Chickweed – Control in Fescue

Fall tilling brought up plenty of chickweed seeds that had been lying dormant underground. They sprouted last fall along with my fescue seeds. The recent warm winter weather has caused the unwanted plants to explode across my lawn. But here’s my quandary: if I spray the whole lawn with weedkiller, I might hurt the young grass seedlings. If I let the chickweed continue to grow, it will drop millions of seed that I will have to fight for years.

My decision is to spot spray the weeds and to hope the fescue seedlings can survive the stress. Dr. Tim Murphy, Extension weed scientist, conducted tests of common homeowner weed killers on turf plots at the University of Georgia Griffin campus. He reports that any of the “combination products”, such as Chickweed Control, Weed Shot and Weed-B-Gon, will kill chickweed.

He says that the effect of the chemical may not be obvious for a few days but that eventually you’ll see the leaves pucker and turn yellow. If chickweed is still present in April, I will spray again to wipe up the survivors.

Of course any time you use a chemical it is imperative to read and follow the label. Some of the chemicals that kill broadleafed weeds like chickweed also affect lawn grasses. Be careful! Folks with centipede or St. Augustine grass lawns could do severe damage to their grass with herbicides that work fine on bermudagrass and fescue lawns.

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