Controlling Weeds Near Pavement

Many homeowners in the South consider weeds to be the most annoying lawn care challenge they face, and of course our region is far from alone in this respect. Tough and persistent, it sometimes seems like they can take root anywhere.

They’re especially hard to eradicate near paved areas, popping up in (and enlarging) cracks in sidewalks and driveways and near foundations. Unfortunately, soil quality tends to decline in these inconvenient areas, providing hospitable conditions for uninvited guests like nutsedge and crabgrass.

WHY WEEDS LOVE PAVEMENT

Dense soil: We’re prone to walk more on the ground that borders pavement relative to other parts of our lawns. If we go beyond the edge of a driveway when, for example, turning a car around, the vehicle’s weight compresses soil even more. Compacted earth is less healthy for most plants, leaving space for weeds to move in.

Warmer, thinner layers of soil: The way we construct sidewalks and driveways means that the soil nearby is usually shallow. As pavement collects and stores heat, that insubstantial layer of adjacent earth absorbs weed-friendly warmth.

Less grass: To sum up, any grass near a paved area is struggling to establish roots in a thin layer of dense, warm soil that could only be less welcoming if it were actually on fire. To add insult to injury, many of us incorporate edging into our lawn care routines, deliberately clearing areas of bare soil that weeds are happy to take advantage of. 

TIPS FOR FIGHTING BACK

Some weeds will be more stubborn than others, so it’s best to adopt a combination of strategies.

The traditional hand pull: To make sure you’re removing the entire root system, pinch as close to the base as possible. This will obviously be more difficult in narrow cracks and other inaccessible spaces. Consider filling these gaps with gravel or cement.

Chemical lawn treatment: There are so many weed killers available that just choosing among them is a challenge. Be sure to read safety materials thoroughly before applying any chemical, and follow instructions carefully.

Annual aeration: Aerating your lawn helps essential nutrients to reach grass roots by reducing soil compaction. A deeper, stronger root system will be less vulnerable to weed incursions.

Maybe a little less edging: If we’re judging on appearance alone, edging definitely has the advantage over not edging. But the resulting bare soil means that weeds will soon interfere with that clean look. What’s a homeowner to do? Consider edging less frequently in warmer months when weed germination is at its peak.

The best way to combat weeds in any area of your yard is keeping your soil healthy with a lawn care regimen that’s professionally tailored first to the special conditions of the South and then to the specific characteristics of your lawn. Pre-emergents, fertilizers, and other lawn treatments will bolster your soil’s ability to fend off not only weeds but also diseases and harmful insects.