How to Rid Your Lawn of Canada Thistle

Canada thistle is a weed that is a common problem in North America. It’s native to Europe and Asia, but has made its way over to the United States and is even found in Alaska! This noxious weed spreads rapidly and can cause serious damage to lawns and gardens if not dealt with accordingly. If you see Canada thistle growing in your yard or garden, it’s important to remove them immediately before they spread further. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become for you to eliminate this stubborn plant from your property. 

In this article, we’ve compiled some tips on what Canada Thistle looks like and how to identify it, where and how it grows, and how you can safely get rid of this pesky plant from your lawn for good.

Cirsium arvense, a.k.a. Canada Thistle

What Canada Thistle Is

Canada Thistle is a weed that is considered an invasive species as it spreads easily and can take over areas where it is present. It is also known as Cirsium arvense, as well as Creeping Thistle or Field Thistle. It was originally native to Europe, western Asia, and Northern Africa, but it has now been introduced to many different countries as an invasive weed.

One good thing about Canada Thistle is that it is beneficial to pollenators that depend on nectar. In Britain in 2016 it was one of the top producers of nectar sugar. However, this does not change the fact that it is one of the worst invasive weed species in the entire world.

How and Where Does Canada Thistle Grow?

Canada thistle is a perennial that reproduces by seeds or through shallow root systems which allow them to spread rapidly. It can grow up to 5 feet tall in the right conditions.

It does not reproduce via rhizomes; instead, root buds form on the current roots, producing another offshoot stem and plant. Because of this, it forms extensive clonal colonies that cluster together.

Spotting and Identifying Canada Thistle

The leaves of this plant are spiny, although the stems from which they grow are smooth and a forest green color. These spiny leaves are lobed with jagged edges and can be up to 8 inches long.

At the top of their tall stems, the flowers of the Canada Thistle are purple-pink in color and look like little spined spheres.

Eliminating Canada Thistle From Your Yard

Now that you know how Canada Thistle grows and how to spot if it’s in your yard or garden, you need to get around to removing it from your lawn. Canada thistle is a difficult weed to remove because its roots can grow very deep, though it can be killed by common herbicides.

Remember not to cut down any plants when they are flowering because new seeds will form with each flower.

Via Chemical Means

For areas where Canada Thistle has grown over a large area, the best method is to use a weed killer. A non-selective weed killer that uses glyphosate will be effective at killing the Canada Thistle; however, you need to be careful because it could also kill the other plants and grass in your lawn if you spray them.

When using an herbicide, be sure to follow the directions on the pesticide label regarding how to use it in your yard and in what quantities. As a general rule, though, you need to spray a non-selective herbicide all over the Canada Thistle plants until they wilt within ten minutes.

Via Organic Means

In order to get rid of Canada Thistle organically, the best way is to dig out the whole plant or pull up the root from which it sprouts. If you choose to pull it by hand, be sure to wear thick gloves to protect your hands. Also, be sure to wear old clothes because thistles are spiny and can tear up bits of clothing.

Another organic method of removal is by using a mixture of vinegar and dish soap as you would normally. In order to do this, you will need to spray the Canada Thistle plant with undiluted white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar until it is completely soaked.

Preventing Canada Thistle From Growing

Of course, once you’ve eliminated Canada thistle from your yard it is important to prevent future infestations from taking root. To do this, you can use a lawn aerator or de-thatching tool to loosen up the soil in your lawn so that you are able to get at any seedlings before they have time to take hold in the ground.

Mowing your lawn frequently will help to reduce the spread of Canada Thistle seedlings as well because it will cut down on their sunlight exposure. Repeated cutting of the plant at the same stage in its life cycle will eventually wear the plant down and cause it to whither.

Keep away from bringing any new plants into your yard that could potentially harbor invasive species. They may not take root for a long time but once they do, you’ll have another infestation on your hands.

That’s All

Canada thistle, also known as creeping thistle, is an invasive weed that can be found all over the world. It is a hardy weed and it can be difficult to get rid of. Luckily, there are many ways for you to kill it and prevent it from growing back in your yard.

In this blog post we’ve provided some helpful tips on how to identify the weed, what chemicals work best for eliminating them, as well as which organic methods may help too. We hope these tips will make your battle with the pesky weeds easier!

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