How to Get Rid of Thistles in the Lawn

Thistles in the lawn

Thistles can be a huge hassle to get rid of. If you remove these plants, they often grow back again quickly. What is the best way to get rid of them?

When you pull out thistles, you should uproot them and get rid of the plant completely so that it doesn’t grow back. If you use a herbicide, coat the lawn thoroughly in it so that all of the thistles die.

You can also use extra grass seed to keep thistles from growing on your lawn. The more thorough you are with your lawn care, the longer it will take before you have a problem with thistles again.

Uprooting Thistles Doesn’t Always Work

Sometimes, putting on gloves and uprooting thistles by hand is a quick, simple, effective, and free way to get rid of them. If you are dealing with creeping or dwarf thistles, you can uproot them by hand and kill them.

However, many other thistles can easily grow back even if you do your best to remove them completely. Even if you use a weeder tool, some species of thistle will still recover. It takes herbicides to kill the hardier species of thistles.

How to Get Rid of Thistles in Your Yard

Weedkilling chemicals are the right way to do it. The more thorough you are with weedkilling chemicals, the less likely the thistles are to come back. You want to kill every last plant as if one plant survives; thistles can spread around your lawn again.

Covering your whole lawn in herbicide can kill other weeds besides thistles and make your whole lawn look better. You should also encourage grass to grow as well as possible after putting chemicals on your lawn.

Some types of thistles, such as the Canada thistle, are more resistant to pesticides than others. However, herbicides are the best way to kill thistles. Removing them manually isn’t nearly as effective, and things like aeration prevent rather than kill weeds.

Are Herbicides Safe for Pets and Children?

Since herbicides are poisons, you have to be careful with them. Keep kids and pets off of your lawn for a while after you spray it. Each herbicide will have directions for how to use it safely.

What Happens if it Rains Right After You Spray Your Lawn?

Rain can wash the chemicals off of the thistles, making them less effective. It might still work, but there is a good chance the rain will prevent the weed-killing chemicals from working. Don’t spray your lawn unless it is unlikely to rain soon.

If it does rain right after you spray your lawn, you should still wait a few weeks before you spray it again. Even if rain occurs right after one spraying, using chemicals too often can damage your lawn.

Why are Thistles Hard to Eliminate?

Thistles can easily spread from seeds. Seeds can spread when you walk on your lawn or mow it. It is not easy to stop seeds from spreading around, though killing thistles before they flower can help.

Thistles also have deep root systems that the plant can regrow from. The key is persistence. If you go after your thistles regularly, they will not be able to stay alive. Either weedkiller will kill them, or you will damage them often enough that the root systems starve.

Is it Important to Get Rid of Thistles?

Some people might not mind the look of a few thistles on their lawn. However, the problem will get much worse if you don’t take care of it. The longer the problem goes on, the harder it will be to fix. Take care of the problem early when it was relatively easy to correct.

Occasionally Use Fertilizer on Your Lawn

You don’t have to use fertilizer very often – once a year is good enough. However, you should use fertilizer sometimes rather than not at all. Not bothering with fertilizer makes it easier for weeds to grow.

Nutrients can help prevent thistles and other weeds from growing on your lawn. Without sufficient nutrients, the grass won’t grow well, which leaves room for thistles. Thistles and other weeds can tolerate a lack of nutrients.

Plant Extra Grass to Crowd Out Thistles

Thistles grow on parts of your lawn where the grass isn’t growing properly. The more you water, fertilize, aerate, and in other ways, take care of your lawn, the fewer problems you will have with thistles. If there is strong, healthy grass all over your lawn, thistles won’t have any room to grow anywhere.

You Can Use a Plastic Sheet to Kill Thistles

The heat generated by a plastic sheet can kill thistles and prevent them from growing back again. After uprooting a patch of thistles, try putting a clear plastic sheet over the spot for a few weeks during sunny weather. This will often do so much damage to the thistles, including their roots, that they never grow back again.

Aerating Your Lawn Can Work Wonders

Walking on your lawn is bad for grass and good for weeds. It compacts the soil and prevents air, water, and nutrients from reaching into the ground. If the conditions in the soil are poor, grass cannot grow, but thistles still can.

Invest in an aerator – even a cheap, manual one – and use it occasionally. It works best if you take the time to cover your whole lawn and not merely where you have a problem with weeds. Again, anything that is good for grass growth is bad for weeds.