directions on the package.

Spray the lawn with even sweeps of the sprayer hose. Wait the allotted time written on the the container for the weeds to die. This may happen as quickly as one day or as long as a week.

Walk through the yard once the weeds are dead and pull up the larger and more obvious weeds. Grab the weeds low to the ground near the base and pull straight up. When they are dead, it’s generally easier to yank them out of the ground.

Rake the lawn to remove thatch or dead layers of grass and break up the soil.

Sprinkle soil over the lawn to fill in areas where the weeds were removed. Adding top soil to the surface replaces tilling the soil, to avoid major lawn renovation. Add a one-quarter-inch layer of soil to bare areas to fill in any soil that was removed with the weeds. Dampen the soil with a watering hose to help it settle.

Hand toss grass seeds over your lawn, focusing mainly on the bare areas. Use a grass seed that matches the grass in your yard.

Spread another light layer of soil on top of the seeds to increase the chance of germination.

Spread a light covering of straw over the fresh soil to hold the seeds in place.

Water the lawn evenly for 15 minutes each day until new grass starts to grow, and then reduce watering to two or three times a week.

How to Remove and Prevent Weeds From Growing in Your Yard

Are you looking at your yard and wondering how to prevent weeds from growing? Look no further! This guide will help you get rid of those pesky weeds and keep them away for good.

The Weed Problem

Weeds grow in gardens, whether we like it or not. They compete with plants and lawn grass for water and nutrients, and they grow everywhere, making the garden less attractive. To solve this problem, they must be removed.

However, for various reasons, weeds often grow back. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • They were not removed completely, and part of their roots stayed in the soil. The left-over roots allow them to grow again.
  • The garden is surrounded by woods or non-landscaped areas containing many weeds, and their seeds get carried by wind or birds to residential yards.
  • If they were not completely removed (all the weeds and all their roots), it is easier for them to return.
  • They might reappear because the lawn is not dense enough, and the empty spots invite weeds to settle down and spread.

The question is, how do we remove weeds effectively? And, once removed, how do we prevent them, as much as possible, from growing back? The following describes the different methods of eliminating weeds and preventing them from growing back for some time.

3 Ways to Remove Weeds

The following are different techniques to remove weeds:

  • Pulling by hand
  • Removing with a hoe
  • Using a chemical product

The best time to remove weeds is when the soil is damp and moist. The day after it has rained is a great day for weeding. Damp soils are loose and make removing them with their roots easier. Otherwise, you may risk leaving the roots because they are stuck in the soil.

If the soil is hard and no rain is forecasted in the next few days, consider hosing down the area with water and let the dirt soak overnight before you start.

Pulling a weed the hard way.

Pulling Weeds by Hand

The best way, though the hardest, is to pull the weeds by hand. Keep in mind that you should remove the whole plant with its roots for this method to be effective. For weeds with shallow roots, you can just hold the plant by its stem and pull gently.

For those with deeper roots, such as dandelions, you need to take some extra care when removing them. You can use a small hoe to dig in the soil around the stem to loosen the soil, then get a firm grasp of the stem and pull. You may need to dig deeper and try pulling several times until you successfully get the entire root out.

Pulling Weeds With a Gardening Tool

Pulling weeds by hand is time-consuming, back-breaking work. An alternative is to use gardening tools to help. You can use a regular garden hoe for shallow-rooted weeds, but for deep-rooted ones, I recommend you use a special tool called a winged weeder.

To remove weeds with the winged weeder, place the bottom tip of the blade right next to the stem, press down vertically to push the blade into the soil, and then tilt the weeder downwards towards the ground to pull the whole root out. Repeat this operation as necessary.

Note that using this tool is more time-consuming than using a regular hoe as you need to remove each unwanted plant individually, but it works better for deeper roots.

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You can purchase these tools from any hardware store.

Using a Chemical Weeding Product

If there are too many weeds to remove manually or with a hoe, you can use a weed killer made of chemicals and spray the chemical directly on each weed. It's not environment-friendly, so use only if it is absolutely necessary. Some, like Ortho's Weed-B-Gon, kill many weeds, including dandelions, crabgrass, and clover. This product does not damage the lawn. Or you can purchase the concentrate, mix it with water, then spray where needed.

After spraying, you can see results in a day or so. After they die, you'll have to remove them by hand, which is difficult but much easier than pulling a live weed.

A downside of these chemicals is that they may not kill the weeds entirely. The chemical only kills what it touches, and if it was not sprayed sufficiently, the weed might not die, so make sure to cover all unwanted plants sufficiently.

