Need to know whether you have crabgrass, chamberbitter, or common lespedeza? Our weed identification guide also tells you which herbicide… If your lawn has weeds, identifying what they are will help you eliminate them. This lawn weed identification guide with photos will help you ID your weeds.
Ultimate Weed Identification Guide – With Pictures and Recommendations on How to Kill Them
Sometimes referred to as Poa annua, this annual bright green grass will pop up in your lawn in the cool months, but may not be very noticeable until early spring. This grass will grow in clumps and can be identified by its smooth leaf. The end of the leave will have a boat-like appearance. Although it can bloom in the winter, spring months are when the fuzzy white seed heads begin to appear. Moist soils are more favorable for annual bluegrass growth. In areas with extensive infestations, bare spots may be left behind after control. It is important to reestablish sod in these areas to prevent establishment of more weeds.
How to Kill Annual Bluegrass
Since annual bluegrass spreads and grows each year from seed, it is important to control before it is given an opportunity to flower. Apply atrazine (Southern Ag Atrazine Weed Killer for St Augustine Grass) is in November and then repeat in early January. This product is safe for centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass and dormant bermuda.
First up in our weed identification guide is broadleaf plantain. This broadleaf perennial weed can be identified by its oval leaves growing erect in rosette, or flower-like arrangement. In addition, flower spikes will grow outward from the rosette. These rosettes have seeds that attach unknowing passersby. Broadleaf plantain favors dry, compacted soils and will sprout from dropped seeds or regenerate from taproot.
How to Kill Broadleaf Plantain
Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity Herbicide in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.
This lawn weed is a summer annual that grows beginning in the early summer. Subsequently, by mid-summer you can easily identify it. Resembling tiny mimosa tree sprouts, other names include “little mimosa” and “gripeweed”. Chamberbitter will have multiple branches. Furthermore, small leaflets on opposite side and across from each other will line the entire branch. Additionally, small ball-like seeds will develop on the underside of the branches. In conclusion, chamberbitter an annual.
How to Kill Chamberbitter
This means it’s best to control Chamberbitter in the early summer before it has begun to seed. Use an Atrazine Weed Killer as a preemergent in centipede and st. augustine lawns. Gallery 75 DF can also be used in centipede and st. augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia.
If Chamberbitter has already sprouted, use trimec on small plants in tall fescue, bermuda and zoysia lawns. Likewise, for st. augustine and centipede, Atrazine Weed Killer can be used as a post emergent. However, after it seeds, homeowners waste time and money trying to treat it since it dies shortly after.
There are numerous species of clovers that may find their way into your lawn. These weeds will begin by seeds and then spread through seeds and rhizomes. Easily identified by their trifoliate (three leaves) low growth pattern. Leave will also likely have a light white triangle on the leaves. Flowers will grow in clusters and may be white or pink. This family of plants will grow in the spring, summer and fall, but is most noticeable when it flowers. Able to fix its own nitrogen, it can be helpful to your lawn in small amounts, but too much can result in a patchy lawn. Therefore, the best avenue is to control clover as soon as it is noticed.
How to Kill Clover in Your Lawn
In centipede grass or fescue with heavy infestations, it is best to use what the pros use. Tenacity is an excellent choice for a weed killer. Fertilome Weed Free Zone is a combination of weed killers and is safe for bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass and zoysia grass in the winter.
Chickweed is a winter annual that begins to sprout in the fall. It can easily establish in thin turf areas or dormant lawns. Chickweed will grow throughout the winter and begin seeding in the springsummer before dying. This plant can form dense mats of tiny egg-shaped leaves arranged in pairs opposite on the stem. The stem has a single line of hairs running along the leaf stem and main stem. Flowers form on the end of the stem and have five white petals.
How to Kill Chickweed
Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent. Your best bet to control of established chickweed is with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.
Common Lespedeza Weeds
This extremely common summer weed has three, oblong leaflets with smooth edges. These leaflets also have distinctive, parallel veins that connect into a midvein. If you let this weed hang around in your yard too long, the stem becomes woody. Common lespedeza has pink to purplish flowers. Common lespendeza is a legume Therefore, its seeds are produced in a bean pod.
How to Kill Common Lespedeza
Your best bet to control lespedeza is in the early spring with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.
No weed identification guide would be complete without crabgrass! Crabgrass is a summer weed that sticks out in your lawns like hives from a bad shellfish allergy. This large, wide bladed grass has smooth edges and crinkled at the base. Hairs are also common where the leaves connect. Seed heads grow throughout the summer and has six long spikes.
How to Kill Crabgrass
In fescue, zoysia and bermuda lawns we recommend controlling crabgrass after it has begun to develop with Ferti-Lome Weed Out with Crabgrass Killer RTS. In centipede lawns use Arrest for best control and Southern Ag Atrazine for fair control in St. Augustine lawns.
I’m sure you have childhood memories of blowing on the puffy seedheads of dandelions. However, now that it is growing in your lawn you feel different. This perennial is easily identifiable by its seed head and yellow flower. However, recognizing it before it blooms can give you the upper hand on control. Leaves are notched and resemble spearpoints in a rosette pattern. When the leaves or stem is broken, a milky white sap will flow. Dandelions can regenerate from their taproot every year.
How to Kill Dandelion
Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.
Florida betony is a winter perennial in the mint family. This plant’s roots, or tubers, resemble the rattles on a rattlesnake, hence another frequently used name is rattlesnake weed. These tubers are edible and can provide a nice crisp crunch to your salad. Other distinguishing characteristics include a square stem and leaves on opposite sides of the stem from each other. Pink to light purplish flowers will emerge in the spring.
How to Kill Florida Betony
The opportune growing time for Florida betony is in the spring and mid to late fall. Therefore, this is the best time to kill this weed, with fall the most effective. It is important to use a weed killer that will move throughout the plant and kill the tubers as well. For centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass and dormant bermuda, Southern Ag Atrazine Weed Killer for St Augustine Grass is recommended. Apply this product in mid to late October and then repeat in mid to late February.
Even in the dry-dog days of summer, Florida pusley grows strong. This plant is extremely drought-tolerant. When your lawn is stressed and begins turning brown, this could be the only thing still growing. This summer annual grows outwards, or prostrate, instead of upwards. If not controlled, it can form a dense blanket infestation. Leaves grow on opposite sides of a hairy stem. Small star-like flowers cluster at the end of the stems.
How to Kill Florida Pusley
Mowing frequently can prevent florida pusley from seeding, but it will not rid your yard of it. If caught early enough, Pendimethalin granules can be used as a preemergent. After established, 2,4-D in centipede and Carfentrazone (Quicksilver) in centipede, kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, st. augustine and zoysia.
Ground ivy (creeping charlie)
This perennial herb, unless killed, will sprout year after year from its extensive root system. Ground ivy will likely pop up in areas of thin turf, in damp-shady areas. A cousin to mint, this plant has square stems and leaves opposite of each other. Leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped. Leaf edges have a rounded tooth appearance. Flowers are a violet-purple color.
How to Kill Ground Ivy
Your best bet to control ground ivy is in the early spring with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.
Hairy bittercress is an annual that will germinate from seed in the fall. Favoring shady and lawns that are mowed too short, this weed will grow throughout the winter before flowering in the spring. Initial leaves of hairy bittercress will be heart-shaped and remain close to the ground during winter. Spring will encourage upward growth with pairs of kidney-shaped leaves. White flowers will form before transitioning to long, wiry seed pods. Once these seed pods rupture, they are capable of shooting seeds up to 16ft from the plant.
How to Kill Hairy Bittercress
Ferti-Lome Broadleaf Weed Control with Gallery is a great pre-emergent that is effective on a variety of broadleaf weeds, particularly hairy bittercress. Apply this granular weed killer in late winter in Tall fescue, bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede, zoysia, and bahia lawns. For already established bittercress, treat with Fertilome Weed-Out Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec in bermuda, bent, zoysia, fescue, St. Augustine, and centipede lawns.
Henbit has rounded-toothed leaves that encircle half of a square stem. Paired with another leaf on the opposite side, the leaves appear to fully wrap around the stem. With a similar appearance to ground ivy, henbit grows erect (up to 16” high) instead of staying low to the ground. Furthermore, flowers of henbit are vase-shaped and purple. Also, each flower has reddish spots on the petal tips. This annual will begin growing in the fall of areas of bare or thin turf. Henbit will continue to grow during warm periods of winter months before flowering in the spring.
How to Kill Henbit
Henbit cannot be controlled by mowing. Gallery can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent. Your best bet to control of established henbit is with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.
If you ever asked as a child “Are there any stickers?” before you walked across the grass, you were likely talking about lawn burweed. This annual has many names, stickerweed, sandspur, and spurweed. It is a pain in your feet as a child and is a pain in your @$ as an adult. Lawn burweed begins growing in the fall continues slowly growing throughout the winter. Leaves and stems are hairy and slightly resemble cross between parsley and rosemary. In the spring, burweed begins a rapid growth and develops the spiked seeds that plagued bare feet across the country.
How to Kill Lawn Burweed
Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent in the early fall. You’re wasting time and money trying to apply a post-emergent in the spring. Post-emergent burweed control in St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue, the best produce is Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec.
Resembling a grass, nutsedge (yellow and purple), often grows faster than your centipede grass. The easiest way to identify nutsedge is by pulling up a plant and looking for the tubers or nutlets. Another distinguishing characteristic of sedges is their triangle shaped stem, which differs from the hollow ones of grasses.
How to Kill Nutsedge
Since sedges aren’t grasses, standard grass weed killers will not kill it. The best weed killer for nutsedge is SedgeHammer. With a name like that, how can you go wrong? When applied according to the label, this product is safe on bermuda, centipede, tall fescue, St. Augustine and zoysia lawns.
Old World Diamond Flower
Old World Diamond Flower is a summer weed with smooth, oblong-pointed leaves that are arranged opposite of each other on the stem. The dainty, white flowers have a long stalk that connects multiple flowers to the weed stem.
How to Kill Old World Diamond Flower
This weed can be difficult to control. There are no pre-emergent option available. Products like QuickSilver with carfentrazone can be an effective post emergent weed killer when used at the appropriate time. Safe for bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede and zoysia yards, however check the label for best application times.
Deadnettle is a winter annual that you may not notice until it begins to bloom early spring. However, it’s best to identify and control it during the winter while it is actively growing. If you wait until it flowers, you run the risk of seeds falling into your yard to give problems in future years. This weed is in the mint family, therefore has square stems and leaves opposite on the stem. The leaves are triangle shaped and bunched at the top. This makes the plant appear to be top heavy. Upper leaves will also have a hint of purple coloration overlaying the base green.
Deadnettle can be controlled after it begins to grow with the weed killer Fertilome Weed Free Zone. This product is a combination of weed killers and is safe for centipede grass, bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass in the winter. In centipede grass with heavy infestations or history of deadnettle, it is best to use what the pros use. Tenacity can be applied before the deadnettle has appeared or after and will knock it out.
Purslane is summer annual that grows between May and August. If left unmanaged, this weed grows in mats along the ground. This lateral growth pattern, instead of erect, is identified as prostrate and exhibited by several nuisance lawn weeds. Purslane can be distinguished by its succulent, or thick and fleshly, leaves and stems. Leaves are light green. Likewise, stems can vary from light green to maroon on older weeds and on its underside areas. Purslane has yellow flowers with 5-petals.
How to Kill Purslane
Prevention is the key by having a dense, healthy lawn. However, if purslane develops, it can be hand-pulled or treated with a weed killer. Preemergent weed killers include Gallery 75 DF in centipede and st. augustine, tall fescue, bermuda and zoysia yards. Simazine can be used in centipede lawns. Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity Herbicide in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.
You’ve likely seen this fast growing weed growing between the cracking in the sidewalk or parts of your lawn where there isn’t much grass. Spurge has a reddish brown stem and dark green leaves that are arranged opposite of each other on the stem. The most identifiable characteristic of this plant is the potentially irritating milky white sap that seeps out of broken leaves. This annual has a tendency to grow throughout the summer. If you let this one hang in your lawn long enough, a small white flower will show up on the end of the stems.
How to Kill Spurge
You are not going to be able to mow spurge out of your lawn. Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent in the early Spring. Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.
This weed is often mistaken as a grass. However, if not treated and killed at the root, this perennial weed will plague lawns year after year. The leaves are a darker green on the top and connected directly to a slightly hairy stem. Virginia buttonweed flowers have white, star-shaped flowers with reddish-pink stripes. It is extremely hearty and cannot be mowed out of your lawn.
How to Kill Virginia Buttonweed
Virginia buttonweed is a perennial weed, meaning that it can regenerate from the roots in subsequent years. This means it will likely take multiple treatments to control. Apply Fertilome Weed Free Zone in the spring as it is beginning to grow.
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This perennial will show up year after year in your yard and is one of the hardest to control. Early identification and maintenance is key to eliminating wild violets from your lawn. Most likely found in wet, shady areas of the yard, wild violet will spread quickly through an extensive rhizome system. There are numerous species of wild violets and flower colors can range from white, blue, purple and violet. However, the leaves of this family of plants will be heart-shaped and cupped to form a funnel-like appearance.
How to Kill Wild Violets
Wild violets are best controlled in the fall. Avoid hot dry times and begin your treatments after temperatures have dropped. Unfortunately, there is no effective weed killer that will eliminate wild violet before it grows. Also, be prepared to make multiple treatments to rid your yard of this nuisance weed. In dormant bermuda grass and zoysia grass, use TZone SE. In centipede grass, use Tenacity. Don’t be shell-shocked with the price of either of these, nothing cheap is going to kill wild violets.
Lawn Weed Identification: Photos & Descriptions of Weeds
If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve had to combat weeds in your lawn. But to properly remove and eliminate weeds from your yard (and keep them from coming back), you need to know what kind of weeds they are, and how to treat them. In this article I’ll provide a guide to lawn weed identification so you can efficiently clear weeds from your lawn.
Getting to Know the Weed Categories
To identify weeds in your lawn, and address the problem so they don’t come back, you need to understand what type of weed you’re dealing with. To do this, you must first understand that there are 2 main categories that weeds fall into:
- Grass-like weeds, and
- Broadleaf weeds.
And within those two primary types of weeds, there are sub-categories:
- Annual weeds (weeds that grow from seed every year and die at the end of the growing season), and
- Perennial weeds (weeds that come back year after year).
In this article I’ll profile the most common lawn weeds within all four groups (both perennial and annual grass-like weeds, and perennial and annual broad-leaf weeds).
At the end of the article you should be equipped to identify the weeds in your lawn (and effectively treat and remove them).
Weeds: Why We Hate Them
Those pesky little plant imitators that seem to grow endlessly despite all efforts to eradicate … are back!
Weeds are often green, leafy, and sometimes they fit right in with the rest of the grass we grow in our yards.
But weeds are different than grass – they suck the nourishment out of even the best-looking lawns and gardens, and crowd out the soft, uniform grass we all strive to grow in our lawn.
Left unabated, weeds will take over your lawn, suffocate your plants, and make your lawn appear patchy, thin, and ugly.
I often find myself wishing that turf grass was as tough and resilient as lawn weeds. But I guess if it was easy to maintain a perfect lawn, everyone would do it.
Mowing too often, watering shallowly, improper fertilizing methods, and poor soil conditions, are all ways inexperienced homeowners foster the perfect habitat for various types of weeds.
So let’s get into my guide to lawn weed identification so you know what kind of a problem you have in your lawn, and how to solve it.
Why Lawn Weed Identification is Important
Luckily, not all weeds cause harm to your plants, or your turfgrass.
Clover is a good example of this … it’s a legume that actually turns air into Nitrogen and feeds the soil in your yard. But most people still want it gone from their lawns.
Yellow clover (Black Medic weed) is an annual legume that acts in a similar way.
With so many different types of weeds knowing how to identify lawn weeds and combat each species in your yard is crucial if you’re looking for a long-term fix.
Use the wrong product and you could end up killing your grass, not your weeds.
Common Types of Lawn Weeds
You’ve encountered these different plants in many ways. Whether in your lawn, on the sidewalk, or at the park, weeds have made their way in or around your life and it’s time to break things down.
Some weeds are annual, dying off after one season, and others are perennials, which will grow back every spring.
Below are two types of weeds and some common species, broken down by their seasonal patterns, life cycle,in and control methods.
Broadleaf Lawn Weeds
Broadleaf weeds can be identified by the shape of their leaves. In general, weeds in this category do not resemble grass, and they are easy to identify and locate within your lawn.
To help with lawn weed identification, I’ll highlight some of the most common annual and perennial broadleaf weeds below.
Annual Broadleaf Lawn Weeds
These are the most common types of annual broadleaf weeds you may encounter in your lawn.
Some are small with little white flowers and others don’t bear flowers. These summer annuals spread through seeds and will germinate quickly as the soil beings to warm up.
Control Methods – You can pull these weeds out by hand or with tools. When caught early on, hand pulling can be very effective, but as the infestation of carpetweed in your lawn grows it’s best to use chemical treatments to eliminate it.
When maintaining your lawn keep the grass dense and healthy. Herbicidal treatments to use for Carpetweed are; 2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba or Triclopyr. I recommend the Southern Ag herbicide (Amazon link) for Carpetweed.
Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow all safety procedures.
Common Lespedeza (Japanese Clover)
Common Lespedeza is a summer broadleaf annual weed that grows to 15-18 inches wide.
Japanese clover is very wiry and almost bush-like when present in a grouping of weeds. They grow low to the ground and will quickly crowd out and smother grass if left untreated.
Dark leaves are met with three smooth leaves and a singular pink and purple flower. These lawn weeds grow in under-fertilized, poor, soil.
Control Methods – Hand pulling and weeding tools can be utilized to catch an early onslaught of Japanese Clover in your lawn. It can be difficult to pull, so I recommend waiting until the soil is moist.
If you find Japanese clover in garden beds, 2- to 3-inches of mulch can help prevent further seed germination. Herbicides such as; Speedzone, 2,4-D, MCPP, Dimension Ultra, Dicamba, and many more, will help.
Again – I’ve had luck with Southern Ag’s herbicide for broadleaf weeds, which you can find on Amazon.
Knotweed is a summer annual broadleaf that loves to smother turf grasses and destroy lawns.
These plants grow low, long, and wide, with stems that create a carpet-like appearance. Often dark and thin, these plants can produce small yellow or white flowers at maturity.
Control Methods – Prostrate Knotweed can be mitigated by hand-weeding early before it becomes established. You must dig out its roots to ensure they’ve been dealt with, or Knotweed will keep coming back.
In garden beds, mulch will deter seed germination, and once it’s established, your best bet is to use chemical methods to eliminate Knotweed in your lawn.
2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba, Triclopyr, Roundup, Gallup, and many other herbicides you can buy locally or on Amazon will prove effective against this broadleaf lawn weed. There are natural methods of weed control you can try as well if you’re trying to stay organic.
Prostrate Spurge is a common summer annual broadleaf weed that is easy to identify. It grows low to the ground with oval-shaped leaves, making Spurge a distinct and recognizable weed.
Flowers aren’t developed on Spurge, but there’s often a red spot where a flower would be located when Spurge reaches maturity.
These weeds can be found in lawns, sidewalks, and cracks of cement blocks.
Control Methods – Prostrate Spurges, like many other broadleaf plants can be taken out by hand. This is a time-consuming approach, but you avoid the risks that come with spraying herbicides, and it’s what I recommend for small groupings of Prostrate Spurge.
The thick stems make it easy to grab and pull out, as long as the soil is moist.
Herbicides are a great solution to eliminate advanced weed growth and substantial infestations of Spurge in your lawn.
Ferti-Lome Weed-Out (Amazon link) is what I recommend, but Dismiss Turf, MCPP, and other herbicides are also effective against Spurge.
A summer annual broadleaf, Purslane grows well with other abundantly growing weeds, plants, and thrives in compacted soils.
Purslane weeds branch outward, as far as 3 feet out from the root.
Leaves are blue-green with no flower. The stem is thin, red(maroon), and visibly protruding. Purslane weeds grow by seed and can produce little yellow flowers at maturity.
Control Methods – Pulling purslane is a pretty easy way to remove individual plants. The process is similar to Prostrate Spurge, as the stem allows for a good grip. Pull this weed when the soil is moist for best results.
If you have a lot of Purslane in your lawn, you may decide to treat it with herbicides. Use Roundup, Montery LG 5600, Hi-Yield Ferti-Lome, MCPP, or Dicamba. Most broad-leaf herbicides will be effective, and many won’t impact the health of your lawn grasses.
The Southern Ag broadleaf weed killer (Amazon link) is my choice. It works really well on all broadleaf weeds. Just be sure to follow all safety recommendations when applying it to your lawn to kill Purslane.
Perennial Broadleaf Lawn Weeds
These perennial varieties need to be controlled aggressively, or they can take over your lawn, as they come back year after year.
A short stalk with broad leaves and five veins at the base makes it easy to identify Broadleaf Plantain in your lawn.
The flower shoots erectly and appears almost prickly but the flowers are soft.
Broadleaf Plantain looks almost like a badly unfolded cabbage, with dark leaves that are thick and leathery, and a tower head.
Low fertilizer application and compacted soils will foster a great environment for plantain weeds, so fertilizing your lawn and aerating your turf are effective at discouraging its growth in your yard.
Control Methods – Manual removal (pulling) of Broadleaf Plantain is more difficult than annual broadleaf weeds. The root goes deeper, and the leaves grow near to the ground which makes it more challenging to pull the root.
You can use tools like the Fiskar’s Stand Up Weeder to uproot these weeds – they work well if you only have a few instances of weeds in your lawn and don’t mind keeping on top of them manually once a week.
Chemically, you can use herbicides such as Roundup, Hi-Yield Ferti-Lome, Broadleaf Weed Killer, 2,4-D, MCPP, and others.
I generally encourage homeowners to take a manual approach for low instances of weeds, and use herbicides to spot treat large weed infestations.
Summer perennials weeds like Buttercup masquerade as decorative plants. I know my daughter loves to pick them, and she also loves to pick dandelions, so when she was very young I accepted their presence in my lawn for a while.
But identifying these lawn weeds is easy. Flowers bear 5-7 petals and hang on to individual stems that rise vertically.
Buttercups are not quite as invasive as lawn ivy (purple or white flowers instead of yellow), but spread in much the same manner, and detract from the uniform green lawn most homeowners hope to achieve in their yard.
Control Methods – Because it’s a perennial weed, you must get buttercup roots out of your lawn. The bulb-like root can make it a little difficult to manually uproot so do your best to take care and pull these weeds only when the soil is moist.
Chemically, you can use almost any broadleaf weed killer to treat buttercups or lawn ivy. 2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba, Scotts Ortho Weed-B-Gon (Amazon link), and many other herbicidal treatments for broadleaf plants will be effective.
Probably one of the more common lawn weeds that we’re all familiar with is the Dandelion.
Sometimes these weeds are left alone due to their alluring appearance (I mentioned how my daughter loves to pick them). But they spread like wildfire.
The flower is yellow and they mask themselves as miniature sunflowers, which are popular with pollinators.
Perennial dandelions return every year and can spread rapidly by wind, releasing up to 15,000 seeds per plant.
Control Methods – You can uproot dandelions by hand while the soil is still moist. Tap-rooted plants, such as dandelions, allow for easier pulling (on young plants), but it can be challenging to get the whole taproot from an established Dandelion plant.
Try to mow your lawn at the proper height, and don’t mow your lawn too short, as this favors further weed growth.
Many homeowners who don’t wish to deal with Dandelions apply chemical treatments. A good pre-emergent herbicide application in the spring can keep Dandelions from germinating early and give your lawn a head start to crowd out weeds, and post-emergent herbicide treatments are effective at killing established Dandelions in your yard.
Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4 (Amazon link) is a good choice to suppress dandelions, and any of the broadleaf herbicides mentioned earlier in this article will also be effective against Dandelions.
Grassy Lawn Weeds
Annual Grass-Like Lawn Weeds
While Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most popular types of turfgrass in the US, stringy summer annual bluegrass is considered a weed.
Annual Bluegrass can grow up to 2 ft tall and its leaves make it difficult to differentiate between it and other turf grass types.
The problem with annual grasses is they are very aggressive, and will crowd out your perennial lawn grass. Over time, this will create a thin, patchy lawn that will host countless other weeds.
Control Methods – Hand pulling bluegrass is difficult, although effective, and should be done with gloves.
To prevent further growth, make sure the lawn is cut at about 3-4 inches to prevent seed-heads from forming, and over-seed any empty spots in the grass with a good perennial turfgrass.
Chemical treatments can kill annual bluegrass as well. You can use; Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, or Treflan.
My recommendation is to control annual bluegrass seasonally by applying a good pre-emergent in the spring. This allows your lawn grasses to crowd out and smother annual bluegrass seedlings by delaying their germination every year. I like the organic pre-emergent offered by Jonathan Green (Amazon link). