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weeds with thousands of white seeds

For a Northern, cool-season lawn (one composed of cool-season grasses like rye, fescue and/or bluegrass) that means never cutting shorter than three inches, never feeding in summer, watering deeply but infrequently, and giving the lawn a big natural feeding in the Fall.

In turf, weeds like bittercress are a sure sign of poor lawn care. The answer is not to poison yourself and the environment (and kill your grass) in a futile attempt to remove the weed, but to care for your lawn correctly and deny the weed a place to live. Take good care of your grass and a harmless little plant like this should never have a chance to get established, much less thrive.

If you scalp the lawn, weeds will thrive. If you water it frequently for short periods of time, weeds will thrive. And if you feed the poor heat-stressed thing in summer, weeds will take over.

If I’m paying attention and life cooperates, I’ll pull the weeds while they’re still in flower and before they set seed. Both weeds get composted—mixed into a good amount of shredded leaves hoarded from the previous fall; at least two parts leaves to every part green weed. The bitter cress typically comes up with a good amount of soil attached to its roots, which adds microbial life to the pile; and the chickweed has a lot of water content to help keep the moistness levels right.

If I don’t get to them in time, I toast the seedheads with my trusty flame weeder before I pull the plants, just like I do with dandelions that have progressed to the puffball stage. Dandelion seeds burst into little flares of color—like Munchkin fireworks. Bittercress seeds explode with a loud ‘pop’. (Organic gardening is SO much more fun than spraying hormonal disruptor around!)

Both weeds are also highly edible, especially when young. Chickweed is more nutritious than the salad greens that many people remove it to plant! And, although hairy bittercress (a member of the mustard family) doesn’t have nearly as many wild food fans as chickweed or purslane (perhaps the most edible ‘weed’), it does have some of the peppery taste of its namesake watercress, and it’s loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients. Pick it before the flower buds form and it won’t have nearly as much of the bitter edge that older plants take on. (Flowering changes the flavor of virtually all herbs and greens for the worse.)

But I like to wait until after the little white flowers form to pull these weeds. Their flowers open up right before the blooms on my fruit trees, attracting lots of the pollinators and beneficial insects I’ll need to get a good fruit set and to fight all the pests that want to eat those peaches as much as we do.

The weed prolifically spreads through its sticky seeds which easily grasp onto pets and shoes before been relocated.

This low-growing weed is capable of setting seed even when closely mown.

White Clover has seeds that can survive high heat, low temperatures and can stay dormant for years before germinating.

Control

myhomeTURF suggests using OxaFert, a combination fertiliser and pre-emergent herbicide that can be purchased through our Partner Lawn Pride.

Crowsfoot has leaf sheaths that are prominently keeled with a membranous structure (5cm to 10cm long) at the base of the leaf blade.

The weed evolves during winter and develops carrot-like leaves, during spring it produces a single flower that matures to form a prickly seed pod with three spines.

It is important to note that killing White Clover weed is easy but killing the White Clover seed is not.

Also called wood sorrel, oxalis is a perennial weed that looks a lot like clover, except with yellow flowers. It forms a dense, low-growing mound that spreads by seed, stem fragment, or underground root. Hand-pulling rarely works because you leave much of the plant behind. Your best bet for small areas is digging by hand, but this option often takes several seasons to have an impact. Apply a broadleaf herbicide like dicamba to actively growing plants before they set seed. As with all chemical treatments, follow the application instructions and wear protective clothing.

Weed control is part of every successful lawn maintenance plan. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your grass stays as weed-free as possible.

Closely related to moss roses, purslane has fleshy succulent leaves and stems that hug the ground, radiating out from a single taproot. It has small yellow flowers and can produce large mats in bare soil. Purslane seeds germinate best when soil temperatures reach 90 degrees or more, so a preemergent herbicide applied in April will likely have lost its efficacy by June when purslane starts growing. Pull by hand, making sure to remove all parts of the plant. Seed bare spots in the lawn in spring or fall to prevent purslane from gaining a foothold in these areas.

Purslane

One of the most recognizable lawn weeds, dandelions have notched leaves and yellow flowers that become puffballs most of us blew on as kids. Their thick taproot sinks deeply into the soil, making it difficult to pull the entire plant out by hand. The weed often snaps, leaving the taproot in place to regrow, which isn’t a totally bad thing if you’re consistent with this method. Repeatedly removing the growth above ground makes it tough for the plant to produce food and the dandelion eventually will die. If you prefer a more immediate response, opt for a post-emergent herbicide designed for use in the lawn. All parts of the dandelion are edible, so you can toss them in a salad or sauté them as long as you haven’t exposed them to any herbicides.

Mulch landscape beds. Mulch stops the germination of weed seeds by preventing sunlight from reaching them.

Just when you thought that your carpet of green grass couldn’t look any better, a weed pops through to remind you that you are not in control. Unfortunately, weed control is part of any lawn maintenance routine. Whether the seeds blow in on the wind, drop from a passing bird, or lie dormant in the soil waiting for the right time to emerge, it’s inevitable that they will find your grass. A quick response is key to preventing a few weeds from swallowing your entire lawn. Here are nine common lawn weeds and the best (and safest) ways to stop their spread.

Mow higher and as needed. Frequent mowing weakens grass and exposes the soil so weed seeds can germinate. Grass blades, when cut often, won’t develop the side shoots required to create a denser lawn. Mow frequently enough to maintain a lawn height of 3 to 4 inches.