Lush Green Yard Care Blog

A Homeowner’s Guide To Lawn Weeds In Colorado

Maintaining a lush, beautiful lawn in the Grand Junction area can sometimes be challenging, and that task gets a lot harder when lawn weeds start popping up all across your property. If this is a problem that sounds all too familiar, we hear you, and we are here to help! Lush Green Services has been combating lawn weeds in Colorado over the last 20 years, and we are just getting started. Now, we want to pass that knowledge and experience onto our neighbors! Let’s dig in!

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What Are Lawn Weeds?

crabgrass bunch growth

Weeds are unwanted plants that grow in gardens, lawns, and other cultivated areas. When they are allowed to grow in you lawn, they compete with your desired turfgrass for nutrients and water. The invasive nature of weeds often means that their complex and shallow root systems will steal nutrients and water in the soil before they can even reach the root zone of your healthy grass. This includes any fertilizers you apply, meaning that lawns overrun with weeds may actually get worse from improperly fertilizing your grass. Most types of weeds grow and spread more aggressively than healthy grass, which will create an undernourished lawn if you do not know how to properly identify and control the various types of weeds you are likely to encounter.

What Do Lawn Weeds Look Like?

Dandelion overhead

Some lawn weeds look very similar to the grass that naturally grows in your lawn, so it can be difficult to identify them. Other lawn weeds have characteristics that stand out and are easily noticeable, but they are unsightly among the healthy grass blades. Either way, there are some hints you can always look for in your lawn to know if you are dealing with a weed invasion. In general, look for any areas of your lawn that are patchy or uneven, or look for leaves that differ from the grass blades you are used to seeing.

Key Characteristics:

  • Brighter or different-colored leaves than surrounding grass
  • Differently shaped leaves than grass (rolled, flat, etc.)
  • Taller growth than the rest of your lawn
  • Faster growth compared to surrounding plants
  • Flowers or seed heads growing at times when they shouldn’t
  • Flowering petals with brighter colors or unusual patterns
  • Invasive roots that are shallow or deep and complex
  • An unfamiliar odor emanating from certain weeds

Types Of Lawn Weeds

Researchers believe there to be approximately 8,000 different species of weeds across the world. Fortunately, the amount and types of weeds that are likely to appear in your Colorado lawn are not nearly as intimidating. Weeds found in residential lawns do not grow as tall or look as menacing as many wild weeds found in open fields. Generally speaking, there are 2 main types of weeds you need to be concerned about: grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds.

Grassy Weeds

identifying goosegrass

Weeds in this category are similar to, and often confused for, healthy turfgrass. In fact, some grassy weeds are just regular grasses that could be used as turfgrass. It is when these plants find themselves where they don’t belong that they become a problem. Warm-season grasses finding their way into a cool-season lawn (and vice versa) will damage the existing grass. Grassy weeds often produce seed heads that will pop up when the weed is tall and mature, which is a strong indicator of weeds in your lawn. Look out for bunches and clumps of odd-looking grass, as these are the growing habits of grassy weeds. Seed dispersal is the main way that annual grassy weeds spread their invasion across your lawn, or even from one lawn to another.

Common Grassy Weeds In Colorado:

  • Annual Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Creeping Bentgrass
  • Crabgrass
  • Goosegrass

Broadleaf Weeds

identifying purslane

As the name suggests, these weeds are wider and more flat than grassy weeds. Characteristics of broadleaf weeds can vary greatly, but they tend to have a larger leaf blade with one or many veins visible across them. Most broadleaf weeds have flowers that come out during the summer months, which are usually the clearest indicators of a broadleaf weed invasion. Weeds in this category spread largely by seed dispersal after flowers mature into seed heads, as well as their root systems by sending off runners or rhizomes above and/or below ground. Because of how prolifically broadleaf weeds spread, it is important to identify and remove these weeds from your lawn quickly!

Common Broadleaf Weeds In Colorado:

  • Dandelion
  • Lamb’s Quarters
  • Bindweed
  • Purslane
  • Kochia

Where Do Weeds Come From?

goosegrass seedhead

Weeds can come from a variety of sources, such as wind, water, animals, contaminated soil, etc. Some weeds are even spread by people themselves through activities like gardening or landscaping work. Weeds that produce a seed head often disperse their seeds whenever they are physically contacted, or even if there is just a particularly strong gust of wind. This is often how weeds find their way into an otherwise-healthy lawn or garden. Once established, many weeds can also spread via runners and underground rhizomes that expand their invasive roots. 

Any type of weed will need certain conditions present in order to thrive, just like any other plant. Unfortunately, weeds are such a nuisance because they are often capable of surviving conditions that would kill healthy grass or plants, such as poor soil quality or extreme weather conditions. Weeds tend to seek out poorly performing lawns to ravage, so be aware of the following conditions that could lead to a weed invasion in your yard:

  • 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, once again, encourages weed seed germination.
  • 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 Control Lawn Weeds

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Removing lawn weeds after they emerge is tricky, as the weeds are usually quite established and difficult to fully remove at that point. For already-existing lawn weeds, post-emergent herbicides may be necessary depending on the size of the invasion. Spot treatments are often recommended for large numbers of small weeds, but spraying or applying too much weed killer could severely damage your lawn. If you are unsure of the type of weed you’re dealing with or how to control the problem, we strongly recommend you call a weed control professional like Lush Green Services. We have everything you and your lawn need to get your yard care maintenance back on track this season! Keep the following tips in mind when you tend to your lawn this year:

  • Mow weekly, and set blade height to 3-4 inches to choke out weeds.
  • Perform core aeration in spring and fall to improve soil quality.
  • Water your lawn deeply and infrequently to reach turfgrass roots.
  • Use a season-appropriate fertilizer, and monitor nitrogen levels.
  • Apply mulch around gardens and other areas to block weed growth.
  • Test soil regularly, and balance pH level when necessary.
  • Apply a pre-emergent in spring to prevent weeds from growing.
  • Call Lush Green Services to prevent and remove weeds in your lawn!
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