Pearlwort in Your Lawn? How to Remove it and Prevent it From Returning

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.

Preferred Habitat

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 is a 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

lawn weed killer

If you prefer to use a weedkiller and there are only a few weeds in your lawn, choose a selective spot spray weedkiller like Resolva Spot Spray Weedkiller for Lawns.

Give them a blast and you should notice them deteriorate and day over the next week or so.

Resolva Lawn Weed Killer
2,354 Reviews
Resolva Lawn Weed Killer
- Kills weeds in your lawn with damaging the grass
- Small spray bottle ideal for small areas
- Non-glyphosate formulation

Treat the Whole Lawn with a Selective Weedkiller Concentrate

Pearlwort can and will take over your whole lawn. But the chances are if you have one weed in your lawn, you’ll have others like; White Clover, Daisies and Dandelions.

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.

Weedol Concentrated Lawn Weedkiller
2,391 Reviews
Weedol Concentrated Lawn Weedkiller
- Whole lawn solution killing weeds not grass
- Apply through a sprayer or watering can
- Non-glyphosate formulation

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.

Read: How to Choose a Weed Killer For Your Lawn, Plus, My Top Picks


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. After all, killing and removing the weed is only half the battle!

Don’t Overwater Your Lawn

water the 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.

Read: Why Most People Water Their Lawn WRONG and How to Water the Right Way

Aerate Your Lawn to Relieve Soil Compaction

lawn aeration

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.

Read: How to Aerate Your Lawn: The Ultimate Guide

Scarifying Will Reduce Lawn Thatch

lawn scarification

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.

Read: Why, When and How to Scarify Your Lawn

Also Read: What Kind Of Scarifier Do I Need? Manual, Electric or Petrol?

Add Fertiliser to Put Vital Nutrients Back into the Soil

lawn fertiliser

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;

  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium, and
  • Phosphorous

Then apply a good, slow-release fertiliser at least once a year to keep the soil nutrient rich.

Read: Lawn Fertiliser: What, Why, When and How to Feed Your Lawn

Also Read: What’s the Best Lawn Feed to Use and When? Top Selling Products Reviewed

Cut the Grass on a Regular Basis, But Not Too Short

mow the lawn

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.

Read: How to Mow the Lawn Like a Pro


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.

About Tim Stephens

I'm a professional gardener with degrees in Horticulture & Landscape Gardening. I want to help you create the garden of your dreams. I want your garden to look like it’s maintained by a professional. As if I was there doing it all for you!

Leave a comment