Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
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 quickly.
- Weeds sprout from existing seeds or root systems in the soil. Dormant root systems store a lot of energy, enhancing weeds’ fast growth 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 must first cultivate an understanding of weeds. This piece seems closely at weed growth patterns and how to prevent 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, keeping an eye on your lawn and getting rid of weeds early on in their rotation is crucial. 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 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 come from many sources and lay dormant in the soil for long periods before sprouting. When fully grown, weeds produce and disperse for 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 the dispersion of seeds. Perennial weeds include thistle, dandelion, and ground ivy.
Annual weeds grow faster than grass.
These weeds grow for a season and then die off at the end of their cycle. They are spread by 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; 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
The compaction of land causes weeds to grow faster than grass
The soil needs to be beneficial for your lawn to have healthy grass. Healthy soil promotes the growth and development of roots.
If your soil becomes compacted, it strains your grass turf tremendously and doesn’t allow water, oxygen, and other nutrients to penetrate the soil.
Weeds such as crabgrass have adapted to thrive in compacted soil and will gradually fill the bare patches in your lawn.
Weeds grow faster than grass on a thinning lawn.
Not only is a thinned-out lawn unappealing, but it also attracts weeds. Weeds thrive in thin bare spots on your lawn because they aren’t competing for resources, unlike healthy turf.
Seeds must compete for sunlight and other essential nutrients on a healthy turf.
If you have 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 approach can facilitate weed growth rather than discourage it. For example, mowing your grass too short or scalping edges along the driveway and walkways creates favorable weed growth conditions.
In the video below, I show you how to deal with persistent weeds that may be causing you issues in your garden.
Insufficient watering leads to weeds growing faster than grass
A healthy lawn needs sufficient water to defend itself from weeds. Unfortunately, if your property isn’t receiving at least one to two inches of water or rain weekly, the dryness will likely encourage weeds’ growth.
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 condensation.
Naturally, healthy soil supports beneficial microorganisms necessary for your grass to absorb nutrients from the soil.
The poor health of the 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 the low-water areas. Weeds can thrive without a constant water supply because they are well-adapted.
How to Prevent Weeds from Growing Faster than Grass on Your Lawn
You can easily manage weeds such as foxtail and crabgrass during spring. This is 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 bare or thin patches early in the fall of every year to thicken the turf. Overseeding also helps eliminate 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 improve it 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 weeds from sprouting is three and a half inches long. Longer grass, preferably three inches, shades the soil, prevents sunlight from reaching weeds, and stunts weed growth.
Rather than mowing your lawn every week, only trim it when needed.
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 must be watered for one to one and a half hours twice weekly using a drip or soaker hose. Using hose-end sprinklers allows 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, avoiding overwatering your lawn is essential, which will loosen up the soil and create a breeding ground for weeds.
Aerating your lawn yearly improves 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 properly circulating water, air, nutrients, and healthy microorganisms that improve the soil’s 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 removing 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 remove 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 very effective. Two or three applications may be required for perennial weeds with long roots to ensure they stop growing back. After that, pour hot water over the crown of each weed you want to get rid of.
Table salt is a 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, which 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. In turn, they will help control weeds and allow the grass to grow. If you choose this method, it is important not to overdo adding salt to the garden.
Prevent weeds from growing faster than grass through Herbicidal soap
Make a DIY soap mixture using herbicidal soap 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 removes anything plant it touches.
A 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 poison ivy or other poisonous plants because if it bursts, they will spew poison into the air jeopardizing your safety.
In some instances, weeds do have practical purposes. However, keeping a close eye on the weeds on your lawn is essential. They can take over your yard in a few days if not controlled.
The above information offers a better understanding of weeds to help you control and eliminate them and ensure your property remains well-groomed.
FAQs on Why Do Weeds Grow Faster Than Grass? (Solved)
Why are weeds so strong?
Weeds are stronger than ornamental plants as they have a more robust root system. They utilize chemicals that can kill neighboring plants, which creates spaces allowing for easier uptake of nutrients, water, and energy from the sun.
Is Pulling weeds a waste of time?
Pulling weeds is not a waste of time. It is necessary to grow more desirable plants. They say seven years’ worth of weed seeds are in the soil. You compound the issue by not pulling the weeds as they germinate and allowing them to seed again. It is hard work but worth the effort.
Do weeds like the sun?
All plants require three things: water, food, and sunlight. The sun allows plants to photosynthesize, and weeds are no exception. They need sunlight to compete and grow just like any other plant. The more sun weeds get, the stronger the root system and the weed.
At what temp do weeds stop growing?
Weeds stop growing at 42.5˚F or 6.5˚C, but growth is slowed drastically at 53.2˚F or 11.7˚C. As the temperatures drop to this level, the plant starts to shut down its metabolism and stops taking up nutrients and water. As a result, the weeds effectively go into dormancy.
Conclusion on why weeds grow faster than grass
Weeds grow faster than grass due to their short life cycle and ability to sprout from existing seeds already embedded in the soil. The ecosystem also further boosts its growth due to its being native.
To combat the growth of pesky weeds, try the listed methods above to stint their development and have a healthier lawn.
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