Creating the perfect manicured lawn organically can be hard work – but you need to ask yourself, is that something you really need or want to do?
Many gardeners are obsessed with perfect lawns. And unfortunately, maintaining those perfect lawns has come at a huge cost to people and planet.
If you are wondering how to remove weeds from your lawn without killing grass, you might be researching which weedkillers will work on weeds you want to get rid off without killing the lawn. Stop!
Always Remove Weeds Organically
It is important to be aware of the harm that using herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilisers can do. Using commonly available weedkillers like Roundup is one of the worst things you can do in your garden if you care about the environment.
Weed-targeting weedkillers like Roundup won’t kill your grass. But it will do immense harm to the garden ecosystem as a whole. And if you like easy and low maintenance garden options, using harmful products like this is hugely counterproductive. It will just make your garden harder and harder to manage as time goes on.
Herbicides carry a range of great risks for people, wildlife, and the natural environment. So if you want to avoid contributing to great harm, then gardening organically is the only way to go.
Do You Really Need or Want a Lawn?
In the western world, many gardeners have been conditioned to believe that a manicured and weed-free lawn is a desirable thing. But there are many reasons why perfectly neat, close-mown grass lawns are not the best option for a garden:
- Neat grass lawns are monocultures – and without plant diversity, are not thriving or resilient at all.
- A grass lawn (especially one on which harmful chemicals have been used) is a deserted wasteland – sadly depleted of life, both below and above the soil.
- Neatly mowed monoculture lawns are high maintenance and very low reward.
- And they can be rather boring too. More diverse gardens with a wider range of plants, which welcomes in a wide range of native wildlife, are far more interesting and, arguably, a lot more beautiful too.
Giving up an area of lawn to plant other things – fruits and vegetables, a wildflower meadow, or a lush woodland garden, for example, can bring a range of benefits.
Do You Really Need or Want to Remove Weeds from Your Lawn?
But there may be times when you want to keep a lawn (for example, in cases where kids or pets need a place to play). So the easiest way to improve matters is simply to mow less often, and allow a range of weeds to pop up.
This is one easy way to get a beautiful and low maintenance organic garden space.
So, before deciding to try and get rid of all the weeds in your lawn organically, ask yourself whether you really want to get rid of them at all.
In most instances, the ‘weeds’ you find in a garden lawn are not a problem at all. In fact, they can be beautiful, useful, and even edible!
What many gardeners think of as weeds can actually be great plants to have in your garden.
Reasons to embrace weeds rather than removing them:
- Weeds can actually be beautiful flowering plants.
- They can be beneficial for pollinators and other insects, and help boost biodiversity.
- Some weeds are dynamic accumulators, helping rather than hindering the growth of lawn grasses. Clovers, for example, fix nitrogen from the air, and dandelions have deep tap roots which draw up nutrients from deeper soil levels.
- Many common weeds are edible, and even taste great.
- And some can have medicinal benefits, or other uses around your home.
Some useful and/or attractive lawn weeds include:
- Creeping buttercup
- Germander speedwell
- Meadow buttercup
… to name but a few. Letting these and other weeds and wildflowers grow and proliferate in your lawn can soon turn it from wasted monoculture to an abundant and thriving ecosystem.
Remove Weeds By Hand
While many weeds can be beneficial, and it is a great idea to rewild your lawn, there may be times when you will want to remove certain weeds from your lawn. Doing so does involve a bit of manual work. But is usually not too much of a challenge –
Simply dig down and remove the plant along with as much of the root as possible. A weed removal tool can help with this process.
Nettles in a lawn can usually be dealt with simply by mowing (or scything) over them repeatedly. Small clumps can also be removed by hand.
These, and other non-desirable grassland plants like thistles (with their prickles) should always be mowed down, or dug up and removed, before they have the chance to set seed.
But remember, as with most other weeds, these plants can also be very useful in the right places.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.