If your perfect lawn is evenly coloured with an unbroken texture, you’ll want to know how to keep moss and weeds at bay. This blogpost is for you.
What are weeds?
To me, a weed is a plant that’s growing in the wrong place. Personally I love wild flowers and I wouldn’t consider a dandelion to be a weed – unless it’s in the middle of my lawn.
We can categorise weeds in several ways.
- Annual weeds
- Perennial Weeds
- Broad leaved weeds
- Weed grasses
- Mosses and Liverworts
Lets consider each category in turn and look at ways of a) removing them and b) keeping them away
Examples: Chickweed, groundsel, black medick
Annual weeds are not uncommon in newly seeded lawns but in a healthy established lawn they’re rarely a problem. The seeds of most annual plants need disturbed ground and/or light in order to germinate. If your lawn has a deep thick sward with no bare patches, annual weeds don’t stand a chance.
Chickweed and groundsel in a newly seeded lawn are easily plucked out by hand. If there are too many, don’t panic. Once the lawn reaches 7-8 cm high you can start mowing. Neither of these weeds enjoy being cut down and they won’t survive long enough to spoil the mature lawn. It may take a few weeks, but they will go.
Black medick is a different story though. This is a low growing weed that will soon smother out grass plants. If you can remove it by hand please do so (I’m not a fan of chemical weedkillers). But if all else fails a selective herbicide will be needed.
Examples: Plantain, dandelion, thistle, daisy, clover
The best option for managing these weeds is not to let them establish in the first place. Avoid mowing your lawn too short, keep the grass plants well fed and healthy and the sward thick and you’re unlikely to be invaded.
Having said that – you may have inherited a challenging lawn already and be looking for a solution. If there are only a few unwanted plants you can spot treat them with a systemic herbicide. You can buy one now in gel form that you just touch onto the weed leaves. It takes about 3 weeks to kill the weed but provided you’ve been careful, it won’t affect the grass.
If you’re horribly affected then I’m afraid you’ll need a blanket treatment of herbicide. There are lots available from the garden centres but the very best ones are only available to lawn treatment companies. The service costs you money but it IS effective AND you know that the chemicals will be applied by somebody who understands them and is trained to handle them properly.
Broad leaved weeds
There are 2 types of plant on this planet. Broad leaved plants and grasses. Both have slightly different metabolisms which means that chemical controls can be made specific to one or the other. If you resort to using weedkiller on your lawn, make sure it’s one designed to kill ONLY broadleaved weeds.
If you have weed grasses in your lawn and you hate them, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. In a fine lawn, annual meadow grass (the most common weed grass) can look ghastly. In a utility lawn it’s less of a problem. Simply keep the lawn well fed and you’ll find that the AMG will blend with the other grasses over time. AMG doesn’t cope well with stress and if it’s hungry the leaves turn pale. That’s when they show up as lighter coloured dots on the lawn. Picking off any flowering stalks as soon as you see them and being consistent with your mowing regime will limit the spread.
We’ve blogged about Annual Meadow Grass in the past – here’s our post from December 2015
Mosses and liverworts
Mosses and (less frequently) liverworts are primitive plants that can really change the way a lawn looks, feels and behaves.
They’re generally a symptom of shade, soil compaction, poor drainage or low nutrient levels with shade being the most usual problem.