Help for weed and seed

Six Tips for Effective Weed Control

Here are proven methods for controlling weeds in your garden

If you were to track every hour spent in your garden, you would probably find that you do an inordinate amount of weeding. And while the first few weeks of tearing up these intruders can prove mildly satisfying, the chore soon wears thin. Even more maddening—you are just six simple strategies away from your garden not needing weeds anymore.

What’s that? A garden needs weeds? Weeds are nature’s healing remedy for sites that are in a wounded, plantless state, but weeds and gardeners have different ideas of what makes for a good recovery. Armed with a better understanding of weeds and the strategies outlined here, you can win every future skirmish, giving you more time to enjoy your well-groomed garden.

1. Let sleeping weeds lie

Kill weeds at their roots but leave the soil—and dormant weed seeds—largely undisturbed. Photo: Brandi Spade

Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface, so assume weed seeds are there ready to erupt, like ants from an upset anthill, every time you open a patch of ground. Dig only when you need to and immediately salve the disturbed spot with plants or mulch.

In lawns, minimize soil disturbance by using a sharp knife with a narrow blade to slice through the roots of dandelions and other lawn weeds to sever their feed source rather than digging them out. Keep in mind that weed seeds can remain dormant for a long, long time.

2. Mulch, mulch, mulch

Don’t give weeds the chance to see the light. Whether you choose wood chips, bark nuggets, straw, or even pine needles, keep the mulch coming to smother out weeds. Photo: Michelle Gervais

Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches, in particular, can actually host crickets and carabid beetles, which seek out and devour thousands of weed seeds.

Some light passes through chunky mulches, and often you will discover—too late—that the mulch you used was laced with weed seeds. It’s important to replenish the mulch as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep (more than 3 inches deep can deprive soil of oxygen). In any case, you can set weeds way back by covering the soil’s surface with a light-blocking sheet of cardboard, newspaper, or biode­gradable fabric and then spreading prettier mulch over it.

If you choose to use this method on seldom-dug areas, such as the root zones of shrubs and trees, opt for tough landscape fabric for the light-blocking bottom sheet. There is a catch, however: As soon as enough organic matter accumulates on the landscape fabric, weed seeds dropped by birds or carried in on the wind will start to grow. For the bottom layer of fabric to be effective, these must be pulled before they sink their roots through and into the ground.

Monday: Kill weeds. Tuesday: Kill weeds …

If you’re a new gardener—or you’re working in a wild and weedy space—the first season will likely be a rough one. Commit (and stick) to a weeding schedule, and don’t take on more space than you can manage. If you have more weeds than you can handle, keep weedy areas mowed until you’re ready to conquer them.

3. Weed when the weeding’s good

Young weeds go down much easier than older ones, so make the most of good weeding conditions. Photo: Michelle Gervais

The old saying “Pull when wet; hoe when dry” is wise advice when facing down weeds. After a drenching rain, stage a rewarding weeding session by equipping yourself with gloves, a sitting pad, and a trug or tarp for collecting the corpses. As you head out the door, slip an old table fork into your back pocket because there’s nothing better for twisting out tendrils of henbit or chickweed. When going after bigger thugs, use a fishtail weeder to pry up taprooted weeds, like dandelion or dock.

Under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. In mulched beds, use an old steak knife to sever weeds from their roots, then patch any open spaces left in the mulch.

Heat is the key to composting weeds

Few experiences compare to the joy of watching weeds shrivel in the sun after a morning weeding session, but then what should you do with them? Their best resting place, of course, is a compost pile or bin, which is the end of the story if the weeds going in are free of seeds. In reality, however, a good half of the weeds you pull probably hold seeds. Separating the seedies from other weedies is impractical, so weed seeds in compost are customarily killed by raising the temperature in the heap.

Keep it hot. Running a hot heap calls for precise mixing and remixing of materials. Rather than struggle to heat up a heap that wants to run cold, I suggest waiting until a weedy heap reaches a nearly rotted state to set things right. From there, you can solarize small batches of moist compost in black plastic nursery liners that are enclosed in clear plastic bags and placed in the sun for two to three days.

Now you’re cooking. Easier than solarizing, plug in an old Crock-Pot outdoors, turn it to its lowest setting, and warm batches of compost while you sleep (three hours at 160°F kills most weed seeds).

Heat treating weedy compost destroys many of the microscopic life-forms that give compost its punch, so it’s a good idea to reprocess cooked compost for two to three weeks before using it in the garden. Place it in a plastic storage bin with a handful of earthworms borrowed from your garden and it will soon be laced with humic acids and other plant-pleasing compounds.

