As the lawn recovers after the winter months, a number of ‘weed’ species including daisies make their presence felt. Despite their cheerful faces, common daisies in the grass are a sign of underlying problems that could affect the health of your lawn.
Creating mats on the surface of the lawn, their flat, paddle-shaped leaves elbow their way between grass plants to shade them out of existence. And able to lie more or less flat to the ground, the humble daisy usually manages to limbo under the mower blades to avoid destruction. It’s only when they stick up their flowerheads that they risk getting the chop and if they’re coming into seed then this will be spread around the lawn by the action of your mower.
Why are there daisies on my lawn
But it is their very presence that should ring alarm bells for anyone trying to cultivate a bowling green finish. For daisies are able to root into compacted ground that is less conducive to the survival of grass plants. And, as they start their inexorable spread, producing copious offsets, they thrive where others fail.
Compaction on the surface of a lawn is a real problem. It tends to happen most on clay and silt soils, where the small particles of earth can pack closely together under the weight of heavy use – often a huge problem on small, well-trafficked lawns or grass pathways.
Such compaction squeezes air from the soil, which is as fundamental to the survival of grass plant roots as is water. And without the spaces between soil particles at the surface for water to soak in, the soil underneath can dry to the consistency of set concrete. But even in these conditions, daisy roots can grow happily.
How to improve the grass on a lawn
If this compaction is relieved, you will improve the growing conditions for the grass and it is less likely to be pushed out of touch by the daisies. In fact the grass can also be encourage to grow more thickly, so much so, that it can begin to fight back and outgrow the marauders.
Spiking the the surface of the lawn is the best way to push down through the compacted layers. A standard garden digging fork is the best tool for the job. The tines of the fork are simply pushed vertically into the soil, to their full depth. Apply your weight on the top of the fork using your foot. With the tines inserted, work the handle of the fork back and forth to lightly heave the soil up to relieved the compaction. The process is repeated at 10-15 cm intervals across the surface of the lawn.
Not only do you introduce more air into the soil in this way, but you also create holes which will allow water to percolate down to lower levels. This will encourage the roots of the grass plants to grow down with it, making them grow more strongly and being more drought resistant in the summer.
How to get rid of daisies in grass
The next job is to use a spring-tined rake to scratch or ‘scarify’ the surface of the lawn. This will pull out any moss, remove dead grass and clippings from amongst the grass plants, and at the same time pull the mats of daisy leaves upright. In this position they are more likely to be cut by the mower blades. And such damage is not good for their survival.
You can also use a mechanised scarifier with a collection box to make short work of this. Regular scarification will weaken the daisy plants, but improve conditions for grass growth to swing the balance of power in its favour. The mats of daisies can also be sliced and levered out using an old, short-bladed kitchen knife or daisy ‘grubber’.
So take the warning of seeing patches of daisies in the grass, and act to relieve underlying compaction. Who knows, your grass might thank you for it.