Gardening: Keys to wonderful weed-free lawn

James Vaughan


James Vaughan

Gardening: Keys to wonderful weed-free lawn

By removing the dead grass and moss, your lawn will drain better

WITH the weather heating up over this bank holiday weekend, people might be more in a mind to do some work on their lawns. People in Ireland certainly care a lot about their lawns. I am probably asked more questions about lawns than about any other aspect of gardening.

One task that should have been completed by now is scarifying. This is done to remove any dead grass or moss in the lawn. By removing the dead grass and moss, your lawn will drain better and this will help to give it an overall uniform look.

Lawn Weeds

Any newly established lawn will have weeds in it, this is caused by the fresh disturbance of soil. These weeds should disappear with time. Also, an old lawn that has not been fed over the years will become exhausted. This will mean the grass will become weak and the weeds will begin to take over. This can be prevented by regularly feeding the lawn. If you have more persistent weeds then the following may be of assistance.


I have listed these two weeds together because they have similar growth habits and therefor, can be treated similarly. Buttercups and daisy are creeping weeds in lawns. This means that no matter how much you cut the lawns you are unlikely to cut or damage the weeds. In fact, it is my experience that all you may achieve is to cut the flower stalks from the weeds- giving the impression of a green lawn.

Treatment of these can take one of two ways -namely, chemical or non-chemical. With Chemicals you will be looking for a ‘selective’ herbicide or weed killer. This means that the weed killer will kill everything in your lawn except the grass. Therefore, you need to be careful that the weed killer does not drift onto any shrubs surrounding your lawn. I understand that there is a growing reluctance to the use of chemicals- something which I support. If I could just say, almost all parks, golf course, councils and farmers, landscapers etc etc use chemicals to control weeds. For the moment, they are heavily reliant on them- until such a time as a satisfactory alternative arrives.

The alternative, non-chemical treatment, requires more physical work. One way of treatment is to physically remove buttercups and daisies from the lawn with a trowel or fork. Obviously, this is more achievable in a small lawn rather than a large one.

Dandelion/Dock Leaves

These two weeds are similar because they both have a deep root. A dock root looks almost like a parsnip- quite long. Dandelions and docks can be treated in the same 2 ways as buttercups and daisies. If using the non-chemical method, it is especially important to remove every part of the root or the weed will regrow.


With regard to a regularly cut lawn, nettles should not pose a problem. This is because each time the nettle grows to any height it is cut down by the mower. This continual cutting will eventually weaken the entire nettle plant. Eventually, after many cuts, the nettle will simple give up.

I have often asked that you spare a thought for the wildlife. Lawns offer very little in the way of wildlife habitat.

That is why I would say, if at all possible, allow, a ‘wild’ area in your garden. This can simple be a small area- one square meter- of unkept lawn. This can provide food for butterflies and their caterpillars, ladybirds etc.

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