How to Kill Speedwell in Lawns


Dealing with unwanted plants in your garden, particularly in your lawn, can be a challenging task. Speedwell, with its pretty flowers, might appear harmless, but it can quickly become an invasive issue for those striving for a pristine turf. Understanding how to effectively target and eliminate speedwell is essential for maintaining the aesthetic and health of your lawn.

With an array of species, speedwell, or Veronica, might vary in appearance but often shares common traits that can help in identification. Effective control hinges on a mix of cultural practices aimed at maintaining a dense, robust lawn and the judicious use of herbicides when speedwell has gained a foothold. While it might entail regular effort, particularly during its most vigorous growth in the spring or early-summer, a strategic approach can help eradicate this unwelcome guest from your lawn.

Things to consider:

  • Speedwell can be managed through proper identification and targeted removal.
  • Maintaining a robust lawn is key to preventing the establishment of speedwell.
  • Use of herbicides may be necessary during the weed’s most vigorous growth stages.

Identifying Speedwell in Your Lawn

Speedwell, part of the genus Veronica, can often be a persistent issue in your lawn. Being able to correctly identify this weed is the first step to managing it. Look for the following distinctive features:

  • Flowers: Speedwell typically has small, blue or white flowers with four petals. Occasionally, you may see pink variations. The most common lawn species, such as Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) and Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis), showcase bright blue flowers.
  • Leaves: Speedwell leaves can range from heart-shaped to oval, and they often have a toothed edge. The leaves of Germander Speedwell are more coarsely toothed and hairy compared to the smoother leaves of Slender Speedwell.
  • Growth Habit: These weeds generally have a prostrate growth habit, meaning they spread across the surface of your lawn. They can form dense mats that compete with grass for space and resources.
  • Stems: Speedwell species tend to have creeping stems that can root at the nodes. Germander Speedwell has hairy stems, while Slender Speedwell’s stems are less pronounced and more thread-like.
Feature Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis)
Flower Colour Bright blue Bright blue
Flower Size Larger; up to 1cm in diameter Smaller; less than 1cm in diameter
Leaf Shape Broadly oval to triangular; distinctly toothed Smaller, more rounded; less toothed
Stem Description Hairy and erect to ascending Smooth and creeping

By using these identifiers, you’ll be better equipped to detect and manage Speedwell in your lawn. Remember, different Veronica species may require specific strategies for control, so accurate identification is crucial.

Preventive Measures for Lawn Care

Creating a healthy lawn that naturally resists weeds like speedwell takes a proactive approach focusing on soil quality, grass density, watering practices, and regular upkeep. Emphasising these aspects can reduce the likelihood of weed invasion and promote a vigorous lawn.

Improving Soil Quality

To prevent weeds, start with the soil itself. Incorporating organic matter improves soil structure, which promotes healthy grass growth. A soil rich in nutrients supports dense turf, leaving little room for weeds.

Cultivating a Dense Turf

Grass density is a key deterrent for weeds. Regular mowing to an optimal height encourages a lush sward. Aim not to cut more than one-third of the grass blade height to maintain health and density.

Optimising Watering Techniques

Effective watering fosters deep root growth, which in turn creates more robust lawns. Water your lawn deeply but infrequently to ensure the soil remains moist without becoming waterlogged. The goal is moist soil to a depth of about 10-15 cm.

Regular Lawn Maintenance

Staying on top of lawn maintenance is crucial. Scarifying removes thatch, aerating helps with soil compaction, and fertilising provides necessary nutrients. Together, these practices encourage strong turf capable of outcompeting weeds like speedwell.

Remember, consistent care is the best defence against lawn weeds.

Effective Weed Control Methods

Controlling speedwell in your lawn requires a multifaceted approach. Utilising various techniques from manual removal to selective herbicides can ensure that this persistent weed is effectively managed.

Physical Removal Techniques

For immediate speedwell removal, hand pulling is effective when dealing with small infestations. Use a hand fork or garden trowel to loosen the soil around the plant, ensuring you remove the roots to prevent regrowth. Alternatively, use a hoe or rake to disturb and remove the weed from larger areas. For a thorough job, you may need to dig out the weed with a spade or till the area if the infestation is extensive.

Selective Chemical Treatment

When choosing a lawn weedkiller, opt for a selective herbicide like Weedol Lawn Weedkiller or products containing fluroxypyr. These are designed to target broadleaf weeds such as speedwell without harming your grass. For established or stubborn weeds, a post-emergent herbicide can be effective. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance carefully – avoiding application before rain, to ensure the chemical has time to work.

Organic and Cultural Practices

Organic methods focus on creating an environment where grass can thrive and outcompete weeds. Maintain a dense, healthy lawn by regular feeding and watering. Mulching with organic material can suppress weed growth by blocking light. Avoid cutting your lawn too short; a slightly higher cutting height can shade out speedwell and hinder its ability to germinate and grow.

Targeting Weed Life Cycle

For long-term control, it’s important to stop speedwell before it can seed. Hoeing before the plant flowers in spring stops the cycle, as does regular raking to disrupt seedlings. In the late summer and fall, stay vigilant and repeat these processes to prevent speedwell from establishing before winter.

Managing Speedwell During Different Seasons

Effective management of speedwell in your lawn depends on understanding its growth patterns throughout the year. Your approach will vary as the seasons change, each presenting unique challenges and opportunities for controlling this invasive weed.

Addressing Spring Emergence

In early spring, as temperatures become milder, speedwell seeds germinate. It’s critical to tackle speedwell early by applying a selective herbicide, like one that’s 2,4-D-based, which is effective at targeting broadleaf weeds without harming your grass. Act when you first notice the weed’s growth, ensuring that the applications are done in cool, moist conditions to maximise the herbicide’s uptake.

Controlling Growth Through Summer

Throughout the summer, speedwell enters its most vigorous growth phase. Regular mowing can prevent it from flowering and spreading, but ensure the mowing height isn’t too low; otherwise, you may weaken the grass and give weeds an advantage. In cases of severe infestation, consider a spot treatment with an appropriate herbicide, especially during periods of active growth when the plant is most susceptible.

Preparing for Autumn and Winter

As autumn approaches, prepare your lawn by fortifying the grass to discourage speedwell from returning. Aeration and overseeding can improve the lawn’s density, and applying a well-balanced fertiliser will strengthen the grass before it enters dormancy in winter. While speedwell is perennial and may appear to die off in cold weather, remember that its roots still live beneath the soil, ready to regrow come spring.

Enhancing Lawn Biodiversity

To create a lawn that supports a diverse array of life, you should consider incorporating wildflowers and woodrush into your green space. These additions not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also serve as vital sources of nectar for pollinating insects.

Wildflowers can be sown directly into the lawn or grown in separate borders to provide a structured habitat. When choosing wildflowers, opt for native species that adapt well to your local climate and soil conditions. By doing so, you support the local wildlife and maintain the natural ecological balance.

Ornamental grasses like woodrush add texture and variety to your lawn, creating microhabitats for small animals and insects. Woodrushes are particularly beneficial as they are low maintenance and tolerate a range of soil types.

Wildflower Benefits Wildflower Care Tips
Attracts bees and butterflies Avoid over-fertilisation
Increases biodiversity Mow less frequently
Reduces maintenance Use native species

Create borders around your lawn with a selection of gardens plants and wildflowers to form protective barriers that also provide food and shelter for wildlife.

As a gardener, you play a key role in nurturing biodiversity. Embrace the variety of life by planting flowering plants that offer nectar-rich resources throughout the year. This strategy ensures that pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies, will find a continuous food supply within your garden.

Remember, a biologically diverse lawn not only benefits the environment but also becomes a more beautiful and engaging space for you to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

When dealing with speedwell in your lawn, you may have various questions about eradication and control methods. Below, you’ll find concise answers to common queries surrounding this invasive plant.

What herbicides are effective for tackling speedwell infestations in lawns?

Selective herbicides containing ingredients like fluroxypyr or carfentrazone are effective against speedwell. These herbicides target broadleaf weeds without harming the grass.

How can I control Veronica species growing amongst my grass?

For Veronicas, maintaining a dense, healthy lawn is key. Regular feeding, mowing, and overseeding prevent speedwell from establishing. Herbicides may also be applied for persistent species.

What cultural practices can help prevent the establishment of speedwell in my garden?

Encourage thick lawn growth through proper fertilisation, aeration, and mowing at a higher setting to shade out speedwell. Dense turf leaves little room for speedwell to take hold.

Is there an organic method to manage speedwell proliferation in grass areas?

Yes, hoeing speedwell before it flowers to prevent seed dispersal is an organic approach. Additionally, improving lawn health outcompetes the weed.

Can manual removal be an effective solution for minor speedwell problems?

For small areas, hand pulling speedwell, especially after rain when soil is loose, can be effective. Ensure you remove the roots to prevent regrowth.

How often should lawn treatment be applied to manage persistent speedwell issues?

Treatment frequency depends on the herbicide used and the level of infestation. Follow manufacturer’s guidance, and multiple applications may be necessary for full control. Generally, treat when speedwell is actively growing, often in the spring and fall.

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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