There are different names with which chickweed, stellaria media is referred to in different parts of the world. It is also known as chickenwort, craches, winter weed, maruns, etc. This annual plant can be seen growing in fields, gardens, as well as roadsides, shingle riverbanks, coastal cliffs, etc.
Even though chickweed can be found growing in almost all soil types, it thrives in lighter soil. Soil that has high potassium and nitrogen, and low phosphate and lime levels, is conducive for the growth of this invasive plant. This plant does not prefer alkaline soil and is very sensitive to drought.
Therefore, as soon as dry conditions set in, these plants will begin to wilt. Chickweed is known to damage crops and gardens, therefore it is important that strict control measures are taken at the earliest.
How to Control Chickweed
Failure to remove these plants at the earliest, will put the entire area at risk of being infested. In case it spreads to a larger area, you should clear as much of the patch as you can by using different gardening tools.
This plant may appear strong on the surface, but is thin and stringy underneath, which makes it rather easy to pull the plants out. Since you may not be able to pull out the entire root, try to remove as much as possible.
The next step while removing weeds from your lawn is to aerate the ground. Hack the ground to makes gashes that are three to four inches deep. Thereafter, spread generous amounts of weedkiller all around the affected area.
When the yard is watered everyday for a couple of weeks, the chickweed plants will die and make way for grass. Make sure that ground does not saturate with water. It will take about three to four weeks for the chickweed to die and for grass to replace it.
How to Organically Control Chickweed
If you have just noticed chickweed growing in your garden patch, you may consider turning the soil over. When the soil is turned over, it helps in reducing seed germination. Soil solarization method is also effective in weeding the garden because it kills the seedlings.
In this method, you will need to place plastic mulch on the soil, which will cause the temperature of the soil to increase. It is best to use this method in late summer. At the same time, let the soil not be disturbed thereafter, so that the subsequent winter crops grow well.
Another method of preventing the growth of chickweed on huge tracts is to practice deep and infrequent irrigation. You may also let cattle graze on the plants, so that the grazing will act as a biological control measure.