The builder finished the house in January, with a firm promise to come back in April and do the landscaping. Due to late snows, the crew didn’t arrive until May and raced to plant rhododendrons and sow grass. What was supposed to be a beautiful yard ended up being a major project to remove chickweed the following year.
What is chickweed?
It’s a winter annual. This broadleaf plant is also called starweed, winterweed, bindweed and tongue grass, according to GardenGuides.com.
Chickweed spreads easily in the spring and tolerates hot and dry weather well. It’s often an annoyance in both laws and vegetable gardens since it spreads fast as the stems branch out along the soil, making weed control tough.
Although it’s a weed, practitioners of herbal medicine often use this plant for patients with asthma, coughs and fevers.
Gardening Know How reports that there are two species of this plant. Mouse-ear chickweed, a perennial, grows in dense patches close to the ground. The annual species, common chickweed, is usually much easier to control.
How to Remove Chickweed
The only effective way to rid a lawn or garden of this annoying weed is to pull it out of the ground. The idea is to tug as much of it as possible by hand. Fortunately, both species of chickweed have fairly shallow roots. The down side is that new plants can quickly grow from the rootstock of the mouse-ear species, so it’s essential to pull out the whole plant.
GardeningGuides.com advises using five steps for removal:
Step 1. It’s easiest to remove the weeds in mid-autumn. Using a small shovel will help remove as much chickweed as possible by hand. It’s important to wear latex gloves when handling the plants.
Step 2. Walking the area to figure the perimeter of the farthest plants is essential so that none get overlooked. Once the extent of growth has been determined, it’s time to mark the area where the chickweed is growing. The easiest way is to use small flags or wooden stakes purchased from a home improvement or lawn care store.
Step 3. Late autumn is the time to apply a post-emergent herbicide to the area where the chickweed was spotted. This prevents regrowth. Appropriate herbicides for this step are dichlorprop, triclopyr and dicamba, which lawn and garden retailers as well as some home improvement stores sell.
Step 4. Early spring means it’s time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. It should cover the area where chickweed grew the preceding spring before any seedlings emerged. Products for this step include dithiopyr, dacthal, pendimethalin and simazine. It’s important to follow the instructions on the container to steer clear of other areas of grass.
Step 5. The final step to get rid of chickweed is adding mulch to the area where last year’s crop appeared. Grass clippings, wood chips, manure, dead leaves and stripped bark will all work as mulch, provided the layer is one inch thick. The purpose of the mulch is to stop any lingering seeds from germinating.
While it’s also possible to dust the plants with ammonium sulfate to try to control the infestation, the only sure way to get chickweed out of the lawn or garden is to start by physically removing as much of each plant as possible.
Gardening Know How site