Controlling Annual Meadow Grass in Your Lawn
When you think of your dream lawn, what does it look like? Green – of course and I’m also guessing you’d like it to be neatly manicured, close mown and either have stripes or a lovely even colour. I can’t imagine you want spots on it. But some lawns are a bit spotty. In this article I’m going to look one cause for a spotty lawn and what you can do to rectify it.
What makes spots on a lawn?
There are several different reasons for discoloured patches on a lawn.
- Animal urine
- Lawn diseases
- Wear and tear
- Spillages (lawn mower petrol, weedkillers etc.)
- Annual meadow grass
In this article, we're looking at Annual meadow grass.
What is Annual Meadow Grass?
Annual Meadow Grass or AMG is a wild grass that is common throughout the UK and indeed the Northern Hemisphere. Its species name is Poa Annua. You’ll find it growing in gutters, in cracks in the pavement and anywhere else that a seed might land and germinate. Including, in your garden and on your lawn.
It actually has a very pretty seed head. If it weren’t for the fact that the leaves turn pale green when the plant is under stress, you probably wouldn’t mind it on your lawn at all. Most of the year, you won’t know it’s there. But in summer time, when the ground is dry and it’s more difficult for plants to access nutrients, you might see pale circular patches in your lawn. If they’re not caused by disease, they’re probably AMG plants.
How to get rid of Annual Meadow Grass
First of all, forget about using weedkillers or sprays. Chemical herbicides fall into 3 broad categories.
- Those that kill grasses but not broadleaved plants
- Those that kill broadleaved plants but not grasses
- Those that kill all plants
There is no chemical herbicide that will kill AMG and leave your lawn grasses alone.
The only way to remove AMG is mechanically. In other words, you have to weed it out by hand.
You could, dig up each plant. Depending on how many there are in your lawn that could take a while. Plus you’ll expose areas of soil. Bare soil in the lawn is where new AMG plants are most likely to appear. Then you’ll be back to square one.
The method that is most often recommended is to take a sharp knife and slash through each plant. Be sure to cut the roots AND leaves. This will weaken the plant so that other lawn grasses can out-compete the Poa annua. It’s slow, but it does work.
Low mowing takes away some of the seedheads and slows the spread of AMG. Did you spot there that I said “some” of the seedheads. AMG holds its seeds quite low to the ground so that they get missed by grazing animals and marauding lawn mowers. This method isn’t really all that effective.
Alternatively, and this is what greenkeepers try to do – you could learn how to disguise the plants. I.e. Make them less noticeable.
How to Hide Annual Meadow Grass
The secret to disguising those patches of AMG lie in excellent and regular lawn care.
Mow a couple of times a week but keep the mower blades fairly high. 1.5 inches (4cm) is a nice height. This keeps the desirable grass species strong and healthy so that they can outcompete the AMG. Plus AMG grows quicker than lawn grasses – which is why the tufts are so noticeable. Keeping them trimmed is a good way of hiding them.
AMG isn’t like lawn grasses. It’s not been bred to cope with regular mowing. It won’t do as well in a regularly maintained lawn as it might where mowing is sporadic.
Feed feed feed. If you starve AMG it will do what all plants do when they’re stressed. Turn pale and try to set seed before the mother plant dies. Keep the whole lawn strong and healthy with a manageable feeding routine. Lawn feed is not expensive and is cost effective.
Use your mower to create patterns in the lawn. Stripes, chequers, even circles distract the eye and make AMG spots less noticeable.
Consider a lawn care service
If AMG is driving you mad, call in the professionals. Mr & Mrs Gardens from East Kilbride are truly skilled at bringing out the best in Scotland’s lawns. And they’re cheaper than a new lawn. http://www.mrmrsgardens.co.uk/
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