Winter weeds commonly germinate in the fall months and then spend the winter as plants, maturing fully in the springtime and dying in the summer to spread seeds for the next cycle. The weeds are therefore most likely to affect the health of lawn and turf in the spring. Summit Turf Services gives a list of winter weeds along with how to eliminate them below. Pay attention to the following weeds that can affect spring lawns and take steps to eliminate them before they become a problem:


– Henbot

– Purple Deadnettle

– Common Chickweed

– Field Pennycress

– Star Of Bethlehem

– Wild Garlic

– Wild Onion

– Foxtail

– Quackgrass

– Butterweed

– Bindweed

– Clover

Apart from affecting the health and beauty of your lawn, leaving these winter weeds unattended will result in the spread and proliferation of the plants. Every season will result in more and more seeds germinating until the weeds take over a lawn entirely. It is important to know which weeds are affecting the lawn in order to employ the correct strategy to eliminate them.

How to Eliminate Winter Weeds

Steps that can be taken to eliminate the weeds throughout the different stages to ensure a pristine lawn in the spring, include:

1. Prevent Seeding

This is the most important step that can be taken to eliminate weeds. Winter weeds should therefore preferably be eliminated before summer arrives and they have the chance to seed. Keep in mind that some weeds have small seeds that are spread by wind or animals like birds and that preventing seeding will not entirely eliminate winter weeds. Some seeds can lie dormant in the soil for years before germinating. Regular weed removal is however critical to reducing a winter weed problem.

eliminating winter weeds

2. Manual Removal

Removing weeds manually is still one of the best ways to get rid of them. This can be achieved by hand or by using a hoe, trowel or tiller. It is however extremely important to remove the weeds with the root. If the roots remain behind, the weed will simply grow back. When using the hand method to pull up weeds, gently tug at the weed as close to the ground as possible while slowly twisting to pull the entire weed out of the soil.

However, if weed tops are removed with a hoe regularly, then it will cause the weeds to die off eventually. It is best to chop off the top as soon as it appears for this technique to be efficient. Mowing the lawn regularly can have the same effect. As soon as the lawn reaches mowing height, it should be cut. This will also give the lawn a competitive edge over the weeds. 

Manual winter weed removal is best performed in the fall when the seeds are just germinating. Young plants are far easier to remove than adult plants. Once springtime has arrived, it is often far more difficult to manually remove weeds without tools. It is not ideal to remove weeds once they have started seeding. The manual removal process can result in the spread of the seeds.

how to manually eliminate winter weeds

3. Mulching

The leaves that fall from trees during autumn have a function and this is to provide natural mulch. Mulching has many benefits for a lawn including providing the necessary nutrients and retaining moisture. However, it can also help with weed control and stop sunlight from reaching seeds in the fall months, preventing them from germinating in the first place. Applying landscaping fabric can have the same effect.

Either purchase mulch to lay over grass or collect leaves that have naturally fallen in Autumn and shred these. This will provide the ultimate mulch to promote lawn health in spring and get rid of those unwanted. pesky weeds.

mulching and winter weeds

4. Weed Killer

Many gardeners prefer not to turn to using pesticides or weed killer to get rid of weeds as they are concerned about the damage it can do to the lawn. However, weed killers are designed to specifically target weeds and when used correctly should do no damage to the lawn.

Be aware that weed killer is only effective to eliminate weeds in the growing phase. Applying it in the fall months when winter weeds are germinating and just beginning to grow is, therefore, the ideal time to use weed killer.

It is preferable to apply the weed killer when the soil is moist. This will help prevent damage to the lawn. If the soil is dry and there has been no rain for a few days, it is recommended to water the lawn before applying the weed killer. 

However, while the soil should be moist, the grass should preferably be dry. Water droplets on the grass will dilute the weed killer and make it far less effective. It is also best not to apply the weed killer if it is likely to rain in the next 6 hours to prevent dilution.

Strong, direct sunlight should also be avoided for the recommended duration of application. Hot sun will dry the weed killer out before it can be effective. It is therefore best to apply in the early morning or late afternoon.

Weed killer should not be applied directly after mowing and it is advisable to wait 2 or 3 days. This will help protect the lawn as well as ensure that leaves are available on the weeds for the treatment to work. It is also recommended to wait at least 3 days after using weed killer before mowing again.

It is important to keep in mind that weed killer is toxic (poisonous) and that it should always and only be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Natural Weed Killers And Repellents

There are plenty of home remedies out there that can be effective at eliminating weeds or preventing them from growing in the first place. Vinegar and salt applied to weeds will kill them. Pouring boiling, hot water on weeds will also instantly kill them. However, it is important to test these natural weed killing remedies on a small patch of grass to ensure they don’t damage the lawn.

To sum up – Keeping a lawn neat and trim and taking action to eliminate winter weeds in the fall when they begin germinating are essential to a weed free lawn in spring. Allow Summit Turf Services to maintain your lawn and take care of more than just winter weeds. Call us today!