In the average Australian garden, common lawn weeds range from unsightly lawn fixtures to painful party-ruiners, and there are so many varieties that it can be difficult to keep tabs on them. Some particularly common species are especially difficult to spot owing to their plant-like appearance. The dandelion is a perfect example, an almost flower-like specimen which tops survey results Australia-wide as the most common of 112 weed species. Of 910 survey respondents, 7.4% reported dandelions as their most common garden weed, followed closely by bindiis (7.3%), and clovers (4.2%).
With a good weed identification chart, you’ll be able to catch garden pests before they spread and keep your garden in good order. Routinely removing the weeds from your yard will allow your grass, plants, and soil to get the moisture and nutrients needed in order to grow.
Identifying weeds is the first step towards a pristine lawn, as effective removal differs by species. If you spot common weed varieties taking root in your soil, it’s important to remove them correctly and completely in order to prevent regrowth. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that one shovel will fit all, or you may find yourself fighting a losing battle on your own turf.
If you’re unsure about how to identify weeds, dandelions are an easy starting point. The white fronds might look friendly, but hosting dandelions amongst your lawn poses a threat to your grass, as they tend to soak up water from the soil and dry out neighbouring plants. Dandelions are also notoriously difficult to remove by hand, as the roots tend to burrow deep into the soil. Your best option for removal is an herbicide treatment, or if you’re concerned about damaging the surrounding grass, try spraying the weeds with vinegar.
Clovers love a dry lawn, which explains why you might see more of them during particularly hot summers. Mulch is a great preventative measure, but once these white flowery weeds have already begun to crop up, try administering an extra dose of fertiliser. The fertiliser will boost the nitrogen levels in your soil, which in turn will suffocate the weed. Nitrogen is also great for improving the health of your grass, leaving you in a win-win situation.
Weeds with prickles can be tricky to remove, especially green bindii plants which blend into the grass, but once they flower, their prickly burrs will turn your lawn into a minefield for bare feet. Bindiis can usually be prevented through careful lawn maintenance and mowing, since they typically grow better in grass which has been mown too short. Once the damage has been done, though, this species could keep you off the grass all summer long. You’re unlikely to have much luck with removal by hand, which leaves herbicide as the best option for a bindii-free summer. Again, it’s best to choose an herbicide which will leave your grass unharmed, and ideally have the grass treated before the plants produce their prickles.
Lawn weed identifications are especially important when the weeds in question pose a painful threat. Despite a mint-like appearance, nettles are known for their nasty sting, caused by the sharp hairs which cover the plant, but they can be removed by hand without too much trouble. For a nettle-free lawn, all you need is a pair of gardening gloves and a spade. Use the spade to dig into and loosen the soil around the weeds, grab the base of the plant, and pull it up.
This sprawling, leafy weed isn’t quite as lovable on the lawn or amongst your waterways as it is in your lunch. Also known as hemlock, it can be found in damp environments away from direct sunlight, and some varieties are poisonous. Hemlock is best controlled with foliar spray, or with garden shears, but only after it has flowered, as this prevents the plant from producing more seeds.
You won’t need a weed identification guide to spot the bright yellow soursob flowers, but they may prove difficult to eradicate. Although the flowers might seem harmless or even pleasant, the soursob weed is resilient and able to spread very quickly, simply by dropping its bulbs on the surrounding soil. It can also withstand herbicide and form deep roots in the ground, making removal by hand a challenge, but with the help of your lawnmower, you can get to the root of the problem just before the weed starts to flower. Mowing over the plant will weaken the roots and eventually prevent regrowth.
You’ll find many types of weeds in grass, but thistle likely won’t be one of them. This garden pest tends to grow in bare soil, which means those who maintain a thick, lush lawn may not ever need to worry about removing it, but barren lawns could be at risk of infestation. A distinctive round spiky bud makes thistle easy to identify, although it might be challenging to remove. Thistle should be cut down at ground level to stress the roots, and although you may have to repeat the process several times, it will eventually stop regrowth for good.
Populations of Australian weeds vary by location, so before you slip on the gardening gloves, it’s best to read up on the most common varieties in your area. Survey results show that bindis reign supreme in Queensland (13%) and New South Wales (8%), while dandelions are most popular in Victoria (10%), and both bindis and dandelions crop up regularly in the ACT (17%).
In South Australia, soursobs easily top the list (over 12%), whereas clovers are most common in both Tasmania (10%) and Western Australia (6%).
Removing weeds can be time-consuming and tiring, but the reward of a healthy, green lawn is a great reason to put in the work. When summer rolls around, your backyard will be ready to host parties, cricket matches, or lazy days by the pool, and that alone is a great reward.
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