Help! Plantain and White Clover takeover!

JerseyLawnJune 9, 2014

As you can see from the attached picture my lawn isn't in the best of shapes. I purchased this home in November so this is my first summer. The previous owners never took care of the lawn. Thus far I have fertilized in May and will do so next month as well. In the fall I plan on aerating and then overseeding with fertilizer. Is it too late to do anyting now for this summer? What can I do to kill the plantain broadleaf and white clover and not have it appear again next year? Thanks in advance for your help!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

At least what you have is uniform looking enough that it doesn't look clumpy. Things could be worse.

You probably have a pure fescue lawn. If you want to stick with pure fescue, then you can look forward to reseeding every fall (or so). When fescue thins out or gets damaged, it does not fill back in. Kentucky bluegrass, on the other hand, will fill in the bare or thin spots and will not need to be overseeded every year.

Now you have to decide what to do. Late August is the time to do the job. You will have to kill the weeds with Weed-B-Gone Clover, Chickweed, and Oxalis killer. A week later you can scatter seed - either fescue or KBG. Then start watering 3x per day, very lightly, for 2 weeks (fescue) or 3 weeks (KBG). You should have 80% germination by then and be off and running.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Hi dchall,

Is the Weed-b-Gone liquid or granular? If liquid would I have to spray every single weed individually? So wait a week or two and then aerate/overseed? I was planning on using a mix that specifically for the northeast which in most cases is KBG. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 8:52PM
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dchall would know better than me but I would suggest a pre-emergent in the fall and the spring. I just don't know how you time that with seeding the lawn.

This post was edited by Sherm1082 on Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 2:25

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 9:10PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Good point about spraying every weed. You could do that, but since you have full coverage weeds, you might want to use a granular. Be absolutely sure to read the directions. Many of them go on to WET GRASS. That makes it a 2-person job. One person keeps the grass wet in front of the person applying the herbicide. Otherwise the grass dries out before you get the stuff applied.

If you do your seeding this coming August, then the KBG will have time to get established. There is a saying about ground covers which applies to KBG, too. The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps. This applies in relative terms, but the sooner you get it in, the sooner you'll have an excellent lawn.

Clover reseeds profusely. You'll have to keep after it every few weeks next year to get rid of it. Preemergent in the spring might help. It does not kill seeds, but it does not allow seedlings to take root. Keep your new lawn mowed tall and that will help prevent new weeds.

You don't need to aerate, but if it makes you feel better spending the money and breaking your back to make little holes in the yard, go for it.

Learn to water deeply and infrequently if you are not already doing that. Deeply means one inch of water as measured by cat food or tuna cans placed around the yard. Infrequently means once a week with daily temps above 90 and once every other week with temps in the 80s. Watering like this has a big effect on cutting weeds. Weed seeds need moist soil for several days. If you allow the soil to dry out completely at the surface, the weeds can't sprout.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 10:54AM
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thanks again Dchall! How about the broadleaf plantains? Are those difficult to control? I can't stand looking at those

I was going to aerate with my plug aerator on my riding tractor so it shouldn't be too labor intensive.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 12:32PM
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LOUvox50(7 / TN)

RE: broadleaf plantains. Broadleaf plantains are natures little flags indicating help is needed and that the soil has been pounded down, mashed or driven on too much. Areas with broadleaf plantain need to be aerated or fluffed up or loosened, etc.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:29PM
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For what it's worth, I am converting my lawn to clover (which had to be mail ordered as the chemical companies have basically driven it off the mainstream lawn market) . You might consider going that way. I'm with you on the plantain/burdock, which you could attack by hand after every rain. It's satisfying, and they won't come back. If you have onion grass, use a grapefruit knife. More work at the outset but I think you'll have far less in years to come. I'm not a grass expert, of course, but I have had a number of gardens and lawns over the years.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:43PM
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