Weeds Beware: Early Spring Strategies for Weed Control in Toronto Lawns

Lawns wake up in early spring, and so do weeds. By taking proper weed control measures and nipping the problem in the bud, you don’t give unwanted plants any chance to raise their unwelcome heads.

Common Weeds in Toronto Lawns

You need to identify weeds in your lawn to determine the weed control strategy that will work. Generally, weeds are categorized according to their leaf shape and seasonal growth habits. The types of weeds you’ll encounter will vary depending on your location. In Toronto, the most common unwanted plants in lawns include but are not limited to the following:


Crabgrass forms a tight, crab-like circle, hence its name. It is an annual weed that reproduces by seed and often grows in weak or bare areas of your lawn. It thrives when you over- or under-water your lawn or mow the grass too short.


Dandelions are famous for their beautiful yellow flowers, which mature into white puffballs full of seeds. The wind can carry these seeds many miles away. Once the plants germinate and grow in your lawn, they will keep growing back until you remove their entire roots. That happens because this weed is a perennial type with a strong taproot that can go three feet into the soil.


Clover is recognizable by its three dark green leaflets. Its flowers are favored by pollinator bees, making them good for the environment. However, they are aggressive and can easily take over your lawn. So unless you plan to have clover instead of recognized turf grasses, it’s best to remove them once you spot them. This perennial weed thrives in infertile lawns.

Ground Ivy

Ground ivy has simple, fuzzy leaves that appear opposite each other and produces blue/purple trumpet-shaped flowers. When you crush its leaves or stem, it will emit a mint-like odor. It’s a perennial weed with a creeping growth habit. This enables it to grow roots at nodes that touch the soil.

Wild Violet

Wild violet has heart-shaped leaves with a glossy or smooth surface. It’s a perennial weed with a very dense and fibrous root system, making it challenging to control. It thrives in shady and fertile soils.

Canada Thistle

Canada thistle is a rather tall plant with long leaves that alternate up the stems. The leaves are smooth and green on the upper side, with spiny margins on the leaf bottom. Flowers are usually pinkish or purple and appear singly or in tiny clusters at the ends of branched stems. It’s a very aggressive perennial weed that spreads quickly and is difficult to eradicate.

These six weeds are just some of what you can encounter in Toronto lawns. Toronto is home to many other undesirable plants in lawns, such as chickweed and broadleaf plantains. Identifying weeds can be tricky, especially for untrained eyes. Don’t hesitate to seek help from trustworthy weed control companies in Toronto if you’re dealing with an unfamiliar weed.

Early Spring Weed Prevention Tips

Putting the effort in during early spring to lower or eliminate the weed population will significantly reduce the amount of weeding you’ll need to do all season long. Still, how do you treat weeds in early spring? Here are some things you can do:

  • Water your lawn properly. Poor irrigation practices can weaken the grass, allowing weeds to thrive. Ensure your lawn receives a sufficient amount of water at the most optimal times of the day, which is before the sun is up. By watering lawns in the morning, the water won’t evaporate quickly. If you use sprinkler systems, ensure they function properly and that the water reaches all areas of the lawn. Ideally, you should water once per week for four hours per zone.
  • Mow at the right height, which is between 7cm and 8cm tall. Not only does this keep your grass looking neat, but it will also reduce the risk of weed invasion. Use a mower with sharp blades to avoid stressing the turf.
  • Dispose of weed debris properly. When hand-pulling weeds, do not leave the debris in your lawn or toss seeds into a compost pile. Perennial weeds will likely grow back when their roots come in contact with the soil.
  • For unkempt lawns, you can use pre-emergent organic herbicide alongside cultural maintenance practices. Organic herbicides are safer to use than their synthetic counterparts. But note that organic herbicides are not a one-size-fits-all kind of product, so make sure to choose and use one that is formulated to prevent the specific weeds you are facing from gaining a foothold in your lawn.

Organic Weed Control Methods

When it comes to weed control, applying pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides is a common practice. While effective in eliminating weeds, these products contain chemicals that can harm the environment, people, and animals. Safety and health should never be compromised just to grow a beautifully green lawn. So, consider organic weed control in Toronto instead.

Hand Weeding

Pulling weeds by hand is a practical and natural way of controlling Ontario weeds in small or medium-sized lawns. However, this method is not ideal for larger lawns because it requires a lot of time and effort. If you’re dealing with a perennial weed, remove the entire weed, including the tubers, roots, and all underground parts of the grass. Shovels, hand weeders, and similar tools may make the job easier. Toss all weed debris in the trash to prevent them from growing again.

Use Organic Herbicides

You can use organic herbicides when dealing with a massive lawn weed population. Organic herbicides are an effective alternative to store-bought glyphosate-based herbicides. However, be careful because non-selective organic herbicides exist, and these products don’t choose which plants to kill. Corn gluten meal is also an effective organic pre-emergent herbicide that can suppress seed germination.

Mulch After the Last Frost

Plants, even undesirable ones, need sunlight to germinate and grow. Mulching can prevent this vital resource from reaching the soil surface, making it one of the easiest ways to control lawn weeds. Choose organic mulches, such as wood chips and compost. Aside from preventing light from passing through, some organic mulches host insects that devour weed seeds. You should avoid hay because it can contain undesirable seeds and grass clippings that have been treated with synthetic herbicides.

Creating a Weed-Resistant Lawn

There’s always the risk of unwanted plants growing on your lawn. After all, wind, birds, and even your feet may spread weeds. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to ensure your lawn can resist weed invasion: keep the soil healthy.

Healthy soil leads to a healthy lawn. A thriving turf can easily outcompete weeds and avoid weed infestation. Weeds tend to pop up in opportunistic situations. These include turfgrass not getting enough water and nutrients. With healthy soil, grass develops and retains a robust root system. In a healthy lawn, weed seeds will find it hard to elbow their way in.

You can improve soil quality through organic lawn care. Organic lawn care methods underscore the significance of good soil quality as a main factor in growing healthy turfgrass. These methods involve applying completely organic fertilizers and amendments so that the soil condition improves over time.

Whether you want to create a weed-resistant lawn or you’re looking for help with lawn weed control, you can count on LawnMart. We’re experts in organic lawn care, maintaining lawns without harmful chemicals. Feel free to contact our team to learn more about weed control or to get a free quote.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.