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How to Get Rid of Carpetweed

Weeds on your turf can be quite frustrating to deal with and may give us fits of rage where we shake our fists at our lawn. This can especially be the case if carpetweed is growing on your lawn and gardens because of how hard they are to get rid of once firmly established. So exactly what is carpetweed and what can you do about it? Keep reading as the experts here at Solutions Pest and Lawn have a sure-fire way to eliminate them from your yard.

Carpetweed, also called devil’s grip and Indian chickweed, is native to Africa and tropical America but is found in most of the United States and is especially common in the East. A broadleaf summer annual, carpetweed grows in disturbed sandy soil of moderate to excellent fertility and is a common problem in garden beds and newly seeded lawns as well as waste areas along roadsides and railroad tracks.

Since carpetweed is an annual weed, all reproduction is through seeds. Carpetweed can be a sizable issue in ornamental plant beds and in newly established or thinning turf. There are other low growing weeds that can be found in these locations, but there are easy ways to tell them apart. Chickweeds and speedwells are low growers, but lack the whorled leaves and forked branching of stems.

Some customers of ours usually come to us after trying and failing to remove carpetweed using sprays bought from a big box store or a local garden center. For a pesky persistent weeds such as this, it’d be wise to break out the professional grade herbicides we carry at Solutions Pest and Lawn for maximum effect. Shop our selection of recommended carpetweed control products below and read further to learn more about this weed as well as the best techniques and methods of control and prevention.

How To Get Rid of Carpetweed: Solutions 4 Step Process

Step One: Identification It's important, for the purposes of control and removal, to be sure the type of weed you have is actually carpetweed and not some other similar looking invasive weed. Proper identification of the weed you are encountering on your lawn will help you to understand what the weeds tendencies and characteristics are and can also point you in the right direction of which products can best treat that particular weed.

This is important because some common lawn weeds have a high tolerance or resistance to particular herbicides and control methods and are specifically labeled for certain weeds and not for others. If you misdiagnose the weed on your lawn as carpetweed when it's in fact not, you may purchase a herbicide not meant to tackle it and it will lead to disappointing results and overall, a waste of money.

Carpetweed can be distinguished by their seedlings, which appear as dime-sized rosettes as soon as the soil has warmed in spring but quickly grow into a circular mat forming an extensive carpet over the soil within weeks, which explains their name. The prostrate stems are slender, green, and multibranched with whorls of 3-8 smooth light green leaves at each node.

Carpetweed leaves are egg-shaped to elliptical, and range between .4 to 1.2 “ in length, and taper to a tiny petiole. Clusters of two to five small white flowers are produced on slender stalks at the leaf axis in mid to late summer. Small three-parted egg-shaped fruits contain orange-red seeds. The root system is a fibrous taproot.

If you are unsure of what weed you have, you can contact us at identification@solutionsstores.com and send us a photo of your weed and we will identify it for you and suggest treatment options.


Step Two: Inspection. Once the plant has been properly Identified, you can then move to the inspection process. Carpetweed is a summer annual weed which grows low to the ground forming a sort of matted carpet like appearance, hence their name. Carpetweed seeds germinate later than most other summer weeds and as a result they can fall under the radar when treating your lawn, depending upon the timing of the treatment.

Carpetweed thrives on turf that is thinning or is newer and grows best in soils that are moist and rich but they can also be established on drier soils.


Step Three: Control. Your best bet when dealing with carpetweed is making sure they don’t germinate to begin with by laying out a pre-emergent herbicide such as Isoxaben 75WG. This will wipe out the carpetweed before they pop up out of the ground.

If carpetweed has already emerged on your lawn they can possibly be handpulled out if it there isn’t many or if they are young, but if there is a large invasion, some post-emergent products can help to eliminate these invaders. We recommend Atrazine or Celsius WG. Some other good options are Glyphosate 4 Plus Weed Killer or Quinclorac. These professional quality herbicides will deal damage to the leaves on the plant and hinder the development of the root system. The best time to apply these herbicides early on in the summer when the plant is young and actively growing as this is the time when they are most vulnerable to herbicides.


Step Four: Prevention. The best defense against carpetweed is a thick lawn that is well fertilized and maintained. Implement proper cultural lawn care maintenance practices such as watering, mowing and feeding to make your yard less conducive to carpetweed making a return and invading your yard. In gardens, mulching will greatly reduce or prevent carpetweed growth.


