A perfect lawn is a beautiful thing. It is also a thing of huge commitment. Keeping it green is relatively straightforward with the correct applications of the correct products. Keeping it weed free is a different job altogether.
Without meticulous care, that perfect lawn, can quickly become a bed of weeds. Still green, but best viewed from a distance, and maybe in the dark.
Here we give a brief overview of some of the most common lawn weeds found in the UK.
Best served with burdock, and even then, not overly appealing, the dandelion is possibly the most unsightly thing that grows in our great British gardens. As happy in a lawn as they are in a border, this common perennial will flower happily most of the way through the gardening season. Anchored by a large, tough taproot, pulling the whole plant out in one go is a feat rarely achieved. Its seeds are spread by air and will happily germinate where they land, making them a real nuisance in the garden. Given that the chances of pulling the whole root of a dandelion from the lawn are slim, and that any remnants will regenerate, application of a selective herbicide in late Autumn is the most effective way of dealing with them.
White Clover (Trifolium repens)
Tradition says that finding a four-leaf clover is lucky. Reality says that given the rarity of a four-leaved clover, if you find one in your lawn, it’s going to be nestled amongst a million of it three leaved friends, and there’s very little that’s lucky about that.
A perennial weed that sends out runners to quickly creep along a lawn, smothering the grass in it’s way. Typically found in lawns exposed to full sunlight, the white flowers that appear throughout Summer are a favourite of bees.
Clover grows well in poor conditions, and flourishes only in weak lawns. Eradicating clover is an extensive process that requires first removing all parts of all the existing plants, including the full root structure. Mowing clover once in flower will only worsen the situation, as it will cause the seeds to be broadcasted across the lawn. Once all plants are removed, application of high nitrogen-based fertilisers to improve the strength of the lawn will go a long way to limiting its chances of re-establishing. Moving forwards, meticulous inspection of the lawn will be required, ensuring to remove any new plants before they flower.
Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Ribwort plantain, and greater plantain, are unsightly and very common weeds in lawns. The depth of their root system makes them tolerant to poor conditions. As with clover, it is pivotal that these are dug out and removed before they have a chance to produce seed. If left to establish, these can cause unsightly patches in lawns once removed. For cases where Ribwort plantain is dominant, a selective post emergent herbicide is the best course of treatment.
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
The most common lawn weed on this list, and arguably the most loved weed in British horticulture. Daisy chains have a cemented place in tradition and childhood memories, yet unfortunately, when it comes to lawn care, they are undoubtedly a nuisance. An herbaceous perennial of the Asteraceae family, the common daisy can spread quickly through its runners, can grow in almost any soil condition and avoid being harmed by even the closest mowing due to it’s flat round leaves. Application in mid to late Spring of a selective herbicide, and a further treatment around six weeks later if required should be enough to keep them at bay for the season, but for small infestations, pulling them out with the use of a daisy grubber is the friendliest course of treatment.
Doves foot Cranesbill (Geranium molle)
An annual weed, this will only be present for a year before dying, though it’s bursting seed pods allow it to spread rapidly over a fair distance from the parent plant. Doves foot cranesbill is a geranium, and as such produces flowers that aren’t unattractive, albeit unwanted in a lawn. The most effective method of control is to hand pull the whole plant and destroy. Given its tendency to thrive in poor and neglected lawns, following removal, the only effective way is to encourage a healthy lawn as it will not be able to establish itself amongst strong competition.