Why Do Weeds Grow Faster Than Grass? (Solved)


Do you spend an excessive amount of time removing weeds from your lawn? Surprisingly, weeds seem to grow overnight, and at first, tearing up these intruders is satisfying, but soon the chore wears thin. Weeds can turn your beautiful, well-groomed lawn or garden into chaos overnight. A better understanding of weeds can better help you control weeds.

Weeds tend to grow faster than grass in your lawn or garden because:

  • Most weeds have a short life cycle ranging between 5-6 weeks. Thus, they cover their life cycle from seedling to flowering in a short time.
  • Weeds sprout from existing seeds or root systems in the soil. Dormant root systems store a lot of energy which enhances the fast growth of weeds in spring.
  • Weeds are often native plants in the ecosystem they thrive in, which further facilitates their growth compared to grass and other desirable plants which may not be native.

Property owners looking to control, manage or get rid of weeds need first to cultivate an understanding of weeds. In this piece, we take a closer look at weed growth patterns and how best to control them. Read on to learn more.

How Fast Can Weeds Grow compared to Grass?

Weeds have a concise life cycle that ranges between 5-6 weeks. Over this period, weeds germinate, flower, seed then die. Due to their short life cycle, it is crucial to keep an eye on your lawn and get rid of weeds early on in their rotation. In the right conditions, weeds can grow up to two to three inches in 24 hours.

You are probably wondering if weeds growing overnight is just a myth? With a combination of warm weather and rain, weeds can increase by about one to two inches overnight. As a result, you can likely go to bed with weeds seemingly under control, only to wake up to flourishing weeds.

What Causes Weeds to Grow So Fast as Compared to Grass?

Weeds are opportunistic plants that grow when the conditions are favorable. Favorable conditions that support weed growth include moisture levels, temperature, and turf coverage. Weed seeds tend to come from many sources and lay dormant in the soil for long periods before sprouting. When fully grown, weeds produce and disperse thousands of seasons.

Three types of weeds that grow faster than grass

Perennial weeds outgrow grass

These weeds can grow for several seasons. They spread through their root system and dispersion of seeds. Perennial weeds include thistle, dandelion, and ground ivy.

Annual weeds grow faster than grass

These types of weeds grow for a season then die off on their own at the end of their cycle. They are spread through setting seeds and germinating. Annual weeds include oxalis, chickweed, groundsel, and bittercress.

Biennial weeds sprout faster than grass

These weeds have a two-year life cycle. During their first year, they sprout and produce a leafy plant, then in the next year, it flowers and produces seeds. They include wild carrots, prickly lettuce, and clover.

Conditions that are allowing weeds to grow on your lawn faster than the grass

Compaction of land causes weeds to grow faster than grass

For your lawn to have healthy grass, the soil needs to be beneficial as well. Healthy soil promotes the growth and development of roots. If your soil becomes compacted, it puts a tremendous strain on your grass turf and doesn’t allow water, oxygen, and other nutrients to penetrate the soil. Weeds such as crabgrass have adapted to thriving in compacted soil and will gradually fill the bare patches in your lawn.

Weeds grow faster than grass in a thinning lawn

Not only is a thinned-out lawn unappealing, but it also attracts weed. Weeds tend to thrive in thin bare spots on your lawn because they aren’t competing for resources, unlike on a healthy turf. On a healthy turf, weeds need to compete for sunlight and other essential nutrients.

If you ever wondered how grass-thins allow this process, I wrote an article about what happens to grass if you don’t mow it. This will show you how weeds take over and grow faster than grass. You can view that article here.

Insufficient sunlight makes weeds grow faster than grass

Grass needs about five to seven hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive. Some weeds, however, are adapted to growing in shady conditions. As a result, weeds such as wild violets and ground ivy can quickly pop up in shaded areas and take over your lawn.

Weeds grow faster than grass due to poor mowing techniques

Shocking as it may sound, your mowing technique can facilitate weed growth rather than discouraging it. For example, mowing your grass too short or scalping edges along the driveway and walkways creates favorable conditions for weeds to grow.

In the video below, I show you how to deal with persistent weeds that maybe causing you issues in your garden.

Insufficient watering lead to weeds growing faster than grass

A healthy lawn needs a sufficient amount of water to defend itself from weeds. Unfortunately, if your property isn’t receiving at least one to two inches of water or rain weekly, then the dryness is likely encouraging the growth of weeds.

When the soil isn’t healthy, weeds grow faster than grass

We have already mentioned compaction. However, there is more to the health of your soil beyond compaction. Naturally, healthy soil supports beneficial microorganisms necessary for your grass to absorb nutrients from the soil. The poor health of soil may be caused by inadequate fertilization throughout the year.

How Do Weeds Grow faster than Grass Without Water?

The species of weed found in different regions vary and are well adapted to their local climate. It is for this reason that weeds also grow in low water regions. Weeds can thrive without a constant supply of water because they are well adapted.

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing faster than Grass in Your Lawn

You can easily manage weeds such as foxtail and crabgrass during spring. This when the seeds and seedlings are most vulnerable and help avoid having a full-blown weed problem in summer.

Maintain a dense lawn to prevent weeds from growing faster than grass

A thick, dense turf helps crowd out the weeds. In addition, the turf essentially blocks the sunlight from reaching the weeds causing them to die off when they are young before becoming a problem. Seed any bare or thin patches early in the fall of every year to thicken the turf. Overseeding also helps get rid of the possibility of bare patches on your lawn.

