Does Mowing Weeds Spread Them? [5 Tips for Mowing Weeds]

Mowing weeds that have already begun to produce seeds can spread the weeds. However, mowing weeds early—before they have the chance to mature—prevents them from producing seeds. It can also be helpful to spray weeds with herbicide several days before mowing, in order to ensure the weed dies. If you mow flowering weeds, attach a bagger to the mower to collect the seeds and clippings.

Does mowing weeds spread them?

Does Mowing Help Control Weeds

Proper mowing practices help to control flowering weeds such as dandelions and thistles. Keeping your lawn at the optimal height encourages thick grass growth. When your grass grows more thickly, it will discourage weeds from sprouting. So, regular mowing actively prevents weeds from invading your yard.

  • Mowing your lawn regularly promotes thick grass growth that prevents new weeds from sprouting.
  • Mowing weeds like dandelions can destroy the flowers before they spread weed seeds.
  • Not all weeds are stopped by mowing.
  • Crabgrass and other weeds will grow outwards rather than up—no amount of mowing will drive them off.

However, there are many weeds that can’t be controlled by mowing. Low weeds like clover and crabgrass will grow outward along the surface of your lawn, much lower than your mower blades can reach. So, mowing doesn’t drive out all weeds from your grass.

How Do You Stop Your Lawnmower From Spreading Weeds? [5 Methods]

In order to encourage a healthy lawn, proper mowing practices are a must. If you have weeds cropping up in your lawn, use the following mowing tips to prevent spreading weeds. You can even use your mower to help win the war against weeds.

Mow Weeds Early

In order to keep weeds at bay, mow them before they produce seeds. Most weeds grow tall flower stems and produce flowers. Those flowers drop seeds once the flowering period is over. If you mow weeds before the flowers begin to wilt, you will cut the weeds down before they drop mature seeds. This can help prevent the spread of future weeds.

  • Mow flowering weeds before they produce seeds in order to prevent weeds from spreading.
  • If weeds are mowed early, the flowers won’t be able to mature and drop seeds.

Dandelions are a good example of this life cycle. Dandelions do not produce seeds until they turn into white puffballs. So, if you mow dandelions while the flowers are still yellow, you will cut off the flower before it turns to seed. Mowing at this point helps prevent dandelions from spreading.

Spray Weeds Before Mowing

You can kill weeds in your yard by spraying them with a lawn-safe systemic herbicide. However, make sure the weed killer has time to fully infiltrate the plant and kill it to the roots before you mow again. You should wait 5 days after spraying before you mow any weeds. When it comes to spraying weeds and mowing, mowing too soon after spraying a weed killer can allow the weed to bounce back.

  • Spray weeds with this weed killer to kill weeds to the root without harming the grass.
  • Wait 5 days after spraying weeds before you mow your lawn.
  • Mowing too soon after spraying weeds can interrupt the weed killer before it has traveled to the roots and killed the entire plant.

Additionally, it is not a good idea to spray weeds right after you mow. Weed killers are absorbed through the leaves of the plant. If you’ve cut off a weed’s leaves by mowing, the weed killer won’t do much good. So, wait a few days after mowing before you spray weeds in your yard.

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Bag Seed-Producing Weeds

If your lawn is overrun with weeds that are actively dropping seeds, attach a bagger to your mower in order to collect the seeds as you mow. This tactic works for flowering weeds that have gone to seed (such as dandelions) or invasive grasses that have grown seed heads (such as crabgrass). By bagging the seeds as you go, you prevent your mower from spreading them across your lawn.

  • If weeds have begun to produce seeds, attach a bagger to your mower to collect the grass clippings and weed seeds as you mow.
  • Bagging grass clippings with weed seeds prevents the seeds from spreading naturally.
  • Dispose of grass clippings with weed seeds—do not use the clippings for mulch or compost.

Mowing and bagging weeds that have begun to spread seeds also prevents the weeds from dropping their seeds on your lawn naturally. Instead, you conveniently collect the seeds in your mower bagger. Toss any grass clippings with weed seeds into a green waste bin. Do not add weed seeds to your compost. The seeds can remain active and sprout once you spread your compost. 

Avoid Mowing Large Weeds

Do not use your lawn mower to attempt to mow very large weeds in your yard. Thistles and other large weeds will take a toll on your lawn mower and may damage the blade or engine. Similarly, small trees and invasive shrubs should not be mowed—attempting this task could damage your mower or send dangerous debris flying out of the mower chute.

  • Do not attempt to mow very large weeds—you could damage your mower.
  • Very large weeds must be sprayed with weed killer or dug up by the roots.

Large, tough weeds should be treated with weed killer or uprooted. If you have large, flowering weeds in your yard, attack them quickly with a herbicidal spray. You can also use a pair of trimmers to cut off flowers and prevent weeds from spreading.

Do Not Mow Ivy

Invasive ivy should not be controlled by mowing. Creeping charlie, poison ivy, and other vining plants are extremely tough. Not only will mowing not kill them, but little bits of the stem cut up by the mower can take root in your yard and contribute to the spread of ivy. Instead, consider using the necessary tactics to kill poison ivy without harming other plants.

  • Avoid mowing invasive ivy, including English ivy, creeping charlie, and poison ivy.
  • Mowing ivy won’t kill the plant.
  • Pieces of ivy stem cut up by a mower blade can take root in your yard, which can spread the infestation.
  • Use weed killer and other methods to battle pest ivy.

Although mowing ivy might seem like a quick way to get rid of it or keep it at bay, the truth is running a mower over ivy can often have a negative effect on your yard. While you can absolutely use a mower to mow other pesky weeds, use weed killer and other methods for tough ivy plants.

Do Weeds Spread When Mowed?

Mowing weeds incorrectly can contribute to the spread of weeds in your lawn. In order to use mowing to help you control weeds, follow these tips:

  • Mow weeds before they have begun to produce seeds. This will interrupt their life cycle and prevent reproduction.
  • Spray weeds with a systemic herbicide, then wait 5 days before mowing so the herbicide can kill the weeds.
  • If your weeds have visible seed heads, use a bagger attachment to bag weed seeds as you mow.
  • Do not mow extremely large weeds or tough, woody weeds. This can damage your mower.
  • Avoid mowing ivy, since mowing can spread some species of ivy.

These tips can help reduce the presence of weeds in your lawn. By cutting off flowers and seed heads before they mature, you can create a beautiful, weed-free lawn.

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