Known for its small white flowers that bloom in the spring months, chickweed is an invasive lawn weed that can quickly infiltrate lawns. It is an annual weed that grows low to the ground and produces seeds in the fall that often emerge during the following spring.
While chickweed is never a welcome sight on any lawn, the good news is that it’s fairly easy to treat if it emerges and it’s even more convenient to prevent this lawn weed from growing in your grass in the first place. We’ll cover everything you need to know about chickweed in this post. Here’s a closer look:
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Chickweed is one of the most common fall/winter broadleaf weeds I see around here in New England – the two types being mouse-ear and common chickweed. These annual weeds germinate in the fall and winter and if left untreated, can quickly and aggressively spread in a prostrate manner. I’ve found that a selective three- or four-way herbicide like Speedzone or T-Zone in the fall (and early spring) is enough to knock out chickweed from my lawns and landscape beds.
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How to Identify Chickweed
Chickweed is a common perennial weed that tends to thrive in moist soil and form dense mats over the areas of the lawn that it infests. It’s characterized by chickweed flowers, which are white and star-like, and features a shallow root system, small egg-shaped leaves, and hairy leaves stems.
Also known as “stellaria media,” common chickweed spreads by reproducing weed seeds through its entire root system. Mouse ear chickweed is another type of this annual weeds. Chickweed germinates in the fall or late winter and the chickweed seeds complete their life cycle in the spring when they often grow in newly seeded lawns or tender new grass.
If you’re not diligent about preventing or removing chickweed at the first signs of the white flowers in your lawn, it could quickly take over the actively growing lawn.
In the next section, we’ll cover how to kill chickweed that have begun to emerge in your lawn. Later on, we’ll talk about the steps to take in preventing chickweed from growing altogether.
How To Kill Chickweed
One of the nice things about treating existing chickweed is that it’s fairly easy to do without damaging new plants, garden areas, or your new lawn. Here’s a look at how to stop and kill chickweed:
Remove chickweed by hand
Hand weeding or hand pulling is a tried and true way to safely remove chickweed from the affected area on your lawn. As we noted in the above section, the common chickweed stellaria media is known for its shallow roots which should make it fairly easy to remove by hand. Just be sure to remove the entire plant, as plants may develop from mouse ear chickweed roots and chickweed seeds if left on the lawn.
Use herbicide weed killer in early spring
Selective weed killers containing 2,4-D or non-selective herbicides can be used for spot treatment on chickweed infestation and other weeds in the lawn after they emerge. Just be sure to follow any instructions carefully prior to use and don any personal protective equipment to avoid personal injury as well as damage to other plants. We like TZone SE Herbicide to kill and control chickweed.
Use a fertilizer, weed killer combination
If you want to do more than just spot spray or spot treat, consider using a fertilizer and weed killer combination. This will help contribute to a chickweed-free lawn and also feed your lawn so it can continue to flourish.
How To Control and Prevent Chickweed
As is the case with most weeds, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive with weeds – and it’s a lot easier to prevent than to get rid of chickweed. Here’s a look at how you can prevent and control chickweed from taking over your lawn:
Brush up on your lawn care routine
One enemy of chickweed is a healthy lawn. Chickweed tends to prefer damp soil and compacted soil, so be sure to aerate your lawn regularly and fill bare patches with new grass seed. It’s also important to feed your lawn with fertilizer to help roots emerge and avoid the growth of this hardy weed and others.
Feed Your Lawn
We touched on this above, but it’s worth mentioning it again here. A great way to prevent chickweed and other weeds is to feed your lawn with fertilizer in the spring, summer and then again in the fall. Fertilizing your lawn will encourage deep roots and prevent weeds from infiltrating it. Mouse ear chickweed and common chickweed will take over thin or malnourished grass. Fertilizing and feeding your lawn can help with healthy grass throughout the lawn.
Is chickweed bad for lawns?
Whether you’re dealing with mouse ear chickweed or common chickweed, these weeds can quickly overtake your lawn if you don’t treat them quickly or take measures to prevent them from emerging in the first place.
How did chickweed get in my lawn?
If you’re frequently wondering why there’s chickweed in your lawn, it helps to understand how it likely got there. It’s common in moist, neutral pH soil types, and most lawns that play host to it feature compacted soil. The best way to prevent chickweed and annual weeds from emerging as a lawn weed in your grass is to ensure you keep a healthy lawn.