Getting the Best of Broadleaf Weeds

Regular Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Dandelions, chickweed, ground ivy, henbit, knotweed, plantain, and thistle… all sorts of broadleaf weeds will soon be making an appearance. It would be great if we could eliminate these pests once and for all. The thing is, they create a lot of seeds, so complete elimination isn’t possible.

Just one dandelion seed head can hold over 200 seeds, which are capable of traveling very long distances by wind, water, on animals and on the bottom of our shoes. New weed seeds are constantly finding their way into the soil on your property, and they can remain in the soil for years until they get enough sun and water to germinate.


Proper lawn maintenance encourages thicker, healthier grass, and that’s the best way to prevent broadleaf weeds. The denser your lawn, the less room these weeds will have to grow. Three keys to crowding out broadleaf weeds are:

  • Mowing: Removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow. This keeps the soil shaded to discourage germination of weed seeds.
  • Watering: Making sure your lawn gets from 1” to 1 ½” of water per week from rainfall or sprinkling.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilizing regularly to expand your lawn’s root system for more vigorous growth.


Whenever broadleaf weeds pop up, they can be spot treated with a post- emergent herbicide. Keep in mind that it can take up to three weeks for treated weeds to die off, and repeat applications may be necessary if new weeds appear throughout the season. Also, if your lawn has been seeded, post-emergent herbicides shouldn’t be used until the new grass has been mowed at least three times.

Yes, broadleaf weeds are a nuisance, but they can be managed. With the right lawn care practices, post-emergent herbicides and a little patience, they won’t have nearly as much of an impact on your lawn.

Pre-Emergent vs. Post-Emergent

Dandelion weed

 So you may be seeing these pesky little weeds popping up in and around your lawn.  This is the common dandelion.  While some people like to add them to their salads, most want us to take them out of their lawn.  And some others that you may be seeing are clover, plantain, curly dock, spurge and many, many more.  The list is endless.  And yes, there is hope.  With a good quality lawn care program and the smart use of some select herbicides, you too can eliminate most of these broadleaf weeds from your lawn.

Start with a Pre-emergent herbicide.  Usually applied in a granular format, an application of pre-emergence herbicides will help form a barrier on the soil that prohibits weeds from germinating.  Remember my previous blog on GDD’s (Growing Degree Days)?  It is important to apply your pre-emergent herbicide application  before the weeds start to germinate, otherwise it won’t be as effective.  What are the drawbacks, you ask? Well, you cannot necessarily seed while the herbicide is active.

Weeds vs. Grass

Once the weeds start to germinate, then you can use Post-Emergent herbicides.  Yes, these applications will remove weeds once they are actively growing.  But you must be careful.  Some Post-Emergent herbicides will eliminate whatever they hit….and some will eliminate just weeds (not grass).  So it is important to READ THE LABEL before using any product on your lawn.

 Joe Yedowitz, CLT

Emil Yedowitz Landscaping and Irrigation Solutions

(914) 377-9039