Certain broadleaf weeds such as creeping Charlie (ground ivy), black medic, violets, creeping speedwell, spurge and prostrate knotweed are extremely difficult to control in the home lawn. Many other common weeds will also respond to the following control alternatives.


1.Grow a healthy lawn. Thick, vigorous turf will compete well with most weeds. Regular fertilizing and irrigation will help the desired turfgrasses to for a dense stand. This type of growth helps to prevent the establishment of many weeds, however, the tough weeds listed above will generally thrive also.

2. Mow taller. Perhaps the single most important technique for lawn weed control is to mow at a height of 2 to 3 inches. This encourages the plant to form a deeper root system and shades the ground to discourage seed germination by annual weeds.

3. Hand weeding. Although tedious, hand weeding of small numbers of weed plants may be effective in minimizing the problem. However, this will not totally eliminate the plant and must be done periodically in the spring and fall.

4. Chemical Controls. Many common weeds such as dandelions will be effectively treated with 2,4-D contained in products such as Weed-B-Gone and others. Unfortunately, the difficult weeds listed above generally do not respond to this type of treatment.

Timing - Most effective weed control will occur during the cool months of the spring or the fall. Many of the weeds are "cool season" plants and expand their root systems during these times. The heat of the summer is the most difficult time to control lawn weeds. In non-irrigated lawns, the plants "tighten up" during the summer and do not absorb herbicides well.

For many of these weeds, it is best to treat when they are in bloom or following the first frost in the fall. These are times when they seem to absorb more of the chemical herbicide into their systems.


a. TriMec - This is an herbicide which contains 3 different herbicides. It is sold under many brand names and often has a label that says, "For difficult to control broadleaf weeds." The ingredients usually consist of 2,4-D + Dicamba + Mecoprop. Be careful using any product with Dicamba in the root zone of small trees and shrubs. Follow the label instructions carefully.

b. Weed-B-Gone Purple Label - In tests at Michigan State University, this herbicide worked well against tough lawn weeds when applied in early October.

c. Commercial Lawn Care - Lawn care companies may have access to other herbicides which might be effective against these tough weeds. 

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


Copyright 2000-