Weeds are pesky. They grow quickly and can be tough as nails to remove and dissipate from lawns. When you let your grass go to seed, you're actually letting weeds grow, eliminating any control you had over them. Mowing frequently cuts the weeds down and weakens them in their ability to grow back. Letting them rise high and proud in your yard will ensure your grass will be filled with more broadleaf weeds and creeping Charlie than ever.
While you may think lawn maintenance and frequent use of your mower is to keep your neighbors happy and pests away, think again. It actually helps your grass stay strong. When you forego mowing, and your grass grows to excessively high levels and goes to seed, you're doing more harm than good. Much of the grass seed that pops up on the tips of the blade may actually be sterile-so don't expect bare patches to miraculously fill in. And, when you do mow, you're not following the one-third rule, which lawn maintenance professionals know to be "not cutting off more than one-third of your grass blade during a mowing session." If you hack the mower blade through the tender grass and cut off more than one-third of the stem, it will significantly weaken your grass.
Creating the flowering seed is a lot of work for each blade of grass. When you let your lawn go to seed, you're letting it divert energy it would normally use to grow strong and healthy, and let it instead concentrate on flowering. It will also signal to the grass that it doesn't need to produce as many beneficial rhizomes, leading it to stop repairing itself, and essentially making your lawn look worse.
Sometimes, you just don't want to pull out the lawn mower. It happens. Mowing grass can be tedious and time consuming, and it's tempting to let your grass grow"¦and grow"¦and grow. Unfortunately, your grass will eventually go to seed and the long blades won't just be tough on your mower; they'll also be tough on the entirety of your yard. Letting your lawn go to seed won't be the same as planting new grass seed that creates a brand new lush lawn. There are three specific dangers in letting lawns go to seed.
The next time you think you'll let your grass go to seed while on vacation, or are tempted to let your front yard turn into a prairie, remember these three dangers. If necessary, look into hiring lawn services to take care of your yard.
Boggy, shady areas with acidic soils are the preferred home of both broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus), sometimes called blanketgrass, and narrowleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis). These grasses form a dense, coarse, medium-green mat that can grow up to 12 inches high. Both warm-season perennials, they turn green late in spring, send up tall, crabgrass-like seedheads in summer, then turn brown as soon as temperatures drop again.
Herbicides aren’t much help here. Contrary to its name, this plant is a grass, not a true sedge, so many treatments that control it also harm turfgrass. Spot treating with vinegar or any non-selective herbicide is your best bet for small areas. In large areas, proper fertilization and liming as needed gets rid of broom sedge over several years.
The safest way to get rid of small patches of quackgrass is to dig it up by the roots or solarize it by covering it with black plastic, such as a black bucket, for at least four weeks during the height of summer. Spot treatment with a non-selective herbicide is also an option. Keep in mind that non-selective herbicides can also kill any lawn grass they touch, so careful application is essential.
Nutsedge (Cyperus sp.)
A warm-season perennial, this grass grows upright in narrow bunches, particularly in sunny areas of low soil fertility and low soil pH levels such as abandoned lots and near railroad tracks. It’s medium green in summer, then turns a coppery orange and stiffens in fall.
The three species you might find are yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila), the smallest species with yellowish-orange flower spikes, green foxtail (Setaria viridis), a larger species with greenish-beige flower spikes, and giant foxtail (Setaria faberi), which can reach up to 7 feet and produces drooping flower spikes.
Young johnsongrass resembles corn seedlings and quickly matures to a height of up to 7 feet. Its 1/2- to 1-inch-wide leaves are marked by a white vein running down the center. From May to the first frost, this warm-season perennial produces purplish flowerhead tufts that can grow up to 1 foot long.
Because they often blend in with your lawn, weeds that look like grass can establish themselves before you realize they’re there. At that point, they’ve been taking nutrients from your lawn for weeks, gathering the strength to fight off your control efforts. Knowing how to identify common grassy weeds lets you get the jump on them before they make themselves too comfortable.