Environmentally safe weed control

Asked April 15, 2017, 3:59 PM EDT

Portions of my lawn are infested with weeds. Two main types. Chic Weed in particular. Not sure of what the other is. It appears to be a clover type growth. How can I control these weeds in an environmentally friendly manner. Do any of the professional lawn services offer services that will control weeds in such a manner? Are there any lawn products that I might purchase and apply myself.

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

The least toxic controls are hand pulling and using weeding tools. There are a number of organic and less toxic controls on the market. These active ingredients include Acetic acid (vinegar), cinnamon oil, iron chelate, potassium salts of fatty acid, citric acid, and clove oil. These are non selective, contact herbicides. They are NOT effective on mature or perennial weeds that have a substantial root system. If you decide to use, follow label directions.
Corn gluten has been sold for many years as a preemergent herbicide. It can suppress annual weeds but not as effectively as traditional herbicides.
Corn gluten is a source of nitrogen. Applying it at the recommended amount to control weeds may exceed the amount of nitrogen allowable in Maryland per the Fertilizer Use Act of 2011. Check the label to make sure.

The most difficult aspect of a more natural or organic approach to lawn care is controlling weeds. You will have to be prepared to tolerate some weeds for organic controls.
Basically some organic lawn care practices include a testing your soil every 3-4 years for pH, liming, and nutrient deficiencies; type of grass seed to sow; overseeding & renovation; mowing at the proper height; leaving the grass clippings on the lawn after mowing; and fertilizing in the fall for cool season grasses. (You should be aware that Maryland now has a lawn fertilizer law. This also applies to commercial companies too http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Documents/fertilizerwebpage.pdf

Here is some information on chickweed http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/common-chickweed and clover. We would mention that clover was long-included in lawn seed mixes for multiple reasons. As a legume, it has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, it stays green under dry conditions, and it has a lot of pollinator value. Many people like it and keep it on purpose. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/clover

You do have the option of contacting some lawn care companies http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Documents/LawnCareService.pdf