After hours of toil, watering and care, there’s nothing quite like having your lawn looking absolutely great just in time for summer. However try as you might, there always seems to be a pesky weed or two that makes it through, and if we’re not careful, one weed can soon turn into an outbreak.
In Australia we’re unfortunately susceptible to a wide variety of invasive weed species, some even masquerading as grass, that if not treated properly can cause all sorts of damage.
We know how important our customers’ lawns are to them. They hold pride of place and need to be looking their best at all times. We’ve put together this handy blog so our customers are in better position to first identify the type of weed that they are dealing with, then select the most appropriate selective herbicide to eradicate the problem without causing damage to their existing type of lawn.
How to Identify Weeds
Weeds can take many forms and typically produce large numbers of seeds, assisting in their spread. In Australia there are two types of lawn weeds; grass weeds and broadleaf weeds.
Grass weeds are harder to identify and as the name suggests have a grass-like appearance.
They have a fibrous root system, and own a single seed leaf (cotyledon). The leaf veins are parallel and don’t have a main vein. They are also characterized by a lack of woody parts and leaf stalk. Common examples of grass weeds include: Winter Grass, Crowsfoot Grass, Crabgrass, Summer Grass, Mullumbimby Couch, Nutgrass, and Paspalum.
Broadleaf weeds are a bit easier to identify, resembling a full-grown leafy plant. They have a very pronounced vein and actual veins around them. Their leaves are made from a blade and a leaf stalk and own two cotyledons. Finally their root system has a taproot and lateral roots. Common examples of broadleaf weeds include: Oxalis, Dandelions, White Clover, Bindii, Thistle, Lambs tongue, and Pennyweed.
Now that you know a little bit more about the general types of weeds, let’s go through some identifying factors for specific types of weeds that may target your lawn.
|Winter Grass||Grass Weed||Pale green colour with smooth leaves. Soft to the touch with long off-white seed heads, and a white cotton-like root zone.|
|Crowsfoot Grass||Grass Weed||Narrow leaf blades that are mostly hairless. Crowsfoot has leaf sheaths that are prominently keeled with a membranous structure at the base of the leaf blade.|
|Crabgrass||Grass Weed||Grows in small bunches and a wide leaf blade, will send out tough long stems with fingers of seed heads at its tips.|
|Summer Grass||Grass Weed||Stems can be brown or red in colour. It has thin grey-green leaves with fine spiky seed heads that shoot upwards.|
|Mullumbimby Couch||Grass Weed||Mat-forming grass-like plant with long underground runners and upright flowering stems. It has bright green leaves that are hairless and sheath the stem at the base.|
|Nutgrass||Grass Weed||Has very narrow leaves with upright flowering stems that are smooth and three-angled in cross section. Easiest way to identify is through the branches which have several elongated reddish-brown or purplish-brown flower spikelets.|
|Paspalum||Grass Weed||Is a tufted grass with slightly folded leaf blades at the base which are usually hairless. Contains upright flowering stems that are alternatively arranged along a main stalk.|
|Oxalis||Broadleaf Weed||Looks very similar to a tiny 3-leaf clover but it bears tiny yellow flowers. It spreads through interlocking rhizomes that eventually produce tiny bulbils.|
|Dandelions||Broadleaf Weed||Have fairly long stems and long leaves that grow mostly flat to the ground. Are distinguished by their bright yellow flowers that fade to form a white puffball (you probably picked these as a child).|
|White Clover||Broadleaf Weed||Has a classic three-leaf clover with bright green leaves adorned with white crescent shapes. Produces flowers that are spiky and white with a brownish green centre. They grow in a creeping manner and will develop roots wherever a stem node touches the ground.|
|Bindii||Broadleaf Weed||Short plant that has long prickly leaves. It grows in the shape of a rosette and has small flowers in its centre. During spring it produces a single flower that matures to form a prickly seed pod with three spines.|
|Thistle||Broadleaf Weed||Very easy to distinguish. It has long, sharp leaves with many tiny pickles, grows fairly tall, and blooms bright purple flowers.|
|Lambs tongue||Broadleaf Weed||Grows in a rosette formation, has soft, hairy leaves and no lobes, with long stems that end with white flowers.|
|Pennyweed||Broadleaf Weed||One of the most common Australian lawn weeds. It has small, round leaves that are similar to pennies.|
On top of manual removal, which can be tedious for a large area, herbicides when used appropriately are an effective way of treating weeds and helping your lawn remain free of invasive species. There are two types of herbicides available: selective and non-selective.
Non-selective herbicides kill all weeds and your grass, so are not effective if you want to preserve your lawn. On the other hand, selective herbicides target one or a couple of types of weeds and grasses, and have minimal effects on other plants and lawns.
Common active ingredients present in selective herbicides include: fluroxypyr, dicamba, clopyralid, or florasulam. In order to be most effective, most selective weed killers use a mixture of the above. Leading brands offering these types of products include; Round-Up weed control, Yates Ready to use zero rapid, and Nufarm Kamba M selective herbicide.
When selecting the appropriate type of selective herbicide to use, you need to be extra careful as some of them can also kill off certain varieties of the healthy grass around the plants that you are trying to remove. Therefore it’s of vital importance to read all the manufacturer’s recommendations and directions present on the label.
This will help you determine not only whether it’ll be effective against treating the specific type of weed you’re targeting, but also whether it’s compatible with your lawn variety and will not cause any further damage. When choosing a herbicide, make sure you also take into account any further environmental considerations that may apply to your circumstances such as kids, pets, or wildlife.
When it comes to application, make sure that any herbicide mixtures are made to directions and you wear protective clothing including gloves when handling any chemicals or poisons.
Everyone who owns a home knows how much time and effort goes into keeping your lawn looking nice and tidy. There’s the constant fertilising, watering and mowing, but it’s all worth it, just to see the finished product of a pristine looking lawn.
Unfortunately if we’re not careful, it’s very easy, for an invasive weed species, to first get a foothold, and then easily spread into an outbreak.
Your first step in eradicating this problem is to first identify the type of weed species you’re dealing with (remember to look for the identifying factors of a grass or broadleaf weed and then more specific characteristics). This will arm you with vital information to select an appropriate selective herbicide to deal with the problem.
In order to limit any damage and avoid any subsequent problems, remember to read all the manufacturer recommendations to find a product that is compatible with your particular lawn variety and any other environmental factors applicable to your particular situation.
We can help your lawn stay weed-free and looking its best possible all year round.
(Credit Hi-Quality Turf)