Plantain Control – How To Eliminate The Weed Plantain From Your Lawn

By: Jackie Carroll

Plantains are unsightly lawn weeds that thrive in compacted soil and neglected lawns. Plantain weed treatment consists of diligently digging out the plants as they appear and treating the plants with herbicides. Since weed plantain thrives in poorly established lawns, the best prevention is a healthy lawn. Keep reading to learn more about plantain control.

Broadleaf and Narrow Leaf Plantains

The two types of plantains that are commonly found in lawns are broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) and narrow-leaf, or buckhorn plant (P. lanceolata). These two perennial weeds are easily differentiated by their leaves.

Broadleaf plantains have smooth, oval leaves while buckhorn plantain has ribbed, lance-shaped leaves. Both types are found throughout the U.S. where they thrive in compacted soil.

Preventing Plantain Lawn Weeds

The best way to prevent plantains in the lawn is to keep the soil aerated and healthy. Aerate compacted soil and follow a regular schedule of fertilization at least twice a year. Water the lawn deeply when there is less than an inch (2.5 cm.) of rainfall in a week. A healthy lawn crowds out plantains, but the plantains crowd out the grass when the lawn is in poor condition.

Plantain weeds also contaminate mowers and other equipment used on the lawn. Clean your equipment thoroughly before using it again to prevent the spread of planting lawn weeds.

Plantain Weed Treatment

Plantain control can be achieved by pulling or digging the plants as they emerge when the infested area is small. This is easiest in sandy soil or soil that has been softened by rain or irrigation. You may have to dig and pull the plants in the area several times before achieving complete control. The weeds must be removed before they have a chance to produce seeds.

When large numbers of the weeds are present, plantain lawn weeds are best controlled with herbicides. Choose a post-emergent herbicide labeled for plantain control. Post-emergent herbicides are most effective against plantains in fall when the plants are moving carbohydrates to the roots for winter storage. You can also apply the herbicides in spring.

Carefully follow the label instructions regarding mixing, timing, and application procedures. Avoid spraying when temperatures are above 85 degrees F. (29 C.) and on windy days. Store any unused portions of the herbicide in the original container and out of reach of children.

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Controls for Broadleaf Plantain

Mechanical methods, such as hoeing or cultivation, if carried out thoroughly to uproot the entire root system can be effective to control young plants. Mulches, such as black plastic or landscape fabric, are effective to control this weed in flowerbeds or backyard gardens.

Large populations may be controlled by application of herbicides specific to labelled crops. In cool-season lawns, the herbicide mesotrione (Tenacity) can prevent broadleaf plantain from germinating when applied to newly seeded turf. In landscapes, pre-emergent herbicides, such as isoxaben (Gallery, Snapshot) or indaziflam (Marengo) controls this weed. Once established in lawns, they are best managed by a herbicide containing 2,4-D or triclopyr (Turflon) as active ingredients or a pre-mixed herbicide, such as Q-4, containing multiple active ingredients. Late-fall application provides consistent control following application of a systemic herbicide to control broadleaf plantain. Once broadleaf plantain establishes in landscapes, chemical control may be limited to spot-application of glyphosate (Roundup or other formulations) or glufosinate (Rely).

Author: Rakesh Chandran, WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist
Last Reviewed: July 2020

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by West Virginia University Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.

How to Kill Broadleaf Weeds

Getting a handle on your weed problem doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your desirable plants. Proper lawn care is just one step to take in combating dandelions and other taproot weeds, but there are other methods to use based on how many square feet you treat.

Best Homemade Broadleaf Weed Killer

This is one of our favorite homemade weed killer recipes, and it performs best when used on a warm, sunny day. If you must spray weeds on a cloudy day, be sure to add the orange essential oil, as it gives your weed killer the extra boost it needs to kill broadleaf weeds on the dreariest of days.

All-Natural Weed Killer Recipe

  • 1-gallon pure white vinegar
  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • 15 drops orange essential oil (optional)

For killing grass permanently with a simple and inexpensive home remedy, use this popular solution. Inside a multipurpose sprayer that holds a gallon or more, mix vinegar, salt, dish soap, and essential oils.

Close sprayer with lid and swirl ingredients inside to mix thoroughly. Make sure the salt dissolves or it will clog your sprayer. Spray your weeds directly and be careful not to spray any grasses, aside from crabgrass, as this solution is a grass killer.

This mixture is the best way to kill grass naturally without resorting to potentially dangerous chemical compounds you buy at the store.

How to Get Rid of Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf plantain is one of the more troublesome perennial weeds landscapers have to deal with. Using a broadleaf weed killer that contains Glyphosate 4 helps control this weed as it goes after the root system of the plant, not just the leaves.

