Weeds In My LawnBy Adina Dosan (adinamiti)
June 16, 2011
It's not so easy to keep a weed free lawn when you're surrounded by a wide-open field where lots of weeds are growing. I didn't think of that when I started my lawn. I was just so enthusiastic and happy to have a lawn of my own! When some of the grass in the new lawn started to seem a bit different, it became clear that something wasn't right because some of the leaves were much too large than the rest of the grass. This is when I started to search for the grass species names on internet, just to be sure I wasn't going to pull out the real grass.
I started with the names I've found on the seed box. Of the four different species of grass I'd sown in my lawn, I found Festuca arundinacea (Starlett), Festuca rubra (Maxima 1), Lolium perenne (Esquire) and Poa pratensis (Geronimo). The research on internet was fast and productive. While identifying what the real grass in my lawn looked like, I found out that the taller grass with large leaves weren't what I had sowed, but other grass species which are considered weeds. They must have been there all along, in the soil. When I started to make the garden, I needed more soil added over the original ground. I remembered how many of those weeds were growing on it and figured out how they popped up in the lawn. Some of the weeds, other than grass were well known to me, but with others I was just starting to make acquaintance. I didn't know that we were going to have a long relationship!
My husband and I had a long summer that year, spending most of the days off and vacations on the lawn, weeding, instead of laying on the grass in the sun. We got a nice tan, like we would have been to the seaside - at least everyone said that! Weeding in the lawn it's hard because, as you all know, the weeds don't just come out easy, like in plain soil. We needed a knife to help us pull out the weed. Some would come up with the whole root, but others wouldn't. In my research I've learned that most of the weeds have strong roots. Some have huge rhizomes deep inside the soil, while others have runners, but all were very hard to pull out. Our goal was to try to pull out as many as we could with their roots, so they won't pop up again. Most of the weeds in my lawn are grass species. I can't say if one is more dangerous than the other because they all are very hard to kill and they divide so fast through their extending roots and runners.
The first weed that popped up in my lawn was the so-called wild spinach, Chenopodium album, also called Lamb's quarters. Its leaves are similar to red orach and the blooms are similar to spinach. It grows very tall and, even if the roots are deep, it can be pulled out easily. That's why I got rid of those in a short time and they have hardly appeared again.
The worst of the weeds which made the most damage in our lawn was Sorghum halepense, also called Johnson grass. It grew so huge in our lawn, until we managed to pull all the 'monsters' out, that it left lots of empty spots in the lawn which I had to sow again.
Johnson grass has huge rhizomes in the ground and is very hard to pull out with roots. Even if they come out with some of the roots, the rhizomes are still there and they make more sprouts , especially when raining.
The plant is huge, compared to the grass in my lawn. It has strong, tall stalks and large leaves. If we hadn't weeded so well, by pulling out each plant, our lawn would have been compromised and suffocated by these weeds.
I managed to keep the lawn free of Johnson grass by weeding at least once a month, pulling out all the seedlings as soon as they were popping up. I still have Johnson grass in my lawn, mostly because of the seeds coming from the plants growing outside the fence. I was terrified when I saw those blooming, so I started to weed outside the fence too!
Avena fatua. also called Wild oat, is another noxious weed I can find in my lawn. It differs from the Johnson grass because it's smaller and the blooms are different.
The Hairy crabgrass - Digitaria sanguinalis, is easy to pull out, so I got rid of it on the first few weeding rounds.
Another weed is Cynodon dactylon, also called Bermuda grass or Devil's grass. It has very long and hard stems and a rootstock which is impossible to pull out from the lawn. The only thing I can do is pull out the stems with roots, if possible, or just rip them off and mow over them so at least they won't bloom anymore. They are dividing through the rhizomes and the nodes on the stems which root anywhere they touch the soil. In the veggie garden I can dig them out much easier, sometimes with the whole root clump. Bermuda grass is cultivated and used for sports fields and lawns in warm climates, such as all southern part of U.S. It also has healing properties, as hard as it is for me to believe!
Poa annua or annual bluegrass spreads on the ground and has a fibrous rootstock, also very hard to remove from the lawn. Yet, it is very much used for planting golf greens.
One grass which I couldn't remove yet, not only from my lawn , but also from the other parts of may garden is Deschampsia cespitosa, also called Tufted Hair-grass. It is cultivated as an ornamental grass, but it is also considered as a weed because it spreads very fast through its rhizomes.
Hordeum murinum, the False barley or Mouse barley, is a funny plant which invades my lawn every year because of its spike, also called 'mouse'. By mowing them down I'm trying to keep away the "mouses", but this grass is still blooming, no matter how small it is after mowing. Its leaves aren't growing up anymore; they are spreading like a small crabgrass on the ground; soon after mowing, a small "mouse" appears! Yet, I'm lucky because it's easy to pull out a Mouse barley; its roots aren't so deep.
I was amazed to find out that I also have in my lawn the grass which dogs appreciate so much when they have a tummy ache. This is Agropyron repens (Elytrigia repens) , also called Couch grass or Dog grass. It's also very hard to remove from the lawn because of the multiple runners.
White Clover, Trifolium repens has invaded my lawn and it's very hard to remove because of its stolons. I have to search through the grass, grab each stolon and follow it to the root; then dig up the root with a knife, hoping it won't pop out again; but it always does, through some of the roots I missed. Well, anyway, it's a nice plant and I love the blooms. The bees love it too! However, I'm always trying to mow them before they form seeds, just in case . Clover is highly cultivated as a fodder.
Creeping thistle, or Cirsium arvense, is very hard to eliminate from anywhere, not only from the lawn, because of its deep roots, with multiple rhizomes. It is considered a very invasive weed and I know what they mean by that. I have been fighting these thistles ever since I started the garden and the lawn, and they are constantly popping up in the same areas, although I'm pulling most of them out with their entire roots; or so I think! It seems I might be mistaken because they still have their rhizomes buried deep inside the ground. If you come over a Creeping thistle, don't try to pull it out without gloves, or you will hurt yourself. They have short spines on the stem and on the leaves; like they would need any other protection from extinction!
Polygonum aviculare , the Common knotgrass, another crabgrass species I can find in my lawn, it is considered a herb because of its uses as a healing plant . With its pink small flowers, it makes a nice cover on a wasteland, but it doesn't fit in a lawn , so I have to pull it out. It's easy to do that , even if the root is very long; I just have to gather all the stems spread on the ground and pull up.
Same goes for another weed, Capsella bursa pastoris - Shepherd's purse, also very easy to pull out. Its small white flowers are pretty, but they can spread fast which is why I've almost got rid of them. It is often used for medicinal purposes.
Similar to Shepherd's purse, but with yellowish flowers, is the False flax - Camelina sativa, cultivated for the oil contained in its small seeds. Recently it has been discovered that its seeds contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. It can also grow as a weed, which is why it grows in my lawn too. It seems that this plant has been growing in our country for thousands of years as an oilseed crop.
The prettiest, but most annoying weed is the Convulvulus arvensis also called Field Bindweed or Swallowtail's Dress, as we call it in Romania. It chokes the plants and is one of the most invasive species. I am pulling out thousands of Field Bindweeds, not to mention how many times I have to unfold them from the fence or from my plants. The roots are deep, but sometimes they come out easily; still they have rhizomes which produce more sprouts. I've found out that their seeds are viable for decades and only one plant can produce 500 seeds. What a terrifying perspective coming from such a pretty plant!
I was about to say that this is going to be the last of the weeds I have in my lawn, but no, there are far too many. I will just add one more, which is a pretty one, Anagallis arvensis. Also called Scarlet pimpernel, this cute invasive weed brings a smile on my face every time I see it blooming and starting to spread in my lawn. Sometimes I even let it be for a while because it's not that invasive and it's very easy to remove thanks to its thin roots which are very close to the surface.
I'd like to tell you more about the weeds , but I have so many waiting for me in the garden that I just can't stay and chat with you anymore. But I promise to be back later, when the weeds won't grow so fast like they are doing right now, after all the rain we got lately.
Happy Gardening to you all!