4. Lop off their heads

Chopping off weed heads feels good and you’ll reap short- and long-term benefits. Photo: Brandi Spade

When you can’t remove weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. With annual weeds, dead­heading buys you a few weeks of time before the weed “seed rain” begins. Cutting back the tops of perennial weeds, like bindweed, reduces reseeding and forces them to use up food reserves and exhaust their supply of root buds, thus limiting their spread.

You will need pruning loppers to take down towers of ragweed or poke, or you can step up to a string trimmer equipped with a blade attachment to cut prickly thistles or brambles down to nubs. No matter which method you choose, chopping down weeds before they go to seed will help keep them from spreading.

5. Mind the gaps between plants

Close plant spacing chokes out emerging weeds by shading the soil between plants. You can prevent weed-friendly gaps from the get-go by designing with mass plantings or in drifts of closely spaced plants rather than with polka dots of widely scattered ones. You can usually shave off about 25 percent from the recommended spacing.

Most spacing recommendations, however, are based on the assumption that adjoining plants will barely touch when they reach mature size, so stick with the guidelines when working with plants that are prone to foliar diseases, such as bee balms (Monarda didyma and cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 4–9) and phloxes (Phlox paniculata and cvs., Zones 4–8).

More on controlling weeds

6. Water the plants you want, not the weeds you’ve got

Drip irrigation is the way to go for a quick way to water your plants and not your weeds. Watering by hand works, too, but it’s often tedious. Photo: Steve Aitken

Put drought on your side by depriving weeds of water. Placing drip or soaker hoses beneath mulch efficiently irrigates plants while leaving nearby weeds thirsty. In most climates, depriving weeds of water reduces weed-seed germination by 50 to 70 percent. Watch out, though, for the appearance of deeply rooted perennial weeds, such as bindweed and nutsedge, in areas that are kept moist. They can take off in a flash when given the benefits of drip irrigation.

See also  Does seeds in weed mean its bad

Beyond these strategies, enriching your soil with organic matter every chance you get can move your garden along down the weed-free path. Soil scientists aren’t sure how it works, but fewer weed seeds germinate in soil that contains fresh infusions of good compost or organic matter. One theory makes elegantly simple sense: When soil is healthy and well fed, weed seeds sense that they are out of a job and are less likely to appear.

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Comments

I’m hoping to get my garden under control. I was thinking about laying down some weed killer, then use some landscaping fabric. Would some mulch installation be good on top of the fabric?

I find fabric just gets in the way. The weeds will root on top of the soil regardless of whether fabric is down or not. I find a good layer of mulch, 3-4 inches thick, weeding by hand, making sure to get the roots, works best. Mulch will feed the plants as it breaks down, keep the bed cool, and retain moisture when it rains.

Great tips! Another one is to mow your lawn 3” or higher. This will help provide a better environment for the
grass and a less desirable environment for weeds, resulting in a greener,
thicker lawn. http://grasshopperlawns.com/weed-control/

Thank you for the tips. The weeds in my garden seem to grow in the blink of an eye. I spend a lot of time weeding my garden, only to see weeds popping up a week later. I might need to call a weed control service.

Excellent info – but please, to be clear, the seed head illustrating #4 is Goldenrod, Not ragweed. There’s a Big difference, primarily that Goldenrod does Not produce Airborne pollen like ragweed does. And although Golden rod can and will get quite weedy, it is also a primary source of nectar for migrating monarch butterflies, so I always make sure I have plenty in my “Every-Man-For-Himself” garden. You know, the one where the tide waxes and wanes annually between the Goldenrod, the Beebalm and the Obedient plant 😉

I notice that weeds like Horsetail and Morning Glory are not mentioned in this article, their roots go so very deep (have heard horsetail root being found 36′ down) and any tiny little piece of root from either of those weeds quickly grows into a new plant with a huge root system. I don’t use weed killers, I do the digging them out thing, but I’m so tired of having to do it over and over and over every spring and summer. BTW, I cannot afford to buy and use mulch and in my temperate and usually rather wet location it usually is not needed for its other uses (keeping the soil moist and cool in summer and protected from frost in winter).

If you have autumn leaf fall in your area and cost is the big concern about mulching, I get good results from shredded leaves. They work well for several purposes: mulching, composting, and using in general to add organic matter to soil.

