How do you remove Hawkweed and plant a native ground cover?
For the past few seasons, I have observed hawkweed taking over my yard. I would like to stop it and plant a native ground cover, but I have no idea what to plant or how to go about removing the hawkweed. My yard gets fairly full sun. What would you advise?
Abi Griffith, Horticulture Community Education Assistant
Hawkweed can be a difficult plant to control once it has started to establish itself. Control methods include digging the plants out in spring or early summer, when the ground is still moist so you can do your best to get the whole root out. They spread through stolons (runners) and rhizomes, and anything left behind will re-grow. Be sure to remove any flower heads to avoid any further seed from spreading.
If the infestation is over a large area, you could consider tarping to smother the plants, because extensive digging or tilling are not recommended for large, matted areas, since you would most likely stimulate more growth by disturbing the roots. Additionally, mowing is not recommended, as the rosettes lay too close to the ground to do anything to affect the plant, and may even encourage flowering. Chemical options include herbicides that control broadleaf plant species. More info can be found here. Read and follow directions on the label of any herbicide or pesticide product you use and spot treat.
Just as importantly, you will also want to focus on the health of the areas you will be planting back into, to ensure they can grow and outcompete weeds. A soil test could help you determine what adjustments to pH or fertility you may need to make.
Depending on how big of an area you are talking about, you may want to tackle the issue in sections, while making sure unaddressed hawkweed does not go to seed. This could give you time to plan out where ground cover would work and where a low input lawn might make sense.
I’m including resources for both: