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Sparse lawn and weeds

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Common dandelion.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Édith Smeesters)  
Taraxacum officinale

Renovating a sparse lawn

It’s possible to make a sparse or heavily thatched lawn denser. In this case you have to:

  • Pull up the weeds;
  • Aerate the soil, if necessary;
  • Topdress with compost;
  • Reseed using a seed mixture appropriate to your needs.

On the other hand, when more than 50 percent of the lawn is weeds, when there’s little organic material or when the soil is compacted to a depth of over 6 centimeters or very poorly drained, it’s preferable to:

  • Remove the lawn;
  • Work the soil deeply;
  • Add the necessary amendments;
  • Reseed (or lay new turf).

Controlling weeds

A healthy and well kept lawn, as well as optimum soil conditions, will greatly stifle the spread of weeds. Ground that is too compact, too clayey, too acid or too alkaline supports weed growth, as do lawns mowed too short.

The ideal is to pull the weeds out as soon as they appear, before they produce seeds and the lawn is invaded. And then tackle the cause.

Avoid herbicides

The use of weedkillers is not recommended, since that practice does not attack the source of the problem.

Moreover, herbicides present risks for human health, especially children’s, and for the environment. To lessen those risks, the provincial government adopted the Pesticide Management Code, and many municipalities in Québec have provided themselves with bylaws restricting or prohibiting the use of pesticides. Before thinking about using a product, check with your municipality or your borough.

The benefits of a diversified lawn

A lawn maintained ecologically is not the same thing as a grass monoculture. In effect, plants like dwarf white clover, wild thyme and violets are more than welcome in a lawn.

A diversified lawn has many advantages: it has better resistance to drought and to pests, it promotes the presence of pollinators and other useful organisms, and it requires less maintenance.

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