The Q&A Archives: Lawn Weed--is it Henbit or something else?

Question: One area of our lawn is home to a spreading weed with long roots/rhizomes which appear to be its method of spreading. They also grow in our garden and can get quite tall (as much as 12-24"). The leaves of this weed are similar to henbit (but I do not believe it to be henbit because it does not flower) - multiple rounded points to a leave, medium dark green, some short "hair" on the stems of the larger plants (if I remember correctly). When one pulls them, and leaves/stems are crushed, there is a peculiar smell (hard to describe). It appears to be an annual, and appears early in the spring. Any ideas as to what this weed may be, and how it is best controlled? Thanks for your help.

Answer: Are you sure it's not henbit? Your description sure sounds like it. Maybe it's just not flowering yet. OR perhaps the weed in the lawn is ground ivy which has the type of leaf you describe, but does not grow tall like the ones in your garden. Henbit has a very hefty and distinctive square stem. Ground ivy on the other hand, has a weaker stem, and creeps through the grass rooting as it moves along. Ground ivy does flower, but it is not as noticeable as henbit's bright lavender flowers. Also, it flowers later in spring than henbit.

Both weeds can be kept under control by hand pulling, keeping a healthy lawn, and mowing high. Keeping grass at about 2 ? to 3 inches discourages weed seeds from germinating and smothers young weeds. Elimination of these weeds can be achieved by using a broadleaf weed herbicide. But if you should decide to use chemical controls, follow label directions EXACTLY, and spot treat only the areas where you just can't live with the weeds.

Once of the newest gardening trends is towards more natural lawns, meadow lawns, or 'yardens' which have a more relaxed attitude towards weeds. Not only does this new attitude in lawn care protect the environment, but also it saves you time and money! And that's a good thing!

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