When springtime comes around, you want your lawn to be the perfect place for outdoor lounging or playing with kids. However, one pesky weed could ruin all of your hard work – Dock Weeds!
Dock weeds are a species of invasive weed that has roots that are deep into the soil. They are aggressive plants that can take over your lawn and garden if you let them, and they can grow to be quite large and difficult to remove, making them frustrating for homeowners.
The good news is that there are multiple ways to get rid of them. If you’re tired of dealing with these weeds year after year, read on to learn how to identify them and how to get rid of dock weeds for good!
What Dock Weeds Are
There are two main subspecies of dock weed that are the primary nuisance to homeowners and gardeners the world over. The most common dock weed is Rumex obtusifolius, which is commonly called Bitter Dock or Broad-leaved Dock. It is originally native to Europe but can currently be found on every temperate continent.
The other main dock weed is Rumex crispus, also called Curly Dock or Yellow Dock. It is also native to Europe as well as western Asia, but can be found globally, and is common in the United States, southern Canada, and Ireland.
Both Bitter Dock and Curly Dock are perennials, meaning their life cycles are longer than two years. The family of dock weeds in general is one of the invasive species in all temperate climates and continents, and both of the weeds above are classified as “injurious weeds” in the U.K. and a noxious weed in the United States.
How and Where Do Dock Weeds Grow?
These plants grow in clusters along the ground roots across large areas of turfgrass in yards across America each year causing major problems for homeowners everywhere.
Under the soil, dock weeds grow a large and branched tap root that can regenerate again from ground level if damaged. This makes them hard to root out, and also sucks up many nutrients from the surrounding soil so that other plants can’t get them.
Dock weeds can grow in almost any conditions, which is what makes them so invasive and aggressive. In addition to lawns and gardens, you can find them in disturbed and unhealthy soil, waste spaces, road sides, shorelines, fields, meadows, and along forest edges.
They produce seeds in abundance, and the seeds are able to survive in soil for potentially up to 50 years, again making them very difficult to eliminate for good.
Spotting and Identifying Dock Weeds
Knowing what dock weed looks like at different life stages is very important when trying to identify whether or not they are growing in your lawn so that you can take action against them accordingly.
As you can see in the name Broad-leaved Dock, this weed is most easily recognized by its large, broad leaves that stick up in a cluster close to the ground. These leaves are heart shaped on the bottom and pointed on the top, and they can grow to be up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. Some of the leaves at the bottom of the weed have a red stem.
The Curly Dock is so named because the leaves that shoot off the stalks are smooth but have distinctive wavy and curly edges. This dock weed can grow stalks up to 5 feet high, and from these stalks stems branch off, on which flowers and seeds are produced in clusters.
Eliminating Dock Weeds From Your Yard
It can be very difficult to get rid of dock weeds once they have taken over your lawn, but there are several ways you can try to kill it.
You can get rid of dock weeds by using either chemical or organic means. Let’s investigate both options separately.
Via Chemical Means
Chemical herbicides are one of the most effective ways of killing dock weeds. If you do want to use chemical treatments, make sure you look for one specifically designed for getting rid of dock weeds, like a broadleaf weed killer such as Ortho Weed B Gone. Triclopyr is an effective chemical against dock weeds, so an herbicide such as BrushTox Brush Killer is also a great option.
When using chemical removal methods, be sure not to over-apply the chemicals and keep children and pets away from these areas while they’re still wet. Make sure any plants in your garden are well watered before applying the weed killer; this will help protect them against injury or death caused by exposure to harsh substances like herbicides.
Via Organic Means
As we’ve mentioned above, dock weeds are some of the most difficult weeds to remove via organic means like hand pulling. This is because the root is so deep and so effective at regrowing from any broken root pieces. However, if you are able to dig up at least the top three inches of the taproot and root system, then you stand a chance.
Wait until it has rained, because it is easier to dig up roots when the soil is moist or damp. Use a shovel or hand trowel, and any root pieces make sure to burn or dispose of in a bag rather than composting.
Preventing Dock Weeds From Growing
One thing to remember is that prevention is key when trying to control these weeds. Preventing dock weed from growing will help you keep your yard looking great all year long!
Dock weed prevention is best done in the fall when they are at their weakest point so that they will not come back again in the spring. Keep up with preventative maintenance throughout the year so that new growth doesn’t become a problem next season!
Over-seeding is an effective way at making sure the dock weeds don’t get a foothold in your lawn and that it is full of healthy and thick turf grass and plants. Mowing also is helpful for keeping your lawn healthy, as is aerating and de-thatching in regular intervals.
Dock weeds can be a nuisance in your yard, but they’re not impossible to get rid of. We hope this article has given you some insight on how and where dock weeds grow, what they look like, and the best ways to eliminate them from your property. Be sure to spot them early so they can be controlled before they take over!
If these methods are too much work for you or if you have any other questions about getting rid of dock weed plants, feel free to reach out! Remember that we are here to help you with any questions or concerns; we would love nothing more than helping make your yard beautiful and healthy once again.