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Speedwell plants are known for their resilience and minimal maintenance requirements, qualities that make them easy to care for. However, while some gardeners might grow speedwell plants on purpose, others are annoyed by their weed-like behavior. So, if you find yourself resonating with the second group, you might be wondering about the best way to control the spread of this unruly species.
To control the spread of speedwell plants, you’ll have to first eliminate them through hand-pulling, herbicides, or mulch, and then take preventative measures to keep them from re-appearing. Some of the best preventative measures include seed removal and taking proper care of your lawn.
To learn more about how you can effectively control the spread of speedwell plants in your growing space, make sure to read on. Below, I’ll go over some of the most important steps to go through if you want to eliminate any existing speedwell plants and prevent them from ever growing again.
1. Hand-Pull Any Existing Speedwell Plants
Speedwells are invasive and will compete with desired plants for resources, often coming out victorious. They can also look out of place in a well-manicured lawn or garden. And if you have livestock, speedwell plants can be toxic to them.
The first step to eradicating speedwells from your garden is to physically remove any existing ones. While there are plenty of methods you can use to do so (as you’ll also see below), nothing works quite as well as hand-pulling.
Unfortunately, though, this might just be the most tedious approach, so prepare yourself for the physical and mental exhaustion that comes with the job. Start with smaller plants, gradually working up to the larger ones. Additionally, wearing gloves will ensure that your hands remain protected from any sharp objects or irritants in the soil.
Controlling the spread of speedwell plants won’t be easy. They have shallow roots and spread rapidly, making them difficult to contain. Additionally, I want to note that hand-pulling is only a viable option if you’ve caught the speedwell spread in time. If your speedwell problem is more advanced, hand-pulling will be inefficient.
While hand-pulling a couple of speedwells here and there is likely doable, if the plant has spread all over your garden, it might be better to resort to one of the more aggressive approaches listed below.
If you do manage to catch the spread in time and choose hand-pulling as your eradicating approach, it’s important to make sure to remove each plant along with its entire root system; otherwise, it’ll start re-growing in no time.
2. Use Herbicides
While using herbicides can be one of the most effective ways to eliminate a certain plant, keep in mind that this is an extremely aggressive approach with several potential side effects, so only rely on it as a last resort (source).
For example, if speedwells have taken over your entire garden, hand-pulling might just not cut it anymore. This is when using a herbicide might be your best option. However, make sure to do your research and choose a variety that won’t pose serious danger to other desirable plants in the same space.
Moreover, make sure that the herbicide you use won’t be harmful to humans or animals, as some cheaper brands can release toxic fumes that can have adverse effects on your health.
Another thing to look out for when choosing a herbicide is whether it’ll actually work on speedwells. Different herbicides target different species, so you’ll want to make sure that the one you’re using will actually serve your desired purpose.
If you’re unsure about which product to choose, don’t hesitate to ask a staff member at the store you’re working at or a local gardening specialist.
Last but not least, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on dosage and application methods in order to get the best results.
Mulching is a practice that can provide a wide array of benefits to your gardening experience. These include:
- Retaining soil moisture
- Providing additional nutrients to the soil
- Protecting against erosion
- Soil temperature control
And that’s not even the full extent of what mulching can do for your garden—it’s also an excellent tool to prevent weed spread. The thick, heavy layer of mulch applied on top of the soil (of course, avoiding any desirable plants) will effectively suffocate any weeds or speedwell plants trying to make their way up.
See our guide on Compost vs Mulch: Make Sure You Know the Proper Use For Each.
4. Grow a Groundcover
This approach follows the same logic and mulching; however, if you’re not a fan of how mulch looks, you can opt for a ground cover instead. Ground covers are low-growing plants that add aesthetic appeal and protection to your lawn or garden.
A prime ground cover example would be grass, which is planted in between other desirable plants to fill the sparse areas and suffocate any potential weeds trying to grow in the area. Maintaining a lush layer of grass all across your growing space will leave no space or nutrients for weeds like speedwell to thrive.
5. Take Good Care of Your Other Plants
Prevention is always better than cure, and the best way to prevent speedwells from growing in the first place is to properly look after your lawn or garden. This means maintaining a diverse, well-looked-after growing space by providing desirable plants with their optimal growing conditions and removing any weeds the minute you see them (and disposing of their seeds right away).
So, conduct regular check-ups to ensure your plants are thriving and in good health while also making sure that there aren’t any weeds growing in the same area.
Speedwells are extremely resilient plants that can be difficult to keep away from your growing space. With that said, by following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to eliminate them effectively and prevent them from ever growing again.
Keeping the speedwell population in your garden at bay will allow any desired plants to thrive while also leading to a more organized look and better aesthetic appeal.
Moreover, since speedwells can be toxic to livestock, if you have any roaming around in your garden, these measures can help protect their lives.