Chickweed and Henbit

Chickweed and Henbit

It’s March and you are getting ready to apply your first treatment of the year. As you walk through the lawn, you notice some weeds growing in some very peculiar spots. Along the foundation of the house you might see a weed with a very small leaf with a small white flower. That, my friend, is chickweed. It wasn’t there last fall? Where did it come from?

Have you also noticed another weed possibly growing along the sidewalk/driveway or in areas where the lawn was bare? Does it have a small scalloped leaf with a purple flower and square stem? That is Henbit.

Chickweed and Henbit are both winter annuals. A winter annual is a plant whose seed germinates during the cool fall temperatures. During the following spring, the plant can grow very vigorously while blooming and producing seeds. When the summer weather arrives and the temperature increases, the chickweed and henbit plants will usually die on their own, but their seeds are now in the soil to start the cycle over again later on in the fall.

A clump of chickweed growing in a lawn.

A clump of chickweed growing in a lawn.

You might ask yourself, “If the plants die on their own, should I bother treating them?” My answer for you is ABSOLUTELY! You always want to get control of the weeds before they go to seed. Check out my blog post called When is the best time to spray for weeds? to read further about this.

What are the best methods for control of Chickweed and Henbit?

The first method would  be to overseed the areas that are thin/bare. A healthy dense lawn will always be the best defense against competing weeds. Overseeding in the fall would be my first option.

The second method would be using a herbicide that is designed to control these specific weeds. There are going to be many weed killers that will have Chickweed and Henbit on the label. My personal experience would be to use PBI Gordon’s SpeedZone and Fertilome’s Weed Free Zone. These herbicides are fast acting and provide the best control in cooler temperatures. You probably won’t find these at your Big Box Stores. I would start by looking at your local garden centers.

A patch of Henbit with scalloped leaves and purple flowers.

A patch of Henbit with scalloped leaves and purple flowers.

The third method would be using a long range weed preventer such as Prodiamine. If applied early in the fall, Prodiamine will prevent many weeds from germinating such as chickweed and henbit. Prodiamine can be found in garden centers and are often labeled as crabgrass preventers.

Hopefully this helps you in your quest for a better looking lawn! If you know of any other methods not listed, please feel free to post them on the message board!