Pre-emergent herbicides prevent broadleaf plantain from ever-growing, but none of these is a natural weed killer for lawn. Herbicides work best on thistle and other weeds that are working as a ground cover.

The best way to rid your lawn of the broadleaf plantain is to dig them up before weed seeds begin to spread. Hand weeding ensures you get the entire plant, including the root.

With plantains, leaving any piece of the root inside the soil allows it to regenerate and return to mar your lawn. Once dug up, apply corn gluten to your grass to help prevent new weeds from growing, but corn gluten is not sufficient on actively growing weeds.

Broadleaf Weed Control in Lawns

Vinegar and salt is one homemade dandelion killer that won’t kill grass if you are careful when spraying it. Always spray the weeds directly never spray any of the greens, unless they are broadleaf grasses you are looking to kill.

DIY Vinegar Broadleaf Killer Recipe

To use this easy DIY brush and weed killer, use a clean spray bottle and combine the vinegar with the salt. Close the spray bottle and set the sprayer to stream rather than spray.

For killing weeds with vinegar, squirt the heads of the dandelions or other weeds directly without spraying the surrounding grass and plants you want to keep. Avoid spraying this mixture into the soil, as it can cause the ground to go sterile for up to two years.

Best Ways to Kill Weeds in Flower Beds

Some weed killing methods such as Borax, lemon juice, vodka, and vinegar work best in areas where no other vegetation is around. The acetic acid found in vinegar provides vinegar with its unique taste but also kills most plants it comes into contact with.

Use vinegar and other techniques for killing weeds in sidewalk cracks or driveways. It’s an excellent alternative to chemical weed control.

For flower beds and vegetable gardens, control broadleaf weeds with organic herbicides or other natural weed control methods. Applying a generous layer of mulch to garden beds is as effective as most organic weed killers in large areas. The best part about mulch and other natural methods is you won’t have to deal with any toxic chemicals.

Different Ways to Control Weeds

For weed and pest control, make a spray solution with one-half gallon of vinegar, one tablespoon dish soap, 15 drops of clove oil, and 15 drops of peppermint oil. The clove oil kills the cellular membranes of the plants, while the peppermint oil works to drive unwanted pests away.

Mixing a quart of water and two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol works to kill dandelions and a few other weeds. Spray the weed, making sure all the leaves are wet. The rubbing alcohol pulls out moisture, which kills the plant. Always apply on a sunny day and avoid spraying wanted vegetation.

Boiling water poured directly on weeds kills them through scalding. Always pour boiling water carefully, so as not to splash it on yourself or surrounding plants. For extra weed-killing power, sprinkle wet weeds with rock or table salt.


Thank you for reading about how to kill broadleaf weeds using our homemade killers. If you found any of our tips on how to get rid of broadleaf plantain and other broadleaf weeds helpful, please share our homemade broadleaf weed killer recipes and ideas with others on Facebook and Pinterest.

What Is Plantain?

You have probably seen plantain many times in your own yard and it may be one of those nemesis weeds you fight off on a regular basis. Plantain is a low-growing plant that often has broad, medium green leaves sprouting right out of the soil in flat rosettes.

If left to flower, tall, thin spikes grow and tiny flowers appear that are almost indistinguishable. These flowers transform into the light seeds that are spread by the wind to other parts of your yard. If you want to keep plantain under control, remove the spikes as soon as you see them because the flowers make it hard to tell when they've gone to seed.

Plantain is a perennial plant with a thick taproot. They sprout in mid-spring, about the same time as the dandelions in your lawn. They are a very hardy plant and if you leave just a small bit of root in the ground, they will grow back. That's why they are such a nuisance in a well-groomed lawn.

  • Latin name:Plantago major
  • Common name: plantain, the 'Bandaid plant'
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: Found everywhere in the US
  • Exposure: Full sun

When it comes to tackling weeds, the best defense is a good offense. You should always take these steps to keep your grass hardy and robust, reducing the chances of weeds taking over.

  • Water deeply and infrequently—If you want your grass to have strong, deep roots, you need to water deeply and infrequently instead of choosing shallow, daily watering. With deep, sturdy roots, your grass can grow nice and thick and compete with weeds that may try to grow.
  • Mow high—Weeds need sunlight to grow. If you let your grass blades grow taller by setting your lawn mower to the first or second highest setting, the grass will grow tall enough to cast shade on any weed seeds, preventing them from sprouting.
  • Feed regularly—Stressed lawns are more susceptible to being crowded by weeds. Feeding regularly will keep your lawn lush and make it less hospitable to enterprising weeds.

Watch the video: How to Kill Weeds in the Lawn Without Killing Grass

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