Garden Solutions Center Ask the Expert

Got a question? Ask and find your answer right here.


Hello, I live in an agricultural area that has livestock eat close to my house also my cars play outside and sit in the grass and eat it… Also we have well water system. How can I get rid of all these types of weeds that grow and also have a lush green colored lawn … That won’t harm the animals and our drinking water… It’s spring now … What should I start with and what else do I need until fall! Step by step … Thank you!


1 answer

  1. The best, most effective, environmentally-friendly and animal-safe way to reduce weeds in any lawn is to maintain a healthy turf: mow tall and often, water deeply, aerating regularly (once in fall, and once in spring if needed) and give grass the feeding it needs. Mowing frequently also deters annual weeds as most are vulnerable near the plant's top.

    - Mowing high puts much less stress on your lawn, promotes deep roots and helps reduce moisture loss. A good rule of thumb is to never remove more than one-third of the blade length at a time, and to mow the grass at your highest setting. (About 2 1/2 to 3 inches is best for most turfgrasses.) Make sure your lawnmower blades are sharp.

    - Give your lawn an energy lift by topping it with a thin 1/4 inch layer of compost or other organic matter. The organic mulch will feed soil critters, which in turn will feed the plants by transforming the compost into a plant-friendly fertilizer in just the right spring doses. Organic matter also helps to create a well-balanced soil rich in beneficial microbes, which helps reduce plant stress and disease. Good sources of organic matter include compost, aged manure, and grass clippings. Either spread a thin layer (one-half inch or less) of compost or aged manure as a top-dressing on your grass once or twice a year in spring or fall, or simply leave grass clippings on the lawn when you mow.

    - Aerating the soil beneath your turf allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil and reach grass roots. You can do this with a manual core type aerator, or rent a power aerator for tackling large areas.

    - Use a natural slow-release fertilizer with an NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio suited to the nutritional needs of your lawn, such as 3-1-2, 5-2-4, or 7-3-4. Fertilize cool-season grasses in early spring and fall; fertilize warm-season grasses in late spring and early fall.

    - Deep and infrequent watering is best for an established lawn. This will encourage a deeper root system. About one inch of water a week during active growth is a good guideline.

    - As for non-toxic weed control, corn gluten meal (CGM) is a protein-based, organic herbicide that prevents root formation in germinating seeds. It is a pre-emergent and therefore must be applied before weed seeds germinate to be effective. Otherwise, avoid the "weed and feed" products. For the safety of your pets and animals, opt for the least-toxic product you can find, which lists "Caution" on the label as opposed to "Warning" or "Danger". Don't treat the entire lawn. Instead do spot applications of the herbicide early in the season while the weeds are still small. Good luck!

Ask the Expert

Recent Activities