A Homeowner's Guide To Lawn Weeds In Nebraska

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Spring is almost upon us, and with it comes the dreaded weeds that can turn a lush, healthy lawn into an unsightly mess. If you're a homeowner in Nebraska, you've likely experienced your fair share of weed problems over the years. At Summit Lawns, we understand how frustrating it can be to have to manage these pesky plants that take away from the beauty of your landscape. That's why we’ve put together this guide to help you better understand lawn weeds in Nebraska so that you can keep them under control!

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What Are Lawn Weeds?

identifying goosegrass

Lawn weeds are any plant species that grow where they’re not wanted or desired. They spread quickly and compete with your lawn for moisture, nutrients, and other resources, making it difficult to establish and maintain healthy turf. Weeds are also an eyesore in your landscape, detracting from the overall beauty of your property. Most types of weeds grow and spread more aggressively than healthy grass, creating an undernourished lawn if you do not know how to properly identify and control the various types of weeds you are likely to encounter. Without proper lawn maintenance throughout the year, your grass will likely fall victim to these nutrient-thieves at some point, which means your lawn will slowly starve, become dehydrated, and wither away.

What Do Lawn Weeds Look Like?

What does Bluegrass look like

Lawn weeds come in all shapes and sizes and can look similar to the desired grasses that you’re trying to cultivate. Certain types of weeds are almost indistinguishable from turfgrass, while other types have much more prominent features, such as bright flowers or thorns, that can make them easier to identify. Nonetheless, there are some key characteristics you can look for in your lawn and yard to help you determine whether you are in the midst of a weed invasion!

Look For These In Your Lawn:

  • Quicker, taller growth than surrounding grass
  • Brighter or odd-colored grass that breaks uniformity
  • Thicker patches of grass surrounded by thinner areas
  • Velvety/fuzzy texture on leaves
  • Grass blades shaped differently (rolled, pointed, etc.)
  • Seed heads emerging unexpectedly
  • Flowering weeds with bright petals
  • Deeper taproots, invasive fibrous roots, or a combination

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, some 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

crabgrass bunch growth

Grassy weeds are the more difficult weeds to spot in your lawn because they often mimic healthy turfgrass. You can usually differentiate grassy weeds by their taller, faster, and often more vibrant growth. Even if the leaf (grass blade) shape is identical to the grass in your lawn, you can usually identify patches where these undesirable plants are thriving by spotting subtle differences in their habits. Most grassy weeds grow in a bunching manner and tend to have shallow, fibrous roots that steal away all available moisture and nutrients for themselves, leaving little resources left for your lawn. 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. 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 Nebraska:

  • Crabgrass
  • Goosegrasss
  • Barnyardgrass
  • Annual Bluegrass

Broadleaf Weeds

Broadleaf weeds are identifiable by their famously thick and wide leaves (hence the name) that vary in color from the surrounding plants in your yard. 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 Nebraska:

  • Canada Thistle
  • Musk Thistle
  • Field Bindweed
  • Dandelion

Where Do Weeds Come From?

dandelion weed control

Weeds can come from a variety of sources, but they mainly spread through root growth 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.

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 invasion. Below are some of the most common causes of lawn weeds:

  • 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 promotes the germination of weed seedlings. 
  • Inadequate Mowing: Mowing too low or infrequently can weaken grasses, allowing weeds to take hold.
  • Improper Fertilization: Fertilizer helps promote healthy grass growth, but too much or not enough nitrogen is an 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

Image Of Summit Lawns Sign In Front Of A Home

Removing lawn weeds from your property can sometimes be as easy as pulling up or digging out the roots of the weed. However, these methods do not always produce the surefire results that many homeowners expect because even the smallest fragment of roots left in the soil could sprout a new weedy plant, making all your efforts and hard work meaningless. Pre-emergent and chemical weed killers can be effective, but you run the risk of killing off swaths of your lawn if you do not know how to properly apply them.

Of course, there are things you can and should be doing for your lawn throughout the year to deter weeds from ever germinating in the first place. Consider the tips below while you are tending to your lawn this season:

  • Mow weekly, and set blade height to 3-4 inches to choke out weeds.
  • Water your lawn deeply and infrequently to reach turfgrass roots.
  • Use a season-appropriate fertilizer, and monitor nitrogen levels.
  • Test soil regularly, and balance pH level when necessary.
  • Apply a pre-emergent in spring to prevent weeds from growing.
  • Call Summit Lawns for the best weed control services in Lincoln, Nebraska!