Pearlwort or Sagina procumbens is sometimes used as an alternative ground cover to a grass lawn.
However, when it inhabits a lawn when and where you don’t want it to, it can be a menace, especially if given the chance to spread.
This article will show you how to identify Pearlwort in your lawn, how to remove it and then prevent it from growing back.
Pearlwort in a NutShell
Pearlwort is often mistaken for moss, and that’s if you even spot it as it can be hard to see in fine grasses.
So don’t get the moss killer out until you’ve properly identified it.
Pearlwort forms small tufted rosettes of creeping stems which roots at intervals to form a dense mat.
It flowers between May and September with tiny flowers on top of thin stalks. You’ll sometimes be able to see white petals on the flowers but they’re often not present.
A Perennial Weed
Pearlwort is a perennial weed which means the same plant grows and flowers year after year.
Despite having the ability to grow in most types of soil, Pearlwort prefers wet soil. It grows in mats very close to the ground which means it can tolerate close mowing.
It’s often seen in turf with fine grasses like ornamental lawns, bowling greens and golf courses.
How to Remove Pearlwort From Your Lawn
Pealwort can spread and colonise your lawn quickly. If you catch it early you should be able to remove it by hand if not, you might need a weedkiller.
Removing it by Hand
Pearlwort roots don’t tend to grow very deep so removing them by hand is often effective.
If you only have one or two weeds in your lawn, simply pull them out by hand or with a hand fork.
That said, if things have got out of hand and it’s taking over you might need a different approach.
Kill it With a Spot Spray Selective Weedkiller
If you prefer to use a weedkiller and there are only a few weeds in your lawn, choose a selective spot spray weedkiller like Scotts Weedol Lawn Weedkiller Spot Spray or Resolva Spot Spray Weedkiller for Lawns.
Give them a blast and you should notice them deteriorate and day over the next week or so.
Treat the Whole Lawn with a Selective Weedkiller Concentrate
If this is the case, spot spraying is pretty pointless.
You’d be better spraying the whole lawn with a selective weedkiller concentrate like Weedol Lawn Weedkiller Concentrate. This is designed to be mixed with water and spread over your lawn via a watering can or knapsack sprayer.
When using a weedkiller concentrate it’s important to read the instructions carefully and dilute the product as per the instructions. If you make it too weak it might not kill the weeds but if you make it too strong, you could kill the grass as well as the weeds.
How to Prevent Pearlwort From Growing in Your Lawn
As we have discussed, Pearlwort grows in all types of soil but thrives in wet soils.
In order to prevent it from growing back (or even growing in the first place) good lawn care practice will have the biggest impact. Afterall, killing and removing the weed is only half the battle!
Don’t Overwater Your Lawn
Because Pearlwort likes wet soils, avoid overwatering your lawn in the summer months.
If you need to water your lawn, do it once a week, to a depth of 1-2 inches, early in the morning. But only in hot, dry conditions.
If there’s plenty of rain around you shouldn’t need to water at all.
Aerate Your Lawn to Relieve Soil Compaction
Soil compaction happens as a result of heavy use. This could be kids and pets playing on the lawn or using certain parts of the lawn regularly.
The soil particles beneath the grass get pressed together over time, squeezing out air and water. This compaction prevents air and water from penetrating the soil as well as nutrients which are vital for grass growth.
The result is weak, threadbare grass.
Aerating the lawn, either by spiking in the spring or hollow tining in the autumn opens up the surface of the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate. The grass can then absorb them through its roots to produce food and grow.
Scarifying Will Reduce Lawn Thatch
Lawn thatch is a layer of organic material that sits just under the surface of your lawn. It acts a kind of barrier between the grass and the soil.
Some thatch is a good thing as it protects the crown of the grass plant while still letting water, air and nutrients into the soil.
Too much, however, is a bad thing as it stops air, water and nutrients getting into the soil. As a result, the grass doesn’t get what it needs to grow which opens up space for weeds like Lesser Trefoil, Daisies, Dandelions as well as moss infestations.
Scarifying the lawn removes excess thatch which opens the soil up to water, air and the nutrients it needs for grass to produce food and grow.
Add Fertiliser to Put Vital Nutrients Back into the Soil
If you’ve scarified and aerated your lawn you should help aid recovery by applying a good quality fertiliser.
This will put vital nutrients back into the soil, specifically;
- Potassium, and
Then apply a good, slow-release fertiliser at least once a year to keep the soil nutrient rich.
Cut the Grass on a Regular Basis, But Not Too Short
This is the most important and often overlooked aspect of maintaining a healthy lawn.
So cut your grass regularly!
Mowing the lawn regularly prevents the grass from growing too tall. When you mow the lawn regularly you force the grass to grow sideways instead of upwards. The grass grows new roots and new leaves which create a thicker, denser lawn.
And when there’s lots of grass on your lawn, there will be no room for weeds.
The key to preventing Pealwort, however, is to not cut the grass too short. You’ll often see in ornamental lawns, bowling greens and golf courses where the grass is very short (10mm or less). Cut your grass to a height of 1-2 inches.
I’ll say it again, regular mowing is THE MOST important part of maintaining a healthy lawn.
Now It’s Up to You
Like many annual weeds, Pearlwort is pretty easy to remove.
But killing and removing weeds is only half the battle. Weeds in your lawn are generally a symptom of other issues like a build up of lawn thatch, compacted soil, infrequent mowing, etc.
If you want to keep your lawn dense, green, healthy and weed free you need to give the grass the best chance of success.
- Scarify your lawn to remove excess thatch (every couple of years, in the autumn)
- Aerate compacted areas of lawn in the spring and autumn
- Apply a fertiliser at least once a year to replenish nutrients in the soil
- Cut the grass regularly
It sounds like a lot of work but honestly, it really isn’t. Especially if you’re looking after your lawns at home.
Just the application of a little basic knowledge and your lawn will look the best it ever has.
So now it’s up to you.
What weeds are taking over your lawn and how do you plan to get rid of them?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you have any questions or suggestions again, let me know below. And finally, I’d love to see some before and after photos so send them in and I’ll share them with our community.