Great post! These interesting tips and suggestions will do good to every gardener. I did a post too on managing a garden. I hope it may be of some help here. You can read it here:

I posted a Fantastic Content About growing vegetables in your small greenhouse http://www.7growers.com/small-greenhouse/

Good point about minding the gaps. Proper placement of plants is one of the best natural weed control methods. http://www.gardenerhack.com/5-weed-control-hacks-weed-free-garden/

thanks this was very helpful and had no mention of statues.

Does 32 ounces of vinegar mixed with 1/4 ounce of soap sound like an accurate mix

There is a new solution – the Garden HotZot kills weeds with jets of hot water. It’s organic, safe, fast and easy – http://www.hotzot.biz

I’ve had a heck of a time with this spiky low pinwheel weed for the past three years at our home. I’ve spent most of my summer pulling these things out by the root (or trying to), and my poor fingers have been spiked to the nubs. Found out recently that they’re Canada thistle, and read that the most effective way of getting rid of them is to cut them off at the ground, not pull them up by the roots. If one little bit of root is left behind, it’ll grow back. But if you force the plant to regrow its leaves it’ll eventually use up all of its energy and die.

The one more thing that is not mentioned is landscape fabric. I consider it quite effective and list its advantages at my site https://gardeningadviser.com/

Wow, that’s really useful, thanks to your website for sharing this!

Hello, i have a newly made lawn in my house , the grass hasn’t fully grown yet , but there are excessive weeds growing in my lawn. I dug them up already twice but they keep on coming at a very high rate. How can i get rid of them and allow my lawn grass to grow fast? My lawn is really big, so it becomes really difficult to pull all the weed out. It grows in a hefty quantity. I’m really stressed out by this, please help me out. I can send you pics of my garden as well in yoir email.

How to Prevent Weeds From Growing

Tips on how to keep weeds out of the garden, add the right amount of mulch over weeds, and 6 mistakes to avoid to keep your garden weed-free.

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Think it’s an overstatement to call it the war against weeds? Here’s what you’re up against.

A single redroot pigweed is able to produce up to 30,000 seeds in a season. And those seeds can remain alive in the soil for 70 years waiting to sprout and overrun your perennial border at any time.

Controlling weeds is a fight you can’t win entirely because they always grow back. But you can keep weeds under control by depriving new ones of the conditions they need to take root in the first place. Let’s look at how to prevent weeds from growing.

(For those of you who already have weeds attacking your yard, read our article on How to Get Rid of Weeds.)

Weed Prevention

As with most types of prevention, discouraging weed seeds from sprouting requires some extra time now so you can save a lot of time later.

Spread Landscape fabric and cut it to fit around plants. Photo by Saxon Holt

Fertilize Enough, but Not Too Much

Too little fertilizer can lead to sparse lawn that loses the competition with weeds. Too much helps nurture certain weeds, notably annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass and crabgrass. Strike a balance by following the application rates on the package. And use a fertilizer with a high percentage of controlled-release nitrogen, such as sulfur-coated urea, ureaform or IBDU. These provide a slow, steady nutrient supply.

The frequency and timing of your fertilizing efforts are also crucial to healthy lawns. Both vary depending on your lawn type and the length of your growing season. Most northern lawns need only one or two applications of fertilizer annually—once in fall and sometimes a second time in spring. Southern grasses might require three feedings—early to mid-spring just after the grass greens up, early summer and again in early fall.

Water Grass Infrequently and Deeply

Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots and helps annual bluegrass, crabgrass, chickweed, sedges and other weed seeds germinate. If you water too little, the lawn suffers while spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, quackgrass and other weeds adapted to drier soil thrive. Instead, provide your lawn with infrequent, deep soakings. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to determine when you have applied 1 inch of water.

Can I Put Landscape Fabric Over Weeds?

Yes, you can. Synthetic landscape fabrics provide a physical barrier to weeds yet allow air, water and nutrients through to plant roots. Spread the fabric over bare soil around trees and shrubs; overlap several inches of fabric at the seams. Anchor the material with U-shaped metal pins, then conceal it with 1 to 2 in. of mulch, such as stone or bark chips.

You can also use landscape fabrics to control weeds under decks and in pathways (spread over the excavated soil base before you add gravel or sand). A 3×50-ft. roll of landscape fabric, such as the Typar shown below, costs about $10. The fabric is also available in 36-in. die-cut circles (about $3 each) for installing at the base of trees.

