You really can’t blame them: If you were a weed, wouldn’t you want to make Charlotte your home? These uninvited guests, however, get in the way of us keeping lawns beautiful.
If you don’t want to have your yard become a weedy welcome mat, the key is to spot them early and take care of weeds as they come up. Here’s a guide for controlling the worst weeds in Charlotte.
This perennial plant once was a standard part of grass seed mixes. But once chemical herbicides were introduced after World War II, clover was redefined as a weed by the industry. Clover will come back year after year, left unchecked. Winter frost doesn’t slow it down one bit, either. Clover likes nothing better than poorly fertilized grass because it has the upper hand. To beat this persistent weed, start by fertilizing in the spring and fall to give your lawn an advantage. Keep the grass mowed high — 3 inches or taller — to give it an edge over the clover. The last resort is using a broadleaf herbicide to spot-treat the clover, But only do this if your efforts to have the grass overpower the clover fail.
This annual winter weed will creep in beginning in early fall and will persist until spring. Left unchecked, it can spread into large patches. The organic way to control chickweed is to pull up any of the shallow-rooted plants as they come up. You’ll then need to aerate and reseed to fill in any of the gaps in the turf left behind. Some pre-emergent treatments will kill chickweed when applied in the early spring, and post-emergents will work in the fall. Mow often to prevent these plants from going to seed, at which point a pre-emergent may be the best choice.
Hairy bittercress may sound like an ingredient in a Harry Potter spell but will feel like a curse if you ever try to pull it up by the roots. This annual winter weed will send small explosions of seeds in all directions. During winter and spring, go on a bittercress patrol a couple of times a week and pull any emerging plants. Once the seeds start popping, you will have a much bigger problem the following year. Frequent mowings can keep this pesky weed in check, but a severe infestation calls for broadleaf herbicide treatment.
From late fall to spring, this opportunistic weed loves to invade patchy lawns in shady spots. Begin surveying the yard in late summer to scope out any of the telltale purple leaves as it begins to emerge. Hand weed any henbit you find in these first weeks of emergence, and you should be well-positioned to win the battle. Treat any heavy infestations with a pre-emergent in the fall.
Often mistaken for henbit, this relative of mint is one of the most aggressive lawn weeds around. If you’re able to spot it early and pull it up by the roots, you’ll be in good shape, but if you have an infestation, you’re in trouble. A pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide may be the only way to take care of a bad case of purple deadnettle.
Bear in mind that for each of these weeds and countless others, the best offense is a good defense. Aerating, mowing properly, watering and fertilizing at the right times, helps in controlling the worst weeds in Charlotte. Remember, the more energy you put into keeping the lawn healthy and happy, the less time you will spend fighting off weeds.
Looking to learn more about lawn care and gardening in Charlotte? Visit our Charlotte Lawn Care page.