Also known as drymaria, heartleaf drymary or whitesnow, a chickweed infestation in your lawn can be frustrating to deal with – so how do you get rid of it?
As many gardeners already know, lawns right around the nation have experienced a rollercoaster of conditions this year. Depending on where you live in Australia, the grass may have been scorched bone-dry from summer heat waves, received a lack of sunlight thanks to cloudy conditions, spent weeks underwater with recent flooding, or a combination of all three.
Even if you’ve thus far managed to avoid any severe weather events, winter is always a tough time for lawns. While many of us retreat inside to avoid the colder conditions, almost all varieties of turf must defend themselves from an unwelcome invader: chickweed.
How To Manage A Chickweed Infestation
As an annual winter and perennial flowering plant, chickweed is originally native to Eurasia. Although it was first formally recorded in Tasmania and Queensland in 1875, it had already been reported as ubiquitous and widespread in Joseph Hooker’s 1859 ‘Flora of Australia’.
Originally used as a vegetable crop and ground cover for poultry consumption, today chickweed isn’t considered to be as noxious as many other weeds, and some gardeners even purposefully grow it for its edible and medicinal properties.
However, chickweed in lawns is a different matter entirely. As it’s known to grow at ferocious speeds, the white flowers of a chickweed plant bloom in clusters, and can quickly spread with the goal of taking over the entire lawn.
Extremely fond of damp environments and moist soil, chickweed is distributed by seeds. While this makes it easier to stay on top when compared to other noxious varieties, it does mean that chickweed is easily spread by wind, water, mud, vehicles and even pets.
To identify chickweed, keep an eye out for their green and hairless stems that are sparsely covered with sticky hairs. Leaves are grown from stalks, and are kidney shaped in appearance. Unfortunately, by the time the white flowers appear, it usually means that chickweed has grown far too comfortable in your lawn.
Although many homeowners opt to remove chickweed from their lawn by hand, it can disrupt and disperse seeds, meaning that the plant will germinate again next year. In comparison, prevention is often the easiest approach to avoiding chickweed, and a well maintained lawn that’s regularly mowed will help to discourage this type of weed.
For the ideal approach to mowing as a weed deterrent, this usually depends on your turf species and overall climate. Cool season grass species like tall fescue, rye and bluegrass should be mowed shorter to let warmth into the thatch, especially in shaded areas. For warm season grasses that grow with runners, it’s best not to cut too close during cooler months. This higher mowing level will protect the plant to some degree from frost, and will help the turf bounce back in spring.
However, if you’ve missed the boat on preventative measures, many gardeners make the mistake of turning to chemical based herbicides. Much like pesticides, many of these types of products include some pretty dangerous chemicals, and can have unintended yet nasty after effects on both you and your lawn.
In comparison, a glyphosate-free weed killer like Bioweed is a safe way to keep weeds under control. As a non-residual solution, it will break down into the soil in as little as 72 hours and can combat over 200 invasive weed species, including chickweed. However, it is important to remember that Bioweed is a non selective weed killer so spot spraying is required.
As Bioweed is a non-systemic product, it’s not reliant on the plant’s ability to take up the weed killer. Rather, it works by stripping the outer layer of the plant, and can therefore be used year-round with fantastic results. The best part? It’s not just exclusive to lawns, and can be used to defend your garden or even pastures against a large variety of foreign invaders.
Using An Eco Friendly Weed Killer For Lawns
Australians care about what they put into their bodies, and what types of products they bring into their homes. Even if you don’t share your abode with pets or kids, opting for eco-friendly gardening products is a way to minimise our impact on the world around us.
With a team of highly experienced plant and gardening enthusiasts, the team at Bioweed are armed with a wealth of knowledge, tips and tricks that can help you to get your lawn and garden looking their very best. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re looking for further organic gardening solutions.