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person removing weeds from grass
Identify, target and kill off invading pests – here’s your almanac to lawn weeds.

Usual suspects

If you have a lawn, the chances are you will eventually have weeds at some point. But not all weeds are the same, nor can they be controlled in the same way. The first step to dealing with weeds is to identify the weed and then choose the right form of control. Here’s how to identify common lawn weeds and how to treat them.

Bindii (Solvia pterosperma) and clover (Trifolium spp.)

Bindii needs no introduction. We’ve all felt its prickly burrs at some point! And similarly, we’ve all seen the distinctive tri-leaved clover growing in the lawn. Both weeds are incredibly common in lawns and need to be treated early to prevent them from taking over.

When young, bindii has fine-leaved foliage that typically starts to appear from late autumn or early winter. This is the best time to treat with a selective herbicide. Once the weeds set seed in late spring or early summer, it is too late to try and control the burrs. Clover can be treated in the same way, although, for severe infestations, repeat applications will be required to get it under control.

Weeds growing up through dead grass

Creeping oxalis (Oxalis corniculata)

This spreading weed is often mistaken for clover, due to its clover-like leaves that can be green or purple-green. The tell-tale sign is the bright yellow five-petalled daisy-like flower. The weed grows into a dense mat, rooting at regular intervals along the stem, making it difficult to manually remove. Treat with a selective herbicide containing MCPA and bromoxynil. Repeat applications may be required to completely eradicate the weed.

Clover-like weeds

Winter grass (Poa annua)

A fine-textured, lime-green grassy weed that appears in the cooler months of the year. It grows into small tufts, with creamy white seed heads atop the foliage. Winter grass usually dies down once the weather warms, but not before it sets seeds in preparation for next year. The best time to control winter grass is early in the year, with a pre-emergent spray. It kills any winter grass present in the lawn, and also helps prevent seeds from emerging.

Close-up of grass with some stalks with seeds 

Burr medic (Medicago polymorpha

This weed looks like a cross between bindii, clover, and creeping oxalis. It is tri-leaved with small yellow flowers that develop into spiny seed pods or burrs. Burr medic spreads easily and is tolerant to drought-like conditions. Currently, there is no in-store product available to selectively treat burr medic weeds in lawns. The best thing to do is to mow regularly to remove flower heads and hand pull weeds to remove.

A close-up of small green plants with yellow flowers

Lambs’ tongue or plantain (Plantago lanceolate)

It’s easy to spot this weed, especially as it grows into a dense rosette of narrow leaves that taper at the end. The leaves are also deeply veined or ribbed and the edges are often curled. Flowers appear from mid-spring and are followed by dense seed heads. It is easily controlled with a selective broadleaf herbicide.

Safety first

When using any products to deal with garden pests and diseases, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store out of the reach of children and pets.

Does your lawn look like it needs a little extra TLC?

Get to know the appropriate maintenance practises for each weather change, with our seasonal guide to lawn care.


Photo Credit: James Moffatt, Getty Images, Yates and Alamy Stock Photo


Health & Safety

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