Photo by Saxon Holt

Smother Weeds with Mulch

Left unattended, weeds will quickly fill in unplanted areas and any open ground around plants. Mulch spread over the soil surface blocks the sunlight most annual weeds need to take hold. Weeds that do sprout are easy to pull because soil beneath mulch remains loose and moist. Coarse chipped or shredded bark is a good choice for large areas between trees and shrubs because it decomposes slowly and doesn’t easily blow away. For paths, a thick layer of sawdust provides good weed suppression because it depletes nitrogen in the soil.

How to Mulch Over Weeds
  1. After clearing a landscaped area of visible weeds, put down coarse-textured mulch up to 4 in. deep.
  2. Apply a fine-textured mulch that packs tightly, such as shredded leaves, to a depth no greater than 2 to 3 in.
  3. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunks and stems of plants to prevent disease problems.

Apply Preemergence Herbicides

Preemergence herbicides, such as those containing oryzalin or trifluralin (look on the label for these chemicals), or nontoxic corn gluten meal, kill weeds just as they germinate and will not eradicate established weeds. For a preemergence herbicide to be effective, you must apply it to soil cleared of visible weeds; also, you have to water most of these herbicides into the soil.

Check the label to determine if it is safe for use around the kinds of landscape plants you have and effective against the weeds normally present.

Deprive Weeds of Water

Weeds can’t survive without moisture. In areas with little or no summer rain, drip irrigation or soaker hoses help prevent weed seeds from sprouting by depriving them of water. These systems deliver water to the root zone of plants at the soil level. The soil surface and area surrounding the plants stays relatively dry. In contrast, overhead sprinkler systems spray water over the entire soil surface and supply both garden plants and weeds with water.

You can get in-depth information on drip irrigation from the Irrigation and Green Industry Network in the “Where to Find It” section.

Mow Higher

Mowing too low weakens turf by reducing the ability of a grass leaf to produce enough nutrients. It also lets light hit the soil surface, which helps crabgrass and goosegrass seeds sprout and grow. Check with your local extension service for the recommended range of mowing heights for your grass type. Then mow at the highest level—usually between 2 and 4 inches.

Any weeds that grow through mulch are easy to pull because the soil remains loose. Photo by Saxon Holt

6 Weeding Mistakes

In the process of trying to eliminate weeds, people often make mistakes that lead to more weeds. Here are the most common:

  1. Leaving weeds that are in flower on the ground. Even after they are pulled, weeds like chickweed and purslane can continue to develop seeds.
  2. Piling too much mulch over landscape fabric. As the mulch breaks down, it provides a perfect medium for weed growth from wind-borne seeds. You can actually have weeds rooted to the fabric. Limit mulch depth to 1 or 2 in. over landscape fabric.
  3. Applying mulch containing weed seeds. Sometimes mulches such as straw and wood chips contain weed seeds. To avoid this problem, buy from a reputable nursery that offers mulch free of weed seeds.
  4. Tossing weeds with seeds into the compost pile. A good compost pile can get hot enough (160°F) to kill weed seeds. But there are often cool spots where the seeds can survive. Those that do will be spread in your garden with the compost.
  5. Breaking apart the roots of perennial weeds as you try and dig them out. Each piece can grow into a new plant.
  6. Planting weeds along with your new shrubs and trees. Just a few nutsedge or Bermuda grass plants growing in a nursery container can spread and multiply in your garden. Make sure to remove them before planting.

This Preemergence herbicide, made from corn gluten, is nontoxic. You can safely use it near all of your vegetables as well as around ornamental plants. Photo by Saxon Holt

Where to Find It

Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
Box 1780
Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780
800/871-8158
Telescoping Crack Weeder

True Temper Hardware
Box 8859
Camp Hill, PA 17011
800/393-1846
Scuffle hoe

Drip irrigation information and supplies:

Irrigation & Green Industry Network
916C N. Formosa Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
www.igin.com
323/878-0318

Raindrip Inc.
2250 Agate Ct.
Simi Valley, CA 93065
www.raindrip.com
877/237-3747
Request the free “Drip Watering Made Easy” guide.

Denman & Co.
401 W. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92866
714/639-8106
Ball weeder

Primus
Box 186
Cherry Valley, IL 61016
815/332-5504
Weed flamer

How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds

Read our handy guide on how to restore a weedy, patchy lawn to its former glory.

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If your lawn is patchy and full of weeds, it will never be the envy of the neighborhood. What you’re after is a lush, green lawn with even grass and no dandelions poking their way through. That may sound hard to achieve, but it isn’t too difficult if you follow these steps.

