Use a harrow to drag your pasture.

Use a harrow to drag your pasture. Harrowing breaks up manure piles so that grass plants aren’t smothered and so plants can better use the nutrients and organic materials–and become healthier to out compete weeds. | Photo: Alayne Blickle

The key to avoid having weeds overtake your horse pastures is to make your pastures as competitive as possible for grass–a healthy stand of grass will go a long way toward out competing the weeds. Here are six important things you can do to avoid weeds.

1) Don’t allow your pastures to be stressed by overgrazing. When pastures get down to 3 to 4 inches, remove horses from the pasture. Avoid bare spots. An open area of soil is an invitation to weeds–many weed seeds can lay dormant for up to 50 years just waiting for the right conditions to happen. Not overgrazing ensures that grass will have enough reserves left after grazing to permit rapid regrowth. Put horses back on pastures when the grass has re-grown to about six to eight inches.

2) Regular mowing of your pastures will help discourage many weeds (most can’t withstand mowing) and make your grasses healthier. Once horses are done grazing an area, set your mower to six inches and mow away. Horses are selective grazers, eating some plants close to the ground and leaving others untouched. Mowing evens the playing field by cutting the tall plants down to a size where they are more tasty for the horse and encouraging grass plants to produce more leaves, called tillers, thereby making pastures thicker.