Lawn weeds: selecting weedkillers

Successfully controlling weeds in lawns with weedkillers depends upon identifying what weeds you have and then selecting the appropriate chemical. Be very careful using weedkillers on lawns; the wrong dose could seriously harm your lawn. Below you can find details of which weedkillers work best for tackling specific weeds – and information on those that are resistant.

Clover in lawns can be a nuisance, but which weedkiller to use? Image: RHS

Quick facts

Slender speedwell, field woodrush and mind-your-own-business are resistant to weedkillers
Many weeds need more than one application of weedkiller
Always follow the instructions on the weedkiller for the best results
Make sure you use the right product: some are ineffective on specific weeds
Weedy lawns can be turned into wildflower meadows

Practical considerations

For general advice on applying lawn weedkiller, including the timing and methods, see our advice on lawns: weed control.

You will be most successful at controlling the weeds in your lawn if you can identify what they are. This is because certain weedkillers are more effective at killing some weeds than others. Not every gardener knows their lawn weeds, but help is at hand in the form of simple lawn care and British wildflower books. Alternatively, images can often be found on the internet.

Weedkillers for specific plants

Here is a guide to choosing the right weedkiller for your lawn. Just follow these steps:

  • Identify the weeds in your lawn
  • Find them in the list below
  • At the end of the name, it states a control method (numbers 1-7)
  • Read the method below. This tells you which products to use (it states the active ingredients, such as fluroxypyr), and how many applications will be needed to control the weeds
  • Now you know the active ingredients that will work, you can take these names to a garden centre or DIY store and get a product that contains these
  • Alternatively, look in our Weedkillers for gardeners document – sections 1b and c – for the corresponding product trade names (such as 2,4-D/mecoprop-P/dichlorprop-P is sold as ‘Improved Lawn Feed and Weed’)

Weed list

Annual meadow grass (Poa annua): Little response to lawn weedkillers. Feed to encourage other grasses. Seeds freely; always use grass box on the mower. Returf small areas of infestation. It is shallow-rooted and encouraged by frequent watering in dry weather.
Bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus): Method 6
Buttercup, creeping (Ranunculus repens): Method 3
Cat's ear (Hypochaeris radicata): Method 2
Celandine, lesser (Ranunculus ficaria): Method 7 – needs early treatment. Returf small areas containing celandine.
Chickweed, field mouse-ear (Cerastium arvense): Method 1
Clover, white (Trifolium repens): Method 1
Cranesbill, dove's foot (Geranium molle): Method 5
Daisy (Bellis perennis): Method 2
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Method 3
Hawkbits (Leontodon spp.): Method 2
Hawkweed, mouse-ear (Pilosella officinarum): Method 3
Lesser trefoil (Trifolium dubium): Method 6 – thrives in weak and underfed turf
Mind-your-own-business (Soleirolia soleirolii): Little response to lawn weedkillers – returf infested areas in late autumn or early spring.
Parsley piert (Aphanes arvensis): Method 5 – it is encouraged by close mowing
Pearlwort (Sagina procumbens): Method 5 – it is encouraged by close mowing
Plantains (Plantago spp.): Method 3
Sea milkwort (Glaux maritima): Method 2
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris): Method 2
Silverweed (Potentilla anserina): Method 4
Smooth hawk's-beard (Crepis capillaris): Method 3
Sorrel, common (Rumex acetosa): Method 4 – apply lime in winter to prevent returning
Sorrel, sheep's (Rumex acetosella): Method 5 – apply lime in winter to prevent returning
Speedwell, slender (Veronica filiformis): Little response to lawn weedkillers. Re-seed or returf affected areas of lawn.
Woodrush, field (Luzula campestris): Little response to lawn weedkillers – apply lime in winter to prevent
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Method 5 – thrives in drought-weakened grass

The control methods

Method 1: Plants usually easily killed using one or two applications of weedkillers containing: mecoprop-P; or dichlorprop-P. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, Bayer Lawn Weedkiller or Scotts EverGreen Complete (also contains fertiliser and mosskiller).

Method 2: Plants usually easily killed using one or two applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D plus mecoprop-P; 2,4-D plus dichlorprop-P; or 2,4-D plus dicamba. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, Garden Direct Lawn Weed, Feed & Mosskiller (also contains fertiliser and mosskiller) or Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Food Plus Weed Control (also contains fertiliser).

Method 3: Plants usually easily killed using one or two applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D plus mecoprop-P; 2,4-D plus dichlorprop-P; 2,4-D plus dicamba or fluroxypyr. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller or Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Food Plus Weed Control (also contains fertiliser).

Method 4: Plants needing two or three applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D plus mecoprop-P; 2,4-D plus dichlorprop-P; 2,4-D plus dicamba; or MCPA. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, Bayer Lawn Weedkiller, Vitax LawnClear 2 or Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Food Plus Weed Control (also contains fertiliser).

Method 5: Plants needing two or three applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D plus mecoprop-P; 2,4-D plus dichlorprop-P; or 2,4-D plus dicamba. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller or Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Food Plus Weed Control (also contains fertiliser).

Method 6: Plants needing two or three applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D plus mecoprop-P; 2,4-D plus dichlorprop-P; 2,4-D plus dicamba; or fluroxypyr. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, Scotts Verdone Extra or Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Food Plus Weed Control (also contains fertiliser).

Method 7: Plants needing two or three applications of weedkillers containing MCPA. Examples include Doff Lawn Spot Weeder, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, Bayer Lawn Weedkiller, Vitax LawnClear 2 or Scotts Verdone Extra.

Look in our Weedkillers for gardeners document – sections 1b and c – for a fuller list of corresponding product names (such as 2,4-D/mecoprop-P/dichlorprop-P which is sold as ‘Improved Lawn Feed and Weed’).

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