How to Prevent Weeds From Growing

To make your weed removal efforts long-lasting, you can take some proactive measures to delay unwanted plants from growing back again by using chemical products or by laying down landscape fabric. Both of these methods are described in detail below.

Using a Weed Preventer

You can use weed preventer granules, such as Preen, to prevent weeds from growing for a temporary period of about three months. Some bottles come with a handy dispenser that enables you to spread the granules around plants, bushes, and trees.

Some weed preventers also come with a fertilizer for plants, so you get both benefits.

Using a Chemical Lawn Fertilizer With Weed Control

A fertilized lawn has fewer weeds since a healthy lawn is dense and leaves little space for unwanted plants to grow. Therefore, both fertilizing your lawn and spreading a weed preventer help control weeds. Some products are available that combine lawn fertilizers with weed control, such as Scott's Turf Builder with Weed Control.

By the way, it is recommended that you fertilize your lawn twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall.

Natural Weed Prevention Using Landscape Fabric

A chemical can help prevent weeds from growing for only a few months, after which they will reappear if you don't reapply the chemical. You can use landscape fabric for longer-lasting results, which prevents them from growing for several years. Landscape fabric blocks the sun from the covered area, preventing unwanted plants from growing, although it still allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the soil. You can cut holes in this fabric to enable certain plants to live happily.

Use landscape fabric on any area you don't want weeds to grow on, large or small, such as a flower bed or a narrow alley that is difficult to mow. Rolls of this material can be purchased from hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowe's or in the garden section of a grocery store.

When laying down the landscape fabric, there are several steps you need to follow. The following video shows how to lay down landscape fabric around plants, and it is followed by steps that describe how to cover an alley completely.

Video: Easy Gardener Weedblock

How to Use Landscape Fabric as a Weed Barrier

Step 1: Remove All Weeds

Before laying down the landscape fabric, you need to remove all unwanted vegetation. In this case, the area has been cleared of both grass and weeds. For flower beds, you will want to remove all the weeds but leave the plants you want to keep.

Yard and Garden News

The idea behind this misconception is that by removing the clippings and weed seedheads, I will be reducing the number of weeds in my lawn for next year. This may seem like an intuitive strategy for reducing weeds in a lawn over time, but the research doesn’t support this practice as being effective.

Generally speaking, if you have weeds in your lawn already, there is a very strong chance there are thousands of other weed seeds already present in the soil. These weed seeds can be viable for years or decades, so removing lawn clippings and weed seedheads will likely not actually reduce the amount of weeds present.

Furthermore, by removing lawn clippings from the lawn, you are removing up to 2.0 lbs N / 1000 ft2 per year that the lawn would use to be thicken and reduce weed pressure over time. After all, a dense, healthy turf is the best defense against weeds.

Misconception #2: Collecting or bagging lawn clippings will reduce the amount of thatch in my lawn.

Another misconception with collecting or bagging clippings is that it will reduce or prevent thatch in the lawn. The thatch-mat layer that can build-up over time is made up of partially dead or decaying plant material containing lignin. Turf leaves (which are what we are cutting when we mow) contain little lignin and are easily broken down by soil microbes over the span of a few weeks and do not significantly contribute to thatch.

Some species, such as Kentucky bluegrass, spread by rhizomes and grow a little more aggressively, naturally creating a thatch-mat layer. Other species, such as tall fescue or the fine fescues, do not readily create a thatch-mat layer.

Misconception #3: If I mow the grass shorter, I won’t have to mow as often.

While your mower may technically be capable of mowing your lawn from 6-8 inches down to 2 inches every two weeks, it is not recommended. Mowing more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade in a single mowing event can damage the turf plants, making them prone to other stresses such as drought, heat, insect, or diseases.

By maintaining your lawn at a taller height, you will have a lawn that requires less watering, and is more heat, insect, and disease tolerant throughout the growing season. Finally, by mowing according to the 1/3rd rule, you will also have to mow your lawn less frequently throughout the year.

As an example, when mowing your lawn at 3.0 inches, you would want to mow the lawn when it gets to 4.5 inches (removing 1.5 inches of turf is equal to 1/3rd of the lawn height at 4.5 inches), which would occur about every 7 days for most of Minnesota. But when mowing your lawn at 4.0 inches, you would want to mow the lawn when it gets to a height of 6.0 inches, which would occur about every 10-12 days.

If the lawn does get too tall for removing less than 1/3rd because of weather or other circumstances, consider mowing the lawn down in stages of mowings with a few days between for the lawn to recover.