Garden lore

It surprised him to discover that gardening, for all its air of prelapsarian serenity, is furiously competitive, frequently indulged in by the envious, the deceitful, the quietly criminal.

The Pedant in the Kitchen by Julian Barnes (2003).

Onehunga weed or prickle weed in the lawn.

Onehunga Weed

Onehunga Weed

The greatest curse of the lawn is the prickly Onehunga weed. If you know you had it last year – prickles in the feet- now is the time to act. It will take several years to eradicate entirely, but it will get worse if you leave it. You want to break the cycle and stop it from setting seed in early summer. These weeds are annuals – usually they germinate in autumn, romp away in spring (right now, in fact), flower, set seed and prickles and die as lawns dry out over summer. If you only have a little, hand weed it. There are specific sprays developed for Onehunga weed (ask at your local garden centre). We prefer to let the grass grow considerably longer than usual and then follow up in two to three weeks time by cutting it very short – scalping it in fact. The growth stretches the Onehunga weed up and it does not survive being cut very short. Timing is of the essence – if you leave it too late, the prickles and seeds will be developing. Onehunga weed does best in poor conditions. It is not so good at competing in a lush, healthy lawn.