How to Get Rid of Oxalis in Lawn (Kill & Control Oxalis Weed)

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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A perennial weed, oxalis can be a tenacious pest that sometimes gets mistaken for clover. However, this type of creeping wood sorrel can easily invade lawns and be difficult to get rid of. Perfectly at home in nearly any soil, oxalis weed spreads by seeds and rhizomes, which makes killing oxalis once and for all a challenge. However, determined gardeners can get rid of oxalis using the tips found here.

What Is Oxalis?

Part of the wood sorrel family of plants, oxalis are broadleaf weeds that are sometimes referred to as sour grass, creeping wood sorrel, and yellow wood sorrel. Because of its clover-like leaves, it’s easily mistaken for clover, but oxalis leaves are actually heart-shaped upon close inspection while the leaves of clover are round. Common yellow wood sorrel is known botanically as Oxalis stricta. This type of oxalis thrives in lawns, flower beds, and vegetable gardens alike once it invades. Oxalis corniculata, creeping wood sorrel, is also a tenacious weed that can invade lawns and gardens alike. 

Oxalis Identification

To identify oxalis, look for their heart-shaped leaves and yellow flowers. Although it resembles white clover, clover has rounded leaves. Oxalis weeds feature bright green leaves and produce tiny five-petalled flowers. The yellow flowers produce minute seeds, but remember that even if you prevent oxalis seeds from being produced, this aggressive weed can spread by its rhizomes. A perennial broadleaf weed, oxalis will keep returning without effective weed control. 

How to Eliminate Oxalis Weeds

In order to kill oxalis, you can rely on natural or chemical means; in either case, you’ll need to be determined, but chemical methods like weed killers make eradicating this common weed easier. 

Natural Methods

If you don’t want to use a commercial weed killer to get rid of oxalis, you can try hand pulling the weeds from your lawn and landscape beds. Pulling weeds by hand is usually not effective for controlling oxalis because of the plant’s deep root system and ability to spread by its rhizomes. The fragile breakable rhizomes will lead to the growth of oxalis seedlings; it’s just a matter of time. With its tough root system, oxalis is difficult to eradicate in a single season, and most gardeners will combat it in their lawns for several seasons before getting it under control or resorting to weed killers. If you’re determined to kill weeds by hand, consider pulling the young plants while they still have shallow root growth. Also, after mowing your lawn, get rid of the grass clippings where oxalis could be present. It can spread via clippings.

How to Kill Oxalis in Lawn

A broadleaf weed killer such as TZone SE Broadleaf Herbicide is ideal for killing oxalis in lawns and weed control. For large infestations of lawn oxalis, it may be necessary to use both a pre-emergent herbicide and a post-emergent herbicide. Avoid using a non-selective herbicide as it can harm good plants as well as weeds. Follow the instructions listed on your weed killer before use. 

How to Prevent Oxalis

To protect your lawn from oxalis weed invasion, it’s important to maintain its health. A thin lawn is an invitation to oxalis as well as other weeds to invade. Most lawns that are thick and healthy provide their own defense against weed growth. Grow a thick lawn in order to reduce the risk of an oxalis weed invasion. 

To grow a healthy lawn that can stand up to weeds like oxalis, water deeply, especially when nature’s sprinklers (rain) aren’t delivering an adequate water supply. Well-fed lawns with fertile soils can also help lawns combat common weeds like oxalis. 

Oxalis FAQs

How do you get rid of oxalis naturally?

You can attempt to get rid of oxalis by pulling it by hand, but this method will require several seasons of effort because of the plant’s ability to spread via its rhizomes in addition to its weed seeds.

How do you kill oxalis without killing plants?

For successful oxalis weed control, use a broadleaf weed killer that will target the weeds and not your lawn or landscape plants.

Does white vinegar kill oxalis?

Some people use white vinegar to kill oxalis, but it may not kill the weed in every case, making it less effective than a chemical weed killer.

Is oxalis hard to kill?

Yes. Oxalis weed is difficult to kill because of its ability to spread aggressively by seeds and its rhizomes. Gardeners have to be tenacious about weed control where oxalis is concerned in order to eradicate it from lawns and landscape beds.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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