Question of the Week – Number One: September 10, 2010

“What is this ugly, tough little weed, and how can I get rid of it?” (Photo by FB reader Brian L.)

This is a very common fall weed called roadside aster. My best way of helping you is to list the critical facts.

What you must know…
Roadside aster has tiny leaves, but nonetheless, it is a “broadleafed” weed. That means simply that it is not a grass.

Before it flowers, roadside aster resembles tufts of moss in the lawn. Photo by FB reader Brad M.

Broadleafed weedkiller sprays will kill the current plants. While there are products on the market that contain only 2,4-D, most contain a blend of two additional herbicides. Those two additional weedkillers are active in the soil, so you must be careful when using one of those blended products beneath trees.
Spray before the roadside asters start to bloom and set seed. That will all happen quickly, and those seeds will be the source of weeds for next year.
Roadside aster is a “weed of neglect.” It shows up where we have the most difficult time reaching our lawn with irrigation and fertilizer.
Therefore, your first step in dealing with it will be to ramp up your lawn management.

Continued Below

In the whole scheme of things, roadside asters are fairly low-concern weeds. The steps mentioned above will easily eliminate them.

It’s easy to see how the plant gets its name “roadside asters.”

Note to those who will say, “But they’re pretty little wildflowers. How can you tell people to kill them?”

For me, that’s easy! Once these plants finish their life cycles and die, they leave behind painful, wiry stubble that is also quite unattractive. The blooms may be pretty for a couple of weeks, but your lawn will be unsightly for the five winter months thereafter.

This is how unattractive roadside asters can be once they finish blooming.
Posted by Neil Sperry
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