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Organic in the Garden – Removing Flatweed From Your Lawn Without Chemicals

Organic in the Garden – Removing Flatweed From Your Lawn Without Chemicals

Flatweed is a term used to describe a collective of weeds that are invasive in a domestic lawn. Although a flatweed is typically just that, a “Flat Weed” such as Hawkbit. I often refer to other weeds such as clover in a similar way.

The traditional method of eradicating these types of weeds from a lawn is with the use of a selective herbicide, which will attack the weed without affecting the lawn grass, itself. For the organic gardener, these synthetic herbicides will want to be avoided.

There are surprisingly many non-traditional and chemical free ways to remove flatweed from a lawn including alternative chemical based options and manual removal.

Some tools have been specifically developed for removing flatweed from a lawn with very little effort. A relatively new commercially available tool I equipped with a long handle to enable easy removal of flatweed while standing in an upright position. From memory I believe this tool was invented in Australia and is marketed as the “Grandpa Weeder”.

Small areas can also be handled with a hoe or mattock. It’s always important to remove all the taproot from the weed to prevent possible regrowth.

Larger areas or neglected lawns can be removed by solarisation using black plastic to heat the area of the soil for several weeks prior to resowing the area with new lawn. Slashing with a brush utter or close cutting with a lawn mower is a good idea before adding the plastic. It is also advisable not to slash or mow when seed heads are present. When the plants are in flower or before flowering is an ideal time.

Organic Farmers have used goats or pigs for removing weed infestations for years. Goats will eat almost anything and pigs will root up the ground to get to the roots. This is obviously not appropriate in a domestic setting but when clearing a large area for a new lawn or house lot it is worth borrowing a goat from a farmer to help with the clean up.

Common Salt (table salt) has been used in the past as a “spot remover” of flatweed. Many people dislike using salt but I use it for spot weeding and in the cracks of footpaths. I prefer it to the use of synthetic herbicides in that I only apply a teaspoon to the top of a flatweed after first cutting a cross in the top of the plant to speed up the process. Small but repeated applications in cracks in footpaths will lead to potentially weed free paths.

Regular applications of high Nitrogen Fertilizer such as chicken manure can also assist in maintaining a thick healthy lawn, which can help prevent possible regrowth of flatweed.