How to Get Rid of Chickweed

Chickweed is a common winter annual that can easily grow in gardens or lawns. Also known as satinflower, this herb 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, although you can identify each by common characteristics such as white flowers and a short growing height.

Types of chickweed

There are many species of chickweed, but the 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 be much easier to remove them.

common chickweed

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, meaning you can easily identify them by the shape of their broad leaves. When allowed to grow, they turn into a small white flower at the end of the stem. In this area the numerous chickweed seeds are stored and can be propagated.

mouse ear chickweed

This type of chickweed is also known by its scientific name, cerastium vulgatum. Mouse ear chickweed has prostrate stems covered in hairy, sticky nodes from which roots can form upon contact with the soil. The leaves of this species are noticeably different from those of the common chickweed, being more oblong rather than having a distinct tip. In addition, the green leaves are covered with dense hairs along the entire surface.

From late spring to early fall, the plant produces white flowers similar to common chickweed, with five deeply cleft petals that look like 10 petals.

sticky chickweed

This type of chickweed looks more like common chickweed, although its leaves and stems have hairs similar to those of mouse-ear chickweed. These hairs can secrete a sticky substance, living up to the herb’s name. Like other varieties, this species is not native to North America, but can be found in almost every state in the country.

How to remove chickweed

If you want to maintain a healthy lawn, you need to remove chickweed before it takes over much of your lawn. Common weed removal strategies include mechanical methods such as manual weeding and the use of chemicals.

Hand weeding will effectively remove chickweed if done early in the growing season. Make sure you get the roots of the plant, otherwise they will grow back. When weeding, check your garden or flower beds for chickweed, which could spread to the lawn if left undisturbed. Be sure to remove the chickweed before the flowering period. Look for young trees 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 to worry about, then a non-selective herbicide could be a quick and effective option for removing chickweed. Similarly, post-emergent herbicides will work to eliminate chickweed. Many of these herbicides are made with ingredients effective against broadleaf weeds only so that they do not harm surrounding grasses. Be sure to check the active ingredients before using these products.

How to prevent chickweed

There are a variety of methods to control chickweed before it has germinated. Pre-emergent herbicides are one such method, and these chemicals can be applied to growing areas in late fall or early winter to prevent spring growth. Many of these are appropriate for use on turf and turf, but read the label on your product to check if it may cause any adverse effects on the soil or surrounding crops.

Natural methods can also be used to reduce the chance of chickweed germination. Try using an organic mulch, such as wood chips, spread in a thick layer to limit the amount of light reaching the soil. Doing so helps create a physical barrier that prevents weed growth and promotes a healthy lawn. An organic layer of mulch can also be supplemented with synthetic or black plastic mulch, which further limits growth.

Chickweed infestation can also be prevented by maintaining a thick, dense lawn. Be sure to keep pastures irrigated and fertilized according to best practices so that chickweed seedlings have the least chance of becoming infested.

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