Lawn Weeds   Leave a comment

For someone who is not a big fan of lawns, I sure have been spending a lot of time lately maintaining ours. Specifically, as a person who likes meadows and strongly dislikes grass monoculture lawns, it seems almost incongruous how much time has been devoted lately to removing non-grass plants. First it was the catchweed bedstraw, which had me kneeling in one corner of the lawn for a few minutes every day pulling the plants out from the turf; now it is redstem filaree. It is interesting to look at my weed vs. not-a-weed decision matrix.

Some things are just plain weeds, defined as something that is invasive (non-native plant that is difficult to eradicate and disrupts the native ecology) or obnoxious. The catchweed bedstraw is obnoxious. Since the long stems and leaves are so clingy, it tends to end up in huge mats that grab onto your clothes and shoes every time you walk by it. I learned that the hard way at the old house. There was no way to prevent spreading the seeds when I removed the dead weeds this past summer, so I knew that I’d be on eradication mode this spring at the first sign of those seedlings.

Some things are most definitely not weeds to me, no matter what anyone else considers. Case in point: clover. Clover is beautiful and it is a nitrogen-fixer so it helps to provide nutrients for the other plants in the turf. I put dandelions in this category as well, actually. I’m excited this year for my spring detox to be able to walk out into my front yard and pick dandelion leaves instead of having to buy them at the grocery store.

Most other plants in the lawn have been in the lets-wait-and-see category. In the weeks after we dethatched and removed the mature weeds from the dirt/lawn area and reseeded with grass seed, the “weed seeds” outcompeted the grass seeds in some areas. I was certainly not going to pull hundreds of unidentifiable seedlings out from the dirt, so we let them grow. In most cases we really like the mix of plants, but there are a couple of areas where the non grass greatly outnumber the grass plants. That’s the case with the redstem filaree. The seedlings were these beautiful lacy plants, but in a couple of large patches they grew into a thick mat. They still looked fine, though, and we we let them be and figured that mowing would keep them from all going to seed and getting worse. Then they put out these beautiful little purple flowers, and I didn’t have the heart to mow flowers. At least until the immature seeds started popping up. So now those patches have been mowed twice in one week, and I’ve gone out with clippers a couple of times to remove the seed heads before they mature. Now that I’m seeing these plants in action I’ve decided that there’s another category of plants that can be considered weeds: anything that forms a mat. When the plants die, they leave a big hole in the ground cover, and that’s not pretty.

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Posted March 25, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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