If you only have a few pesky weeds punctuating your lawn, you may be able to dig them up by hand—paying careful attention to make sure you get them roots and all. But if your lawn is overrun with weeds, you may need to start from scratch. Here’s our how-to guide on restoring a lawn full of weeds.

Once your lawn is nice and green, we recommend hiring a professional lawn care company to help you maintain it to keep it weed-free. Our top recommendation goes to industry leader TruGreen.

Restoring a Lawn Full of Weeds in 10 Steps

Step 1: Identify the Weeds You Have

In order to make a successful game plan, you’ll need to know just what kind of weeds you’re dealing with. Weed treatments are designed to target specific weeds, so what may work on your broadleaf weeds may leave your grass-like weeds A-OK.

Weeds come in multiple categories, either broadleaf, grass-like, or grassy.

Broadleaf
  • Appearance: Broad, flat leaves
  • Common types: Clover, ground ivy, dandelions, chickweed
Grass-like
  • Appearance: Similar to grass, with hollow leaves in a triangular or tube shape
  • Common types: Nutsedge, wild garlic, wild onion
Grassy
  • Appearance: Resembles grass, grows one leaf at a time
  • Common types: Foxtail, annual bluegrass, quackgrass, crabgrass

Weeds can be broken down further into categories based on their life cycle—annual, biennial, or perennial.

  • Annual: Produces seeds during one season only
  • Biennial: Produces seeds during two back-to-back seasons
  • Perennial: Produces seeds over many seasons

Step 2: Select a Proper Herbicide

Next, it’s time to select the proper weed treatment based on both weed classification and the stage in their life cycle. Pre-emergent herbicides tackle weed issues before they spring up. Post-emergent herbicides target established weeds.

Keep in mind that herbicides can kill whatever plant life they come into contact with—even if the label says otherwise—so handle with care. If your aim is to re-establish your lawn, as we recommend, killing your existing, thinning grass isn’t a big deal, since you will need to start fresh anyway.

Step 3: Apply the Treatment

For this step, it’s crucial that you follow the directions to the letter. Make sure you apply the proper product at the proper time. It’s a good idea to check out the forecast beforehand, since you don’t want any storms to wash away your herbicide.

Step 4: Wait It Out

How soon you can plant seed depends on the type of weed treatment you choose. Pre-emergent herbicides will prevent grass seeds from growing just as much as weed seeds, so it would be no good to sow seeds immediately after.

Depending on the type of weed treatment you choose, you may need to wait for up to four weeks. You can ask your local garden center for information about when it’s safe to plant.

Step 5: Rake and Till

Once the weeds—and grass, if applicable—turn brown, it’s time to bust out your rake. Rake up as much of the weeds as you can. Use your tilling fork to pull any extra weeds out and till the soil to prepare it for your amendments and seed.

Step 6: Dethatch and Aerate

Aerating your lawn can help break up thatch, the layer of decomposing organic matter between your lawn’s soil and grass blades. Thatch can be beneficial, since it can make your lawn more resilient and provide insulation from extreme temperatures and changes in soil moisture. But if it gets over a half-inch in thickness, it can cause root damage, including root rot.

Your raking and tilling from the previous step can help with dethatching, but you can also use a dethatching rake if the layer is too excessive.

Aeration improves your grassroots’ access to air, nutrients, and water. Use a spike or core aerator to break up the soil. If you use a core aerator, be sure to make two to three passes in different directions. Allow the plugs of soil you remove to decompose on top of your soil layer rather than remove them.

Step 7: Amend the Soil

Now, you can apply your soil amendment to ready your soil for the grass seed or sod.

Step 8: Lay Down Seed or Sod

You have a choice ahead of you. Do you want to lay down seed or sod? There are pros and cons to each.

  • Pros: Less expensive, more variety
  • Cons: Takes longer to germinate, can only lay at certain times of year depending on grass type
  • Pros: Instant grass, can lay any time of year, requires little maintenance
  • Cons: More costly, less variety in grass can mean less healthy lawn overall

To prepare the soil after either method, make sure you till it down to roughly 6 to 8 inches.

Laying seed

First, you need to choose the right type of seed for your lawn. That will depend on the region you live in—one that needs cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, or a transition zone that allows more flexibility. After you determine which category you need, you can select specific grasses that may have attributes you’re after, like heat- or drought-resistance.

To seed your lawn, lay down approximately 1 inch of topsoil, then use a spreader to apply the seed to the soil.

