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For most, the thought of Spring conjures “Disney-Like” images of sunsets and flocking birds. For the pest control worker, these images are horribly obscured with the matted weeds and and slimy grubs.  Spring is the season when everything comes alive, especially the unwanted pests of the lawn. Here we will talk about one of the earliest weeds to show up in early Spring, the Common Chickweed.

 

General Description

Chickweed is commonly described as a “winter annual”, due to it’s ability to thrive, and even flower, during the cold Winter temperatures. In normal conditions this plant will flower 4-5 weeks after emergence in Spring.  These flowers will bloom from Spring until Fall, and can not be suppressed with simple mowing. It reproduces by seed spread during summer.  It’s growth pattern is low, prostrate in patches.  It grows best along sidewalks, bed edges, and curbs. The most distinctive characteristic of Chckweed is the pattern of its flower petals.  There are 5 flower petals, with deep notches that give it the false appearance of having 10 separate petals.  Also, it’s leaves are particularly shiny compared to other plants.  Although the leaves of it’s cousin, Mouse Ear Chickweed, are hairy.

 

Control & Treatment

As a reminder, Chickweed is a very hardy annual that spreads by seed.  By far the most effective control of chickweed is a thorough pre-emergent strategy.  This pre-emergent strategy would include applications in November and April to beat any seed possible germination.  Cultural practices that promote Chickweed growth include moist, poor draining soil and heavily shaded turf. Proper water management, shade plant selection, and proper mowing will help with Chickweed control with less use of chemicals. Another non-chemical practice would be to hand pick plants prior to seeding occurs. Post emergent control of Chickweed is very difficult and should be done only after a full assessment and identification by a professional.  There are no consumer products currently available for selective post emergent control of this pest.

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