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Q: The weeds on my lawn are terrible this year! What can I do?
• Carl of Canfield
A: I am with you. Weeds in the lawn can be difficult to control. You may also wonder why some weeds keep growing or seem to crawl overnight.
We are trying to fight our weed enemies, but we have to understand what we are up against.
For example, let’s take a look at a common green weed called a broadleaf plantain from the Plantaginaceae family. The name comes from the Latin word meaning sole of the foot and describes the shape of the leaves.
It is a perennial plant that returns every year. It can also regenerate from the roots if you just use your trimmer or mower to cut the leaves.
Broadleaf plantain reproduces mainly from seed – up to 14,000 per plant!
So how do we control broadleaf plantains?
First of all, I suggest using mulch to prevent weed growth. You can try digging up the plants as long as you weed often and remove all the roots as well. Cut the lawn higher, more than 3 inches this time of year, to discourage weeds and promote healthy turf.
On established lawns, you can use any of the chemical options that control many broadleaf weeds. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.
If you have a semi-shaded lawn, another example you might find is ground ivy or Creeping Charlie. It is a perennial green plant that is part of the mint family. The stems have a square cross section and the leaves are scalloped with blunt serrations at the edges.
Ground ivy grows like a vine and can form a mat like a carpet if left unchecked. From April to June it has purple flowers.
To control ground ivy, start by decreasing shade to increase sun exposure or by planting a shade-tolerant grass species. Do a soil test at this time of year to determine the fertility and pH of the soil. Testing the soil will also help you apply the correct amount of fertilizer to support vigorous grass growth.
Removing ground ivy by digging by hand can be difficult, you have to remove all the roots and stems or it will come back quickly.
Ground ivy can be treated in mid-spring or mid-fall with chemical controls as mentioned above. Be careful when using a sprayer so that chemical droplets do not drift in the wind or evaporate too quickly as nearby plants can be damaged.
Need help with control? Details on ground ivy are available at http://go.osu.edu/ivycontrol.
Additionally, we also have an Organic Lawn Care Information Sheet, available at http://go.osu.edu/lawn, which can help you with many cultural practices to improve your lawn.