Weed Control in My Yard
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Posted on January 4, 2024 by Lawn Doctor
Chickweed is a common winter annual that can easily grow in gardens or lawns. Also known as satin flower, this weed has a variety of culinary and medicinal uses, but for many homeowners, chickweed infestations are something they want to prevent. Depending on where you live, you may find many different species of chickweed, though you can identify each by common characteristics such as white flowers and short growth height.
There are many species of chickweed, but those most commonly found include common, sticky and mouse-eared chickweed. Each variety has a slightly different appearance and grows in different conditions. If you can learn to identify weeds in your lawn, it will make removing them that much easier.
Common chickweed is an annual weed with shallow roots and a normal growth height of less than two inches. These weeds are a type of broadleaf weed, which means you can easily identify them by their wide leaf shape. When left to grow, they blossom into a small, white flower at the end of the stalk. This area is where the numerous chickweed seeds are stored and can spread.
This type of chickweed is also known by its scientific name, cerastium vulgatum. Mouse-ear chickweed has prostrate stems covered with sticky, hairy nodes from which roots can form upon contact with soil. The leaves on this species are noticeably different from those of common chickweed, as they are more oblong rather than having a distinct tip. In addition, the green leaves are coated with dense hairs along the entire surface.
From late spring to early fall, the plant produces white flowers similar to common chickweed, with five petals that are deeply clefted to resemble 10 petals.
This type of chickweed more closely resembles common chickweed, though its leaves and stems have similar hairs to those of mouse-ear chickweed. These hairs can secrete a sticky substance, living up to the weed’s name. Like other varieties, this species is not native to North America but can be found in nearly every state across the country.
If you want to keep a healthy lawn, removing chickweed is necessary before it takes over large parts of the lawn. Common weed removal strategies include mechanical methods such as hand-weeding and the use of chemical products.
Hand-weeding will effectively remove chickweed if it is done early in the growing season. Be sure to get the roots of the plant, or else they will grow back. When weeding, check through your garden or flower beds for any chickweed, which could spread to your lawn if left untouched. Be sure to remove chickweed before the flowering period. Check for saplings in late fall or winter and remove them by hand or with shallow cultivation.
While mechanical methods should be sufficient for the removal process, chemical solutions are still effective ways to remove chickweed. If you have a large swath of chickweed and no surrounding plants you are concerned about, then a non-selective herbicide could be a quick and effective option to remove chickweed. Similarly, post-emergent herbicides will work to remove chickweed. Many of these herbicides are made with ingredients effective against broadleaf weeds only so they won’t injure any surrounding grasses. Be sure to check the active ingredients before using these products.
A variety of methods exist to control chickweed before it has germinated. Pre-emergent herbicides are one such method, and these chemicals can be applied to patches of growth in the late fall or early winter to prevent growth in the spring. Many of these are appropriate for use in turf and lawns, but read the label on your product to verify whether it can cause any adverse effects to soil or surrounding crops.
Natural methods can also be used to reduce the chance that chickweed will germinate. Try using an organic mulch such as woodchips spread in a thick layer to limit the amount of light getting to the soil. Doing so helps to create a physical barrier that prevents weed growth and promotes a healthy lawn. An organic layer of mulch can also be supplemented by synthetic mulch or black plastic, further limiting growth.
Chickweed infestation can also be prevented by maintaining a thick, dense lawn. Be sure to keep grasses irrigated and fertilized according to best practices to give chickweed saplings as little chance to infest as possible.
Contact Lawn Doctor to help care for your lawn when you can’t.