Are there green plants in your turf with wide (10mm) leaves?
Is your lawn older than one year or newly seeded?
Is your turf thin (sparse), can you see bare soil patches in your lawn?
If you answer yes to the above questions, your lawn has broadleaf weeds growing in it. Read on to learn how to determine which weed(s) you might have and how to rid your lawn of them.
Broadleaf weeds are so called, because they produce leaves that generally are oval or elongated, and are wider than a grass leaf. In fact, broadleaf weeds have many biological differences compared to turfgrass, and this allows them to be controlled very effectively in turf. The point should be made that the concept of 'weed' is man-made, and simply means an unwanted plant. The broadleaf plants that can grow in your lawn are not harmful to you or your turf. There are many broadleaf weeds that can appear in your turf, but the four listed below are the most common.
Common weeds found in turf:
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Buttercup (Ranunculus repens/acris)
Clover (Trifolium repens)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Why do weeds appear in turf?
Weeds establish themselves in your turf because the turf is thin (sparse) and open (soil is visible). The seeds of weeds are everywhere turf is grown, but a thick, healthy turf will prevent most weeds from growing. Weeds do not 'like' to compete with a strong, thick turf. If you have weeds in your turf when it is delivered, you have purchased poor quality turf. However, before you call your landscaper or turf producer, check to see if the weeds are growing up through the joints or on the edges of your turf. If the weeds are there, your turf installation was not as good as it should have been. Weed seeds will be in the ground that you laid your turf on. Most seeds can not easily germinate and grow through quality turf, but once in a while they do. To minimise weed seeds from growing up through your new turf, prepare your soil properly.
If weeds appear in turf that was laid more than a year ago, it is because the turf has become thin (sparse) or damaged. When a weed seed can fall to the soil and has room to grow, it will. The best way to prevent weeds from getting established is to maintain a thick and healthy turf. Fertiliser and the lawnmower are your best tools for this job.
How to remove weeds from your lawn
Once weeds are in your turf, you need to remove them. There are two ways to remove them: dig them out; or kill them with a herbicide. There is nothing wrong with digging them out, and it is good exercise and environmentally safe. Most of the common weeds that appear in lawns will dig out easily if the soil is moist, but a few will not and these need to be sprayed. When digging a weed out, it is best to use a sharp knife or weed digging tool (both can be found in a garden centre). Slide the knife down under the weed and cut off the root. Then, pull the weed out and discard it away from your turf. If you leave the weeds on or near your turf, they could discharge their seeds, and your problem will grow again.
Dandelions, buttercup, and daisies can be easily dug out of your turf, but clover is difficult to remove with a knife. To remove clover, a herbicide is generally used. You should dig up a small sample of the weed you want to remove from your turf and take it to your garden centre expert. They will tell you what it is and what to use to control it. When weeds are treated with a herbicide (weedkiller), it will take them more than a week to die. After they are dead, you can rake up the dead plants and discard them.
What to do after you remove the weeds
After the weeds are removed, care for your turf properly. If your turf was mostly weeds or if there are bare spots in your turf, you may need to purchase a new turf or overseed.
How to prevent weeds from establishing in your turf
The best method is to grow thick, healthy turf, but you can also use selective herbicides to control some weeds. Weed controlling herbicides are applied like fertiliser, and this is usually done in the spring. Check with your garden centre expert for advice on these products.
Overseeding as part of your annual lawn maintenance regime will give your lawn a denser sward and help prevent weeds encroaching.
Always start with quality turf. If the soil under your turf is exposed, weeds will grow there. Good gardening and turf care are the best methods to prevent weeds from invading your turf.