Slow down weeds from growing faster than grass by regularly fertilizing your lawn

Fertilizing your lawn dramatically improves the quality of the soil. Organic fertilization introduces beneficial microorganisms to the soil, such as bacteria and fungi, which help the grass absorb nutrients in the soil better. This practice helps strengthen your lawn and equip it better to fight against pests and diseases that may cause grass thinning.

Improve your mowing technique to limit weeds from growing faster than grass in your lawn

Regularly mow your lawn and keep the grass blades high throughout the year. The recommended length for grass that discourages weed from sprouting is between three and three and a half inches long. Longer grass, preferably at three inches, shades the soil and prevents sunlight from reaching weeds, stunts weed growth.

Rather than mowing your lawn every week, only trim it when there is a need. For example, avoid scalping grass near walkways, driveways, and patios with a trimmer or weed wacker. If the edges are too short, they die off, resulting in grass thinning around these areas and creating bare patches that encourage the growth of weeds.

Water your lawn correctly to stop weeds from growing faster than grass

Your lawn needs to be watered for one to one and a half hours twice every week using a drip or soaker hose. If you are using hose-end sprinklers, allow the water to run for four hours in every zone. Proper watering strengthens and deepens your grassroots which in turn helps you have a healthy lawn.

On the other hand, it is essential to avoid overwatering your lawn, too; This will loosen up the soil and create a breeding ground for weeds.

Aerating your lawn yearly leads to better soil health and prevents weeds from growing faster than grass.

Core aeration helps get rid of compaction. It would be best if you did it preferably every year. Aeration allows for the proper circulation of water, air, nutrients, and healthy microorganisms that improve the soil’s overall health. It also helps grass strengthen its root system creating stronger grass.

To prevent weeds from growing faster than grass, use lime to improve soil PH.

Improving the soil PH to a good level of about 6.3-6.5 increases the availability of nutrients in the soil, making them more readily accessible to the grass.

Ensure your lawn receives sufficient sunlight to hinder weeds from growing faster than grass

Ensuring your lawn has access to direct sunlight helps destroy weeds that thrive in the shade. A great way to avail your property of more sunlight would be to prune the trees or, in extreme circumstances, remove them. This will allow the grass to thrive and choke out the weeds.

Pulling them out by hand is a sure way to stop weeds from growing faster than grass

If the weeds aren’t too many, the old-fashioned method of getting rid of them is pretty compelling. Using a pair of gardening gloves and a claw or trowel, slowly loosen the roots and pull out the weed. Ensure you properly get rid of the uprooted weeds to avoid spreading their seeds all over the lawn. This method ensures the weeds do not return.

Cornmeal keeps weed seeds from growing faster than grass

Cornmeal gluten is effective in stunting the sprouting of seeds. Sprinkle it in areas where weeds are prevalent after pulling them out. However, corn gluten meal keeps any seeds from germinating, so be very careful about where you choose to sprinkle it.

To stop weeds from growing faster than grass, pour boiling water over them.

Pouring boiling water over pesky weeds sounds harsh, but it is very effective. For perennial weeds that tend to have long roots, two or three applications may be required to ensure they stop growing back. After that, pour hot water over the crown of each specific weed you want to get rid of.

Table salt is sure way to stop weeds from growing faster than grass

A pinch of regular table salt effectively destroys weeds. Put the salt at the base of the plant, and it will kill the weed. However, salt can render soil uninhabitable for beneficial microorganisms and plants, so use just a tiny amount where it is needed. Avoid putting it on the surrounding grass turf.

Microorganisms are the lifeblood of your soil. Without them, your soil cannot support plants. They, in turn, will help to control weeds and allow the grass to grow. It is so important not to overdo adding salt to the garden if you choose this method.

Prevent weeds from growing faster than grass through Herbicidal soap

Using herbicidal soap, make a DIY soap mixture by mixing equal parts salt, vinegar, and dish soap. Using a spray bottle, spray this mixture onto persistent weeds. Be careful when using this mixture as it gets rid of anything plant it touches.

Weed torch is another way of stopping weeds from growing faster than grass.

A weed torch is also another effective way to get rid of weeds. The device heats the water within the plant’s cells, turns it into steam, and the cell bursts. The plant will automatically die. Simply wilting the weeds is enough. You do not need to char it to ashes. It may take some practice to get the hang of it. Avoid plants such as poison ivy or other poisonous plants because it bursts, it will spew poison into the air jeopardizing your safety.

In some instances, weeds do have practical purposes. However, it is essential to keep a close eye on the weeds on your lawn. In a matter of days, they can take over your yard if not controlled. The above information offers you a better understanding of weeds to help you better control and get rid of them to ensure your property remains well-groomed.

FAQ’s about weeds

Conclusion on why weeds grow faster than grass

Weeds grow faster than grass due to their rather short life cycle and their ability to spout from existing seeds already embedded in the soil. The ecosystem too further boosts its growth due to it being a native.

To combat the growth of pesky weeds, be sure to try the listed methods above to stint their growth and to have a healthier lawn. Also, check this article on Late-Season Weed Management to Stop Viable Weed Seed Production for another deep read on stopping this weed growth.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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