Wonderful Weeds Weekly about: Weeds and Lawns

I found the information below interesting as many of my customers find weeds in their lawn unbearable.

They like a weed and moss-free, stripy cut lawn.

Well, this is quite an art in itself as I found out on this nice website: How to Create a Spectacularly Striped Lawn or Grass Pattern by Tim Stephens

A stripey lawn at Hodnet Hall Gardens (Picture by Matt Summers)

But to create this is a very high input and costly affair as it will need lots of maintenance with feed + weed-killers and watering in dry years!

Is this all worth it?

Maybe there is a market for a stripy astro turf!

Then, fortunately I also do have the more relaxed customers who just have a lot less lawn and more border; doing away with high maintenance lawns or they don’t mind the odd flower amongst the green blades.

Very rarely still I see a more botanically interesting lawn, where the native flora is allowed to prosper amongst those green blades.

It could never be boring and will always be different as to what type of plants will come up as this depends so much on your soil-type and condition.

Even the diaphanous stems of flowering grasses are beautiful and very useful for various moths & butterflies too.

One of our friends has decided not to cut his lawn for many years and it is fascinating to see how vegetation has reacted. Ant-hills have developed as a result which may attract the green-woodpecker. It has become a fascinating mini-nature-reserve!

A bumpy but very interesting wildlife meadow next to a perfect but boring lawn. (Picture by Matt Summers)

Below you can find the information provided by the Royal Horticultural Society, in case you still want to find out about those weeds and determined to eradicate them!

But please remember that weeds are just ordinary plants which are adapted to your garden environment, whilst the turf-grass is an ‘alien’, which need lots of nurturing to be able to prosper!

If you don’t like cutting the lawn the alternative is always a very beautiful, flower-rich, wildlife bennefiting Flower Meadow! But that is another subject…..

What are lawn weeds?

Although the term ‘weed’ is subjective, it is usually applied to invasive plants that compete with the grass for space to grow – clover and dandelions, coarse-leaved grasses, daisies and buttercups are just some examples.

Early identification and prompt removal can alleviate large-scale problems.

This can be as simple as following a yearly lawn maintenance plan.

The season starts with spring and summer care but autumn care is also particularly important.

There are several ways lawn weeds are often noticed:

  • The grass may look patchy, have an uneven growth rate or simply include areas that are a different colour or texture to the rest of the lawn
  • Flowers appear in the grass. This can occur even in a closely mown lawn, but often appears when the grass is allowed to grow longer
  • Patches may remain green during a drought. Lawn weeds may perform better or worse than the lawn grasses, staying green or turning brown. Last year many deep rooted weeds such as dandelion thrives as they were still able to draw on their food reserves.


Lawn weeds establish because they survive close, regular mowing. They spread by seed or creeping stems, and are usually problematic where the grass is sparse. 


As you may have guessed, dear reader, I do not like the use of herbicides so for this you will need to consult another site!

Non-chemical controls

There are a number of non-chemical options to try first;

  • Feeding, aerating and scarifying will encourage the grass to be more vigorous and so make it more difficult for the weeds to compete
  • Remove rosette-type weeds, such as dandelion, daisy and plantain, with a hand-fork
  • Dig out weeds resistant to weed-killers in autumn and re-turf or re-seed
  • Rake over and then mow to discourage creeping weeds such as speedwells, white clover, silverweed and sorrels
  • Apply garden lime to acid soils in the winter. Dress with lime at 50g per sq m (1½oz per sq yd) to deter weeds such as sorrels and field woodrush
  • Avoid close mowing, particularly with parsley piert and pearlwort, as this can weaken the grass and allow the weeds in 

What are coarse grasses in lawns?

In a lawn free of weed grasses, it should not be possible to easily make out the different grass species. Where different grasses are clearly distinguishable, coarse grasses are probably present. Early removal is important as there are no chemical controls. Coarser leaf blades may have poor drought tolerance or a tendency to flower at a low height.


Coarse grasses are easier to spot in a lawn than you might expect;

  • A lawn invaded by weed grasses will appear patchy, with some of the grass being of a different colour and texture to the rest of the lawn
  • In the case of Poa annua, commonly called annual meadow grass, flowering can occur below the height of cut so that small, pale seed heads give the lawn a peppered look
  • Some types of creeping grasses tend to become more apparent in periods of drought, particularly on light, quick-drying soils. The leaf-sheaths rapidly turn brown, giving the turf a burnt appearance

Also found an excellent website on identifying other weeds  in grass here: this shows weeds by colour of the flowers and by season.

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