A Guide to 10 of the most common lawn weeds

A Guide to 10 of the most common lawn weeds

WINTER GRASS

About the weed

Winter Grass is a widespread weed problem throughout Australia and is more prevalent in winter and spring.

Winter Grass is characterised by its prolific seed production which makes it hard to manage.

If seeds appear, they are quick to germinate, and it is more than likely you will have Winter Green in your lawn again the following year.

The Winter Grass weed is a pale green colour with smooth leaves and has a white cotton-like root zone.

While Winter Grass is easy to remove my hand, as there is so much of it often it grows back.

Control

There are two methods of controlling Winter Grass –post-emergent and pre-emergent herbicide control.

Post-emergent control is when you selectively poison out the Winter Grass weed after it germinates (for example, during the autumn and winter months).

The most important thing is to apply the post-emergent control exactly as directed. The herbicide can take a considerable amount of time to work, anywhere from between two weeks and two months.

If the post-emergent is applied too late into the winter, it can be hard to get a result.

Pre-emergent control works on the basis that you control the seed before it germinates which is an easier way to manage the problem. Application is usually going into winter.

There are products available at your Local Garden Centre that literally stop the Winter Grass seed from germinating – meaning you won’t see it come winter. 

Most important, be sure to check that the pre-emergent and post-emergent controls are suitable for use on your type of lawn. 

SUMMER GRASS 

About the weed

Summer Grass is a common fast-growing weed, found Australia-wide, that sends out shoots in all directions from its centre during conditions of high heat and humidity.

Summer Grass spreads prolifically through its stolons, with stems that can be brown or red in colour and thin grey-green leaves with fine spiky seed heads that shoot upwards. 

When first noticed in your lawn, Summer Grass should removed immediately by hand as it competes with your turf for nutrients and growing space.

Summer Grass goes to seed during autumn and if not controlled re-emerges the next year.

Competition is greatest from Summer Grass when it is thin and open, the mowing height is incorrect and light frequent irrigations are applied.

Control

Once Summer Grass appears it is hard to control so prevention is the key and feeding your lawn with fertiliser will assist.

During early to mid-spring, apply a pre-emergent herbicide (one that stops Crabgrass from developing) and acts by preventing the weed from germinating in the soil.

For a pre-emergent to work it must be applied before emergence of the Summer Grass.

A post-emergent control is also effective but ask for advice at your Local Garden Centre as to which control to use and whether it is suitable for your lawn.       

MULLUMBIMBY COUCH

About the weed

Mullumbimby Couch grows year-round and is a mat-forming grass-like plant with long underground runners and upright flowering stems measuring up to 40cm in height.

The weed has tough long, rhizomes which are red to purple in colour and stems that are triangular in cross-section.

Mullumbimby Couch has bright green leaves (10cm to 30cm wide) that are hairless and sheath the stem at the base.

Its pale green seed-heads (60cm to 70cm long) have three or four green leafy bracts at the base and contain numerous small flower spikelets which appear throughout spring and summer.

Mullumbimby Couch has ‘seeds’ yellow to reddish-brown in colour. 

Conducive growing conditions for Mullumbimby Couch occur when there is excessive soil moisture and humidity.

Mullumbimby Couch is a member of the Sedge family and can quickly colonise areas of the garden by setting seed and underground rhizomes.

Control

Control of Mullumbimby Couch is difficult. You can use a spade to remove the weed but ensure that no roots or bulbs are left in the soil or it will reappear.

Alternately either a post or per-emergent herbicide can be used to control Mullumbimby Couch but first check with your Local Garden Centre that it is suitable for your lawn type.

NUT GRASS

About the weed

Nut Grass is a long-lived grass-like plant that is a member of the Sedge family and can be found in your lawn year-round.

The weed usually grows to about 20cm to 50cm in height and produces a network of creeping underground stems with small tubers (100cm to 250cm long).

Nut Grass has upright flowering stems that are smooth and three-angled in cross section.

The weed has very narrow leaves (7cm to 20cm long and 20cm to 60cm wide) which are borne in a tuft at the base of the stems.

Its seed heads have three to eight branches that vary in length (up to 10cm long) and are supported by two to four green leafy bracts.

The easiest way to distinguish Nut Gras is through the branches which have several elongated reddish-brown or purplish-brown flower spikelets (100cm to 250cm long and 20cm to 25cm wide).

Control

Nut Grass control is very similar to that of Mullumbimby Couch and is also difficult to control.

A spade can be used to remove the weed but ensure no roots or bulbs are left in the soil or it will reappear.

Alternately either a post or per-emergent herbicide can be used to control Nut Grass but first check with your Local Garden Centre that it is suitable for your lawn type.

PASPALUM

About the weed

Paspalum is one of the most difficult weeds to control and predominantly found in the south-eastern states of Australia.

It is a long-lived tufted grass growing up to 1.5m tall with slightly folded leaf blades at the base which are usually hairless.

Paspalum’s seed-heads are borne at the tips of upright flowering stems and have 2-11 branches (2.5cm-11cm long) that are alternatively arranged along a main stalk.

Each Paspalum seed-head branch bears numerous small flower spikelets that are covered with hairs.

Paspalum mainly grows throughout the warmer months from late spring to autumn.

The weed prolifically spreads through its sticky seeds which easily grasp onto pets and shoes before been relocated.

Control

Like with most weed control, removing by hand is the best method as long as the entire plant and roots are removed.

Alternately if Paspalum is throughout your entire lawn ask your Local Garden Centre for the appropriate post or pre-emergent herbicide that is suitable for use on your lawn. Application is usually recommended during the warmer months.

CROWSFOOT GRASS

About the weed

Crowsfoot Grass is a hardy annual weed that grows during spring, summer and autumn.

It is a tufted, short-lived, grass with spreading of semi-upright stems growing up to 60cm tall.

Crowsfoot has leaf sheaths that are prominently keeled with a membranous structure (5cm to 10cm long) at the base of the leaf blade.

Its narrow leaf blades (3cm to 35cm long and 30cm to 80cm wide) are mostly hairless.

Crowsfoot Grass has seed-heads with 1-15 branches (3.5cm to 15.5cm long) that radiate outwards from the same point.

Numerous flower spikelets (35cm to 70cm long) are densely arranged along the seed-head branches.

Crowsfoot grows in all soil conditions and can survive in heavily compacted areas where Couch grass won’t grow and may survive for more than a year in climates not subject to frost

This low-growing weed is capable of setting seed even when closely mown.

​Control

Pre and post-emergent herbicides are best used to combat this Crowsfoot Grass but first seek advice from your Local Garden Centre as to which product best suits your lawn variety.

DANDELION WEEDS

About the weed

Dandelions have green leaves edged with teeth’ that grow mostly flat to the ground and are distinguished by their bright yellow flowers that fade to form a white puffball.

They appear in spring and autumn in lawns that aren’t as full and healthy as they could be.

Above-ground, Dandelion seeds ride the wind currents, and drop into the slightest opening in your lawn and propagate.

Below-ground, the Dandelion weed lays down a taproot up to 25cm long however, pulling the taproot as a means of removal is problematic.

The Dandelion’s thick, brittle roots easily split, and any fraction left behind will regenerate.

Control

With careful digging and pulling the Dandelion weed can be removed by hand.

However, using a pre or post-emergent herbicide in conjunction with a lawn feeder to promote vigorous growth that encourages the absorption of the control and kills the weed is also advised.

Check with your Local Garden Centre when buying a herbicide to make sure it is suitable for your lawn type.

WHITE CLOVER

About the weed

White Clover is a classic three-leaf clover with bright green leaves adorned with white crescent shapes.

It appears from spring through to autumn and usually in thin lawns with nutrient-poor soil.

White Clover grows in a creeping manner and will develop roots wherever a stem node touches the ground.

The flowers on White Clover are spiky and white with a brownish green centre.

Control

If White Clover is established in your lawn you can start by hand removal.

However, if White Clover is prolific throughout your lawn then a pre or post-emergent herbicide is recommended but first check with your Local Garden Centre to ensure it is suitable for your lawn type.

It is important to note that killing White Clover weed is easy but killing the White Clover seed is not.

White Clover has seeds that can survive high heat, low temperatures and can stay dormant for years before germinating.

Therefore, be prepared to hand weed or use a herbicide once a year to control the White Clover plants that emerge from the seeds.

BINDI WEED

About the weed

Bindi Weed is a broadleaf winter annual that is also known as Lawn Burweed and Spurweed.

It is a very invasive, low growing weed that produces bur-like fruit that poses a hazard to humans and animals due to their sharp edges.

The weed evolves during winter and develops carrot-like leaves, during spring it produces a single flower that matures to form a prickly seed pod with three spines.

Control

The best time to remove Bindi Weeds is during late winter or spring.

If you only have a small amount of Bindi in your lawn, then hand removal is suitable if you remove the plant along with the roots.

If your lawn is rife with Bindi, then a suitable pre or post-emergent herbicide can be found at your Local Garden Centre but make sure you use one that is appropriate for your lawn type.

OXALIS WEED

About the weed

Oxalis can appear like a miniature clover plant, but it bears tiny yellow flowers.

Some gardeners occasionally grow Oxalis for groundcover but for most of us it is an annoying weed.

Oxalis is a perennial weed, which spreads through interlocking rhizomes that are easy to break apart, these rhizomes eventually produces tiny bulbils.

The seeds of Oxalis are prolific and ejected when ripe from tiny seed pods that look like mini okra.

Anywhere the stem touches the ground the Oxalis weed can root, potentially producing more and more plants.

Oxalis also forms a fleshy taproot and an extensive branching root system which can make it challenging to manage.

Control

Hand removal can be done but it is slow and laborious, and it may take several seasons to remove the Oxalis from your lawn.

One of the most effective methods is to use a post or pre-emergent herbicide but first check with your Local Garden Centre to ensure it is suitable for your lawn variety.

 

 

 

 

 

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