The Q&A Archives: Weeds

Question: I have chickweed in my yard. How do I get rid of it?

Answer: When a little chickweed grows sparsely through your yard, spreading weedkiller on it will usually get rid of it. But if you don?t treat it when it first begins to grow, it can take over your entire lawn, growing faster and thicker than any weedkiller can handle. If that happens, it?s time to get down and dirty!

The first thing to do when you have large patches and clumps of chickweed is to pull as much of it out of the ground as you can by hand. While it looks strong and thick on the surface, it?s usually very thin and stringy underneath, making it easy to pull up. You don?t need to pull it out by the roots, but pull enough out so that the ground underneath it is exposed. You may find a white film-like substance covering the ground underneath the chickweed you just pulled out. This is what suffocated your grass and allowed the chickweed to flourish.

Your next step is to aerate the ground. You can rent an aerator, though an ax or shovel will work just as well. Slice or hack the ground every one to two square feet, each gash being two to three inches deep (minimum). This will allow the fertilizer and water to get deeper into the ground.

You then want to spread fertilizer - a combination of turfbuilder and weedkiller (such as Scott?s) over your yard. Spread it generously and evenly, making sure all affected areas are covered. Check the instructions on the bag to see when the best time is to spread it (day, night, before rain, after rain, etc.). Also check the instructions to see when the best time is to water once you?ve spread the fertilizer. Some types of fertilizer work better when watered immediately, while others should sit for 24 hours before watering.

Once you do begin to water, water each day for about two to three weeks. After this time, you should start to see the leftover chickweed die while the grass will start to show signs of life. Spread the fertilizer again at this time, then continue to water each day for another couple of weeks. After this four to five week period, you should have your green, thick grass back again with no signs of chickweed anywhere.

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