How to get rid of thistle permanently in 2 ways

How to get rid of thistle: Before going to control thistle you should know about its nature. Let’s go step by step.

What is a Thistle:

Thistle (Cirsium arvense) is one of the most stubborn herbaceous weeds of the daisy family that spreads using the lateral roots and airborne seeds. It is harmful enough for your lawn, also it is classified as a Noxious Weed in many countries and states.


What are the weeds:

You already are familiar with the terms weeds, weeds are the unwanted or undesired plants that grow in your lawn. You have to get rid of these weeds if you desire for a kid-friendly lawn as it can spread quickly in your grassland areas and borders. But it is not an easy task for you to eradicate it permanently to get a kid-friendly lawn.

Creeping thistle:

Creeping thistle is one kind of weed that spreads through using lateral roots or can grow well on an extensive root system that can go quite deep into the ground. These weeds can regenerate when it is broken and the root of these weeds are brittle and produce buds at intervals. You must have to control these weeds from your lawn if you desire for a healthy and evergreen lawn because these weeds compete with your lawn plants for light, water and food.

In this article, I am going to tell you some of the necessary things to control thistle by using both natural and chemical methods. So, let’s go and follow the methods carefully, don’t be so hurry.

How can it harm your lawn:

Thistle is tough and spiny, a seed-producing machine which can spread and cover your whole lawn very quickly because it can generate 120000 seeds from one flower, if it happens it will be different to eliminate these from your lawn, sometimes it needs several years to eliminate. That innocent-looking thistle can grow up to six feet tall. If you had seen thistle for the first time in your lawn,  would have taken immediate action as soon as possible otherwise it will have even more the next. 

When it grows:

You can find two types of thistle either they are biennial or even worse-perennial. Biennials are generated well in summer and fall and they generate numerous flower heads in the next spring. Perennial can be seen all the year-round.

When to control:

You have to wait for the best time of the growing period of thistle when they are growing vigorously and before they produce flowers. When they produce flowers and at the time you want to remove them it becomes very harmful for your lawn because this flower contains many thistle seeds which can spread throughout your lawn. You can dig up them at any time of year when they emerge. You can also control them by using both chemical and non-chemical methods when you need.

How to get rid of thistle

Natural or non-chemical control:

It is one of the best options for you to control the thistle without using chemicals, also it is very advantageous and efficient for your lawn because sometimes chemicals can cause serious damage to your lawn. So, here are the natural control-

Dig up them: It is the easiest method to dig up the thistle but sometimes it is not effective because when the roots become brittle they can easily regenerate from the broken pieces. So, you have to become persistent and dig up the whole plant along with its roots. Use a sharp weeding tool to remove the roots along with the plant. It is very significant to remove large weed plants and thistle roots are 20 ft deep.

  • If roots spread very deeply you have to follow multiple strategies to dig out.
  • Don’t keep the thistle roots or shoots into compost pile because it may regenerate again in the following year.

Cut down the top: It is a very effective and one of the best methods to cut down the top of the thistle at the soil level to stress the roots oftentimes and weaken them by cutting over several years. You have to do your job before the flower heads show colour. This is effective for the random thistle not for a large infestation. 

  • When it is creeping thistle the best cutting time is early June when it reaches 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long.
  • Don’t let the flowers dry out because they can spread seed very shortly. 

 Plant densely: Thistle needs a lot of sunlight and water. Baby thistle is sun-loving weeds and it germinates in empty, unshaded soil, so plants densely around it. After the plants become mature it can give shade to baby thistle that’s why it becomes weak and killed.

  • Now the plant regularly is best to easily rebound the weeds.

Cover it: Cover the newly born weeds as soon as possible, it can eradicate thistle spreading. You have to follow a mulching guide that’s best for your lawn. Mulching makes your desired plant healthy by conserving soil moisture and it obstructs the growth of new thistle and other weed plants.

Mow your lawn: Mow your lawn when you have seen the thistle is starting to reserve seeds and keep it away. It is very important to collect and remove the thistle plant at the early bud growth stages before it’s getting to spread new seeds.

Improve soil fertility: Improve your soil fertility as far as possible to weaken the thistle and it helps the desired plant to grow well and able to make a competition with thistle, thus weaken and die the thistle and other weeds.

Spray white vinegar: Pour household white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the thistle plant until the plants are dripping. You need 1 or 2 sprays and you will see it kills the weeds after a few days.

  • Avoid spraying when it has a possibility of rain because it washes away your vinegar and you will need a second application.
  • Household vinegar concentration is only 5% which is very weak so you have to purchase at least 20% concentration vinegar to get rid of thistles. Though it is not safe to consume, it can kill the thistle in a short time. 

Pour Epsom salt: Epsom salt prevents the natural flow of nutrients to plants. So, sprinkle it directly at the base of the thistles and notice that it doesn’t go in contact with other plants as it can kill any plant.

  • Use regular Epsom salt from the store or online.
  • It will be harmful to magnesium requiring weeds as it can grow them well 

Use organic herbicides: For more effective results you can purchase commercial-based herbicides which are formulated to kill the weeds. Read and follow the instructions labelled on the package carefully. 

  • You can purchase it from the local store or online.
  • Make sure which is best for your lawn. 
  • Use them cautiously because it can kill other plants.

Place the livestock in the thistle field: If you have a large lawn let the livestock on it and they will snack on the thistle. All livestock prefer young thistle very much, also some of the animals eat all growing stages of the thistle.

  • Your livestock doesn’t want to eat toxic thistles like milk thistle and Italian thistle, so ensure it is edible for livestock.

Introduce beneficial insects: There are many beneficial insects which can enjoy eating thistle and let them die. So, release the beneficial insects to your lawn and monitor them.

Remove excess thatch: Lawn thatch is a layer of dead and living organic material that lies between the grass and soil. You have to remove excess thatch from your lawn as it can contain weed seeds and it prevents the normal growth of your lawn grass. And where the grass is not grown weeds take place there.

Soil aeration: Compact soil is nutrient deficient soil, it hinders the nutrient supply in your grass thus obstructs the normal growth of lawn grass. So, you must relieve soil compaction by aerating, making it easier for the grassroots to grow and establish and to get a healthy lawn with full of healthy grass.


Chemical control:

It is the most effective method to control the mature thistle, blooming size plants and large infestation from your lawn because they give you a quick result. The best time to apply the chemicals is on sunny days when the temperature fluctuations are 65 to 85 F (10-29°C).


Apply in the grass:

Selective weedkiller: Apply selective weed killer containing Clopyralid i.e. Weedol Lawn Weedkiller or Vitax Lawn Clear 2 to control the weeds well. This method is typically best for large areas and the land overgrown with thistle.

  • You need to apply the weed-killer several times.
  • You can find it in a local store gardening or online.

Selective herbicides: Apply selective herbicides based on Triclopyr i.e. Vitax SBK Brushwood killer in rough grass.

  • Mix the herbicide in a container according to the recommendations.
  • Apply it directly onto the thistle plant to kill it.
  • When you spray, wear personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • The best time of applying this herbicide is Spring and Fall when the plants are in the active growing period.

Apply in borders and unplanted areas:

Systemic weedkiller: Apply systemic weedkiller which contains glyphosate i.e. Roundup Fast Action, SBM Job done General Purpose Weedkiller or Doff Glyphosate Weedkiller or for spot treatment use Roundup Gel. You need to apply them before the flower heads show colour. This is a great option for flower beds and borders.

  • You can find this weed killer in a local gardening store or online sources.
  • When the foliage turns into yellow after a week you need to apply the weedkiller entirely on the foliage.
  • If you have seen any signs of the regeneration of weeds in the following year you need another two or three treatments.
  • Follow the principles of the packaging of weed killer carefully.
  • This weed killer can kill anything which comes in contact with it, so avoid spraying in windy weather.

Fertilize at least once in a year:

Follow the fertilization principles at least once in a year to supply the nutrients like N, P & K properly. Every time you cut the grass will lose some nutrients away from the soil and you need to back up them after a certain period. Use good quality and slow-release fertilizer at least once a year.

Final thought:

Removal of thistle is not a tough task but you need to be persistent and observe your lawn regularly. If you have seen any signs of sprouting thistles or other weeds fix it as soon as possible if you want a healthy and evergreen lawn. It is not difficult to kill and remove the thistle just you need to follow some of the basic knowledge and willingness to do it.

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