Chickweed is an annual weed that’s found in most parts of North America and is mostly referred as lawn weed. It normally grows along the ground to form a thick dense mat like that produces white small flowers. This weed has shallow root system and is best controlled during spring or fall.
What does chickweed look like?
There are two main species of chickweed which are common (Stellaria media) and sticky (Cerastium glomeratum) sticky. They are both winter annual weeds.
Chickweed can be identified by its white small flowers and lobe-shaped leaves with many stems sprouting from a central point. It’s classified under annual weed that sprouts in the late spring or early summer whereby after sprouting it grows very fast then dies shortly after flowering.
Chickweed normally grow in moist places and in shady areas of lawns and gardens. This weed can be very troublesome if allowed to complete its life cycle. When left out it will cast out hundreds of seeds in the soil which will become hard for a gardener to get rid of it. It’s advisable to remove it immediately before flowering.
Common chickweed favors areas which are well watered and is known to be a reservoir for most pest, insects and plant viruses. However its seeds can be used as chicken food and other birds. On the other hand sticky weeds can tolerate dry areas.
When does chickweed germinate?
Both common species of chickweed are annual weeds. Their seeds starts to germinate from January to early march in cooler regions when the soil temperatures reaches 59 Degrees Fahrenheit: Where by the optimal temperatures normally ranges between 54 to 68F.
However when the soil is very moist the seeds can germinate at much higher temperatures. The chickweed seeds normally germinates near the soil surface in large numbers after irrigation is carried out or after rain. When the seeds are buried deeper or the soil within is very dry, it’s more likely that the weed seedlings may not germinate or survive.
Chickweed normally takes 5 to 6 weeks to complete its life cycle and mature seedlings can mature without even the dormancy period.
How to Get Rid of Chickweed
Chickweed has a very short life cycle and should be controlled at early stages in order to prevent flowering and casting of seeds since it’s an annual weeds it grows very fast. Here are some ways of how you can get rid of it:
1. Hand weeding or digging
This is done by pulling it as much you can out of the ground. Due to their shallow roots hand pulling or digging is considered the best. After digging make sure you dispose off the weed in a bag to avoid its seeds from dropping to the ground.
2. Smoothening with black plastic
This is an effective natural way to get rid of weeds in your lawn. What you need is to weigh down the edges and cover the weed with a black plastic or a non-permeable tarp. This works extremely well in lawn invaded by chickweed as it prevents sunlight and air from the weed.
In this method very little labor is required and the chickweeds are considered dead within a span of 1 to 2 weeks.
3. Spraying with a non-selective weed killer
Non selective weed killers work within a very short time and results are seen. What you need is to spray the weed with an application of the weed killer and the weed will start showing signs of wilting within few hours.
After days the weed the weed will be killed down to the roots system. It’s always advisable to avoid spraying your desirable garden plants.
4. Spraying with selective weed killer
Selective broadleaf weed killers works best on lawns that have grass on it. The weed killer normally kills the chickweed without harming any of the turf grass on the lawn.
Always be cautious when using it in order to avoid killing your desirable plant and do not forget to check the packaging product of the weed killer that is safe for your turf grass.
5. Mulch your garden
Applying a thick layer of mulch 2-3 inches will prevent the chick weed from spouting. Mulching normally keeps weed seed from reaching the soil hence preventing any seed available in the soil from germinating by limiting them air and sunlight.
6. Till your garden soil
It’s advisable to till your garden soil deep to a depth of six to eight inches to kill any existing chickweed available. It’s always good to till your soil before planting season begins as this will prevent the weeds from spreading.
7. Mow the lawn regularly
Chick weed and any other weeds normally do best when allowed to grow to maturity and to avoid this it’s good to engage in regular mowing. By mowing your lawn weekly you interrupts and keep the chickweed at bay before it matures.
Chickweed at maturity normally grows to more than 4 inches. It’s advisable to weed and mow your lawn hence keeping the grass below 4 inches as this will hinder the chickweed seeds from germinating.
It’s very important to note that chickweed is cultivated by gardeners as a crop. Most preferably is boiled and eaten like spinach which is considered to be very nutritious and tasty. It contains high content of vitamins C and minerals. Chickweed leaves are used as medicine for people with constipation, blood disorders, and stomach and bowel problems. However, in lawns, this plant should be treated as a weed.