We recommend using two different types of spreaders. For the majority of the work, you should use a broadcast spreader because they distribute seed evenly, allowing for thorough coverage. But you’ll want to use a drop spreader around the edges of garden beds to make sure you don’t inadvertently drop seed into them.

Always set the spreader to half the recommended drop rate and spread the seed in one direction, then one or two more in different directions to make sure the coverage is nice and even. You don’t want your lawn to have weird patterns or stripes.

Applying the right amount of seed is key. As a general rule of thumb, apply roughly 15 seeds per each square inch, then rake over the seed.

Top the seed with top dressing no greater than ¼ inch thick.

Then, it’s time to add starter fertilizer. Your best bet is to use a starter fertilizer high in phosphorus. However, due to concerns about water pollution, many states prohibit the use of phosphorus in fertilizers. Some states may allow phosphorus in fertilizers for establishing new lawns. If so, you’ll find fertilizers labeled “new lawn” or “starter fertilizer.”

Step 9: Water Your Lawn

Deep, infrequent watering can help establish your lawn by allowing it to grow deep roots, which can compete against weeds. Try to water your lawn about twice a week, in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Lawns typically need about 1.5 inches of water per week, but that could vary based on the climate you live in and the type of grass seed you chose.

Step 10: Maintain Your Lawn

Proper maintenance is critical if you want your newly established lawn to stay weed-free. Mow at either the highest or second-highest setting. Vigorous grass won’t be choked out by weeds. Fertilize your lawn as needed to help it thrive.

3 Reasons Your Lawn Is Full of Weeds

Starting out, you probably want to know just why weeds have overtaken your grass, so you can prevent it from happening again.

  • Poor grass growth: Weeds thrive in thinning grass. The best way to keep weeds out is to have thick, tall, dense grass all over your lawn. If your grass is cut too short, it’s more susceptible to a full-on weed invasion. Setting your mower to the highest setting can help with this.
  • Not enough water: Weeds tend to have robust root systems, and can easily compete with your grass for moisture. If you are not watering your grass enough, the weeds can absorb what water there is, taking it away from your grassroots.
  • Compacted soil: If your soil becomes too compacted, whether from excessive foot traffic or poor soil composition, your grassroots won’t have access to the nutrients, water, or air they need. This stressed turf makes for an exceptional weed breeding ground.

Professional Lawn Care

Once you’ve put in all that hard work, you’ll want to keep up with it. The prospect of regular lawn maintenance can be daunting, from fertilization to aeration to yet more weed control. Hiring a professional lawn care company like TruGreen can alleviate those concerns.

TruGreen offers five different annual plans for your lawn care needs, offering a range of services. Plans come with the TruGreen Healthy Lawn Guarantee®, promising full-program customers that a TruGreen specialist will return to your home as many times necessary to resolve your issues.

Our Rating Methodology

To provide readers with the most objective, accurate, and detailed recommendations, the This Old House Reviews Team continually researches lawn care service companies on the market. We take the following steps to obtain up-to-date information about the industry and each company we review:

  • Analyze more than 100 customer reviews from third-party review sites, such as Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Google Reviews, for each company
  • Secret-shop for lawn care plans and packages to get a sense of cost, offered services, and the overall shopping experience for prospective customers
  • Speak with representatives on the phone to simulate the customer service experience from each provider
  • Update information on a regular basis to ensure the most accurate information when plans or services change with each company

We use the data from our research to build an in-depth rating system that allows us to score lawn care providers on a 100-point scale. Here are the factors in our evaluation and their designated scores:

  • Plan options (30): As one of the most important factors for homeowners shopping for a lawn care service, this one is weighted heavily based on each company’s lawn coverage. Companies that offer more options, such as irrigation, weed control, seeding, and aeration services in addition to a general plan, score higher than others.
  • Trustworthiness (30): Each company’s reputation is another significant factor for homeowners to consider before signing up for a plan. We scored providers based on their BBB score, accreditation, and offered guarantees available with each purchase.
  • Additional Benefits (20): We gave extra points to companies that provide a few additional services and benefits with their offered plans, such as organic treatments, pest control services, and a mobile app for digital communication and plan management.
  • Customer Service (10): In this rating category, we awarded points to customer-focused lawn care service providers who offer weekend availability and easy communication through phones, online chats, and online resources.
  • Availability (10): We also scored companies based on their overall availability, rewarding those that are nationally available over local companies only operating in select cities or ZIP codes.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at [email protected].