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Q: My lawn weeds are terrible this year! What can I do?
• Carl from Canfield
A: I’m with you. Weeds in the lawn can be difficult to control. You also may wonder why some weeds keep popping up or seemingly creeping in overnight.
We try to battle our weed enemies but need to understand what we are up against.
For example, let us examine a common green weed called broadleaf plantain of 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 comes back each year. It also can regenerate from roots if you just use your weed trimmer or mower to cut off the leaves.
Broadleaf plantain reproduces mostly from seeds — up to 14,000 per plant!
So how do we control broadleaf plantains?
First, I suggest the use of mulch to prevent weed growth. You can try digging out plants as long as you weed often and get out all the roots, too. Cut the lawn higher, at over 3 inches this time of year, to discourage weeds and to promote healthy turf.
On established lawns you can use one of the chemical options that controls many broadleaf weeds. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.
If you have an area of lawn that is semi-shaded, another example you may find is ground ivy or creeping Charlie. It is a perennial green plant that is a member of the mint family. The stems have a square cross section, and the leaves are scalloped shaped with blunt serrations on the edges.
Ground ivy grows like a vine and can form a carpet like mat if uncontrolled. During April through June, it has purple flowers.
To control ground ivy, start by decreasing shade to increase sun exposure or by planting a shade tolerant turf species. Do a soil test this time of year to determine the fertility and pH of the soil. The soil test will also help you apply an appropriate amount of fertilizer to permit vigorous growth of turf.
Removing ground ivy by hand digging can be difficult, you must remove all the roots and stems or it will quickly return.
Ground ivy can be treated in the mid-spring or mid-fall with chemical controls as mentioned above. Be careful when using a sprayer so the chemical droplets do not drift in the wind or evaporate too quickly as nearby plants can be damaged.
Need assistance with control? Details on ground ivy are at http://go.osu.edu/ivycontrol.
Also, we also have a factsheet on organic lawn care, found at http://go.osu.edu/lawn that can help you with many cultural practices for improving your lawn.
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