How to get rid of Creeping Woodsorrel

Lawn & Garden

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Does your yard have creeping woodsorrel and you are constantly wondering how to get rid of it? Creeping woodsorrel, scientifically known as Oxalis Corniculata is among the weeds that can be a nuisance when it becomes too much in your lawn. If it is not managed, it can spread to almost all parts of your lawn which may affect the general well-being of your lawn.

In this article, we will review how to identify creeping woodsorrel in your lawn and further explore ways in which you can clear it out from your yard.

How does creeping woodsorrel manifest in your lawn?

Aside from lawns, creeping woodsorrel can be found in greenhouses, gardens and nurseries as well. It is a perennial weed that can live in your yard throughout the year and survive all the seasons. It grows in areas which both have direct sunlight and full shade as long as the area constantly receives enough moisture.

It is easy to identify creeping woodsorrel because it grows in a horizontal manner as it forms stems and roots where its nodes come into contact with the soil. It has a long stem and its leaves are three arranged in heart shapes towards the tip. Its leaves are either green or purple however if exposed to too very high temperatures they begin to turn red and eventually they wilt.

The spring season is when the creeping woodsorrel begins to form seeds and start to flower rapidly as compared to other seasons. Its flowers are yellow with 5 petals that usually grow in small clusters of about two to five. When the creeping woodsorrel is exposed to direct sunlight and in the dark, they fold downwards and its leaves close.

Oxalis has hairy and round seedpods that have a pointed tip and its sees are rough and flat with a reddish brown color. When the seedpods reach maturity, they rapture and expel the seeds into further distances from the plant itself making its rough seeds stick to different surfaces they come into contact with including your mowing machine, irrigation tubing or even your plastic pots around your lawn.

In as much as the seeds of the creeping woodsorrel can germinate at really low temperatures, they require light for optimum germination. Extremely cold or hot temperatures may reduce the growth of the weed but they don’t die, they remain in your yard and regrow. Creeping woodsorrel grows and spreads very fast as it forms an extensive root system with a fleshy taproot.

What does creeping woodsorrel do to your garden?

Considering the fact that it grows throughout the year, it becomes a problem during the dormancy period of warm season grass and begins to establish and spread to cover up major parts of your lawn.

In as much as the creeping woodsorrel can be used to cure stem bleeding and its leaf juice can be used to cure stings from bees and wasps, it can cause damage to your lawn if not properly managed. It competes for light and nutrients alongside already growing grass which eventually reduces yield in your lawn. It is labor intensive and it affects your lawn by covering grass. In areas where you are growing maize and sorghum, it is a host to crop diseases like rusts.

How do you weed out creeping woodsorrel from your lawn?

Creeping woodsorrel can be a handful when it comes to its management in your lawn. Lawn management methods such as fertilizing, irrigating or mowing does not clear it out but instead contribute to its rapid spread. Even worse, its rough seeds stick to your lawn machine and you have to go through a whole process of air spraying or washing your machine to avoid spreading it to the weed-free side of your lawn. Because of this, two methods can be used to control the spread of creeping woodsorrel. One being controlling its germinating seeds and removing the already established plants.

Removing the already established weeds

The trick to maintaining your lawn after its manifestation, is to try to control the weed before it begins to flower and before it sets seed. At the same time, the fact that it has already appeared in your yard means that it requires constant observation and frequent weeding. When the creeping woodsorrel has reached maturity, it can be cleared by hand cultivation using different weeding tools such as hoes, hand weeding and by using post-emergent herbicides.

The option of managing creeping woodsorrel by hand weeding is effective when it only occupies a small part of your yard. However, when it has occupied a large area of your lawn then hand weeding does not work because stems and taproot system break off and stay back in the soil which makes the weed regrow. The remaining bits of stems and roots slowly develop into new plants when the surrounding conditions are beneficial to its growth.

When using post-emergent herbicides, they should be applied to your lawn when the temperatures are moderate otherwise it would not work effectively. These herbicides come with instructions for application and should be done precisely around tree roots and shrubs because some of the ingredients in the products are operational in the soil. Sometimes, you would need to add a surface-active agent to your spray mixture to increase how much the herbicide would cover and penetrate into the leaves but this should be as per the indications on the label.

Controlling the seedlings of the weed

Seed germination needs to be prevented in order to avoid the emergence of creeping woodsorrel into your lawn. You can do this by using pre-emergent herbicides or through mulching alongside repeated hand weeding. The pre-emergent herbicides simply kill the weed before its germination phase. Mulching, on the other hand, covers the seeds and blocks their exposure to direct sunlight which stops their germination.

When mulching, you should cover the ground with two to three inches of organic mulch. Mulching may be a difficult task for your lawns but pre-emergent herbicides offer a more effective and fast way to reduce seeding development of weeds above the soil.

The pre-emergent herbicide that you choose to use often come with instructions to guide the application process and should be followed to the letter for maximum results.


The part of your lawn that has been infested by the creeping woodsorrel weed determines whether you will use a pre- or post-emergent herbicide. To reduce its spread and growth, you need to constantly check up on your lawn and frequently hand weed.

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