Weeds are rarely welcome visitors in pristine lawns and gardens, although some weeds look deceptively like beautifully planted flowers. Weeds tend to be tough and resilient, holding your lawn or garden in a chokehold and smothering new grass and plants. Carpetweed, a common summer annual weed plaguing lawns and gardens, can be tricky to get rid of once it overtakes your lawn.
However, before you throw in the towel and let the carpetweed run rampant over your lawn, read through this guide. We review a few popular methods for ridding your lawn or garden of troublesome weeds, as well as a few tips for preventing the return of the weed, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is Carpetweed?
Mollugo verticillata, better known as carpetweed, is a common broadleaf annual weed that plagues lawns and gardens. The weed expands over the ground in a carpet-like mat, hence the name. This plant can spread up to two feet across the ground, lying close to the earth, which makes it unaffected by mowing.
The plant reseeds and spreads by dropping its seeds onto the soil. Once the plant finishes flowering, the seeds drop. Any nodes that come in contact with the earth can root, so it’s essential to catch the weed before it flowers.
What Does Carpetweed Look Like?
Carpetweed, as the name implies, spreads across the ground in a mat, rarely exceeding five inches in height. As the plant grows, its branches extend further outward from its central taproot. The stems are smooth and green, featuring stems that branch at nodes. The leaves are long and teardrop shaped, with a narrow portion extending from the branch and widening into a round shape at the end of each leaf.
In many cases, there’s a pinkish hue at the base of the nodes where they meet the axis. Once the plant flowers, you’ll see small, white-green star-shaped flowers in clusters on the plant’s stalks. The white flowers usually grow in groups of four or five on each branch.
After the flower, the plant produces tiny, egg-shaped seed capsules with thin walls. Each capsule is reddish-orange to reddish-brown in color and can contain up to 35 tiny seeds.
How Do You Manage Carpetweed?
Removing and permanently eliminating carpetweed from your lawn or garden can be complicated, especially if the plant has already gone to seed. Generally, it’s easiest to rid your lawn of carpetweed plants when the soil is moist, and the seeds haven’t flowered.
Vinegar is a popular alternative to chemical herbicides, as it works wonders on stubborn plants. If you prefer to steer clear of chemical herbicides, try using vinegar. However, it’s important to note that vinegar will kill any plant. So, don’t spray your entire lawn with vinegar.
Instead, spot-treat trouble areas where carpetweed thrives, such as small turf areas or cracks in your driveway. Be very cautious when applying vinegar to turf, as it can kill the grass around it. If you decide to use vinegar to tackle your carpetweed problem, simply pour undiluted vinegar on the plant near the root. After a while, the vinegar will kill the plants.
Once the plant dies, pull it up by hand and toss it in the trash or an area where it won’t create an issue.
Remove The Plants By Hand
You can always remove the plants by hand, providing there are only a few plants. If dozens of carpetweed plants cover your lawn in a thick mat, it’ll be difficult to remove the entire network of plants in one go. Of course, you can still remove them by hand, even if there are dozens of plants, but it might not be the easiest approach to the problem.
Before you remove the plant by hand, ensure the soil is moist, and the plant hasn’t flowered. Removing the plant after watering your lawn or after heavy rain might be easiest. When ready, grasp the plant at its base, as close as possible to the soil line. Pull the plant out of the ground, ensuring you get as much taproot as possible.
To ensure you remove as much as possible, use a dandelion weeding tool to tackle the project. Dispose of the plants in the trash or in a location where they won’t be bothersome. With this method, you might need to pull the plant several times before it’s entirely eradicated, as parts of the root may be left over.
Use An Herbicide
Herbicide is another option for eliminating carpetweed. Pre-emergent herbicides might not be practical for carpetweed, as the herbicide might not be active when the plant finally germinates. So, it’s crucial to select an herbicide appropriately.
Look for an herbicide labeled for use in carpetweed management and prevention. In addition, ensure the herbicide you choose is safe for children and pets (if applicable) and won’t harm nearby plants.
Read through the information on the label thoroughly, ensuring you pay attention to key pieces, including mixing, application timing, and method of application. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and follow-up. Be sure to store all herbicides in their original containers, out of the sun, and out of reach from children.
If the carpetweed in your lawn or garden has already gone to seed, you can add a thick layer of mulch to smother the seeds. Although this might not prevent growth every time, it can help diminish the possibility of a new carpetweed crop.
Can You Prevent Carpetweed In Lawns?
Prevention is vital for warding off many common weeds, including carpetweed. For this particular weed, the best defense is a well-maintained turf. Ensure you choose lawn grass that flourishes in your area, as this will help keep weeds out of the picture.
Maintain your lawn according to the grass type’s specific needs, irrigating as needed throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Mow the grass as needed, never chopping more than ⅓ of the blade height at a single time. Ensure the soil is aerated and healthy to promote strong grassroots.
Fertilize your lawn regularly on the correct schedule, as this will help keep the grass thick and healthy. If you’re unsure what fertilizer to use or how often to fertilize, research your grass type online for answers. For the most part, you need to fertilize at least three times each year. Of course, this can vary based on your grass type, so double-check for a good fertilization schedule for your grass type.
Treat the lawn as needed with herbicides whenever the grass is actively growing, and the weather allows. This helps the lawn fill in bare spots faster, ensuring weeds don’t take the place of the thin or bare areas. After you remove carpetweed and grass takes hold, it’s much harder for carpetweed to return to the area.
Remember, a sickly lawn is much more susceptible to weeds like carpetweed, whereas a thick, healthy lawn holds up much better.