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Learn More About Carpetweed

Carpetweed is a frustrating lawn weed that, as its name indicates, spreads very quickly on the ground to form a carpet-like matting. Known scientifically as Mollugo verticillata, carpetweed hails from a group of tropical and subtropical herbaceous plants and dwarf shrubs with fleshy or succulents leaves which are seen most prominently in southern Africa.


While experts are not quite sure where the plant originated, some speculate the plant being in the tropical region of America. No matter the case, carpetweed now is a common weed found throughout much of North America.


Carpetweed is also known by other names such as green carpetweed, Indian chickweed, whorled chickweed, and devil’s grip. This invasive plant is commonly found in sunny, areas that are undergoing stress as well as being frequently discovered in tilled gardens, newly planted lawns, along roadsides or railways. While it is usually found in dry sites and sandy soil, carpetweed is versatile enough to thrive in moist soils. It does not compete well with taller plants that shade it out from the sun.


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Carpetweed Growing habits and appearance

Carpetweed is a summer annual which begins to germinate near the end of spring, after the soil has warmed, and grows rapidly to form a circular mat up to 2 feet across spreading in all directions from a sparsely branched central taproot. The plant stay low to the ground, forming a mat that rarely goes beyond 5 inches in height.

The stems of carpetweed are on the smooth side and branch at nodes where the leaves are also formed, often with a pinkish swelling at the base where it joins with the axis. There are relatively long internodes between the nodes.

The leaves are borne in whorls at the nodes, with long internodes between.

The stalkless, long and narrow leaves occur in flat whorls of three to eight at each node. Each green leaf of carpetweed is smooth and hairless and can range up to 1½ inch long and ¼ inch wide. The shape of its leaves can vary, and can be anything from linear to elliptic to obovate to oblanceolate to broadly spatulate, and rounded or pointed at the tip. What’s interesting about the leaves is that they are edible which cooked and have been used in food recipes.

Plants begin blooming in mid-summer and continue flowering through early fall, for about two months. The small, star-shaped flowers are produced in clusters of 2 to 5 flowers on long stalks in the axils of the leaves. Each ⅛ to ¼ inch wide flower has 5 sepals that look like petals. The sepals are green on the underside and white to greenish-white on the upper end, often with vertical pale green lines. There is a central green ovary with a tripartite style and 3 to 5 white stamens surrounding the ovary. Carpetweed flowers are known to attract the attention of small flies, bees and other insects.

Flowers are followed by tiny, egg-shaped, thin-walled, three-valved fruit capsules that can hold more than 30 tiny seeds. The dry fruit splits open when ripe. The orange-red to reddish-brown, kidney-bean-shaped seeds are glossy and generally feature 5 to 8 parallel, curved dark brown ridges along the sides. The plants can very easily reseed, often forming colonies. Birds and small mammals will eat the seeds. Carpetweed reproduces only by seed.

The only other plants carpetweed might be confused with are the bedstraws (Galium spp., such as the introduced sweet woodruff, G. odorata, or the native catchweed bedstraw, G. aparine), sprawling plants with whorled leaves and white flowers. But those species have 4 parts to the flower instead of 5, often have hairy rather than smooth leaves, and generally are not as flat to the ground.


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Removal Options for Carpetweed

Carpetweed can easily removed manually via hand pulling or the use of a hoe in ornamental or vegetable gardens or in small areas of turf. It’s best to remove the plants before they begin flowering to prevent seeds from setting.

The use of mulch will greatly reduce or prevent carpetweed from taking over gardens and via implementing proper turf maintenance (such as a regular mowing, fertilization and watering schedule) will encourage a strong lawn that will choke out carpetweed and other problematic weeds. Both pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides can be used if mechanical removal is not an option.

While carpetweed may be unsightly to landscapers, this plant is a subject of fascination to plant biochemists due to how the plant unusual photosynthetic pathway characteristics intermediate between the two forms of photosynthesis.


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Carpetweed Control Tips and Recommendations

Aside from using the products above according to their label, some things you can do to keep weeds like carpetweed from growing on your lawn is maintain a dense, actively growing turf through proper mowing, fertilizing, and watering practices. Mow at the proper height for your selected adapted turfgrass. Coring and traffic control reduce compaction and encourage desirable turfgrass competition. It is best to control this summer annual broadleaf weed in late spring or early summer because it is easier to control at this time and the turf will have a greater chance of recovering the areas previously occupied by weeds.

For more information on controlling carpetweed on your lawn and to get personalized advice and a plan of action from experts, contact us at
askapro@solutionsstores.com or call our customer service line at (800) 479-6583.


Additional Resources:

Carpetweed - Penn State


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