Walt Whitman once wrote about weeds as “plants whose virtues have yet to be discovered.” We’re pretty sure that most Nashville residents are still waiting for those virtues to be uncovered. Crabgrass tops the list of lawn complaints, while dandelions have both admirers and detractors.
Weed control is a lawn maintenance issue that affects all homeowners, and many of those homeowners want what seems to be an impossibility.
Homeowners often want to control weeds but not use chemicals. At the Parke Company, our 30 years of experience delivering superior landscaping services to the Nashville community tells us that a “natural” solution is possible.
The problem, of course, is that a natural solution takes time, possibly years. In an age of pre-emergent herbicides, few homeowners want to pursue a far slower strategy. But that may be changing. Where there is a consumer need that is not being met, entrepreneurs smell opportunity. That may be at play here when it comes to controlling crabgrass.
Crabgrass – Super Weed?
The best defense against crabgrass, or any weed, is a thick, healthy lawn that chokes out weeds before they can gain purchase. For crabgrass that means a healthy, thick lawn, and soil with the proper pH balance (7.0-7.5). Perennial ryegrass is the best competition for crabgrass. It also provides some insect control, as it emits a natural poison that gives some pesky bugs a lethal dose of natural insecticide.
And now, Iowa State University has studied an all-natural material that has amazing crabgrass stopping powers. Corn gluten meal, a product of milling corn, turns out to be a highly effective herbicide. Some manufacturers are adding potash and nitrogen to the meal to give the soil a boost as well. A systematic application of corn gluten meal results in 60% reduction in weeds of all kinds the first year, 80% the second year, and a weed free lawn the third.
Pretty powerful stuff.
Dandelions – Exotic Flowers?
When Walt Whitman was musing about weeds, he probably wasn’t including dandelions in that class of vegetation. The fact is, dandelions were intentionally imported to North America in the 1700s by colonists from Europe. Back then, they enjoyed a much better reputation and had a higher level of appreciation.
If you examine the “virtues” of a dandelion compared to crabgrass or chickweed, dandelions look downright attractive. Consider the following:
- Dandelions make a tasty wine
- They can be dried, ground, and used as a substitute for coffee
- Young dandelion leaves are used in salad
- They are a natural source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin A
- They are a natural diuretic
Still not buying it? Then get a weed fork and cut these rascals out of the lawn. Make sure you get the root, which can grow to 5 feet long. A dandelion has a two-year life cycle and you have to get rid of it before the end of the cycle. That’s when the flower is replaced with the fluffy white bloom that spreads seeds on the wind.
To prevent the growth of dandelions, fertilizing in the spring and fall are the best defense. Again, the thicker the grass, the less opportunity for weeds of any kind to thrive.
Contact The Parke Company
Another option, of course, is to let us take care of the issue. We provide a full line of lawn services including lawn mowing, shrub pruning, and tree trimming. Contact us today and let’s plan your “weed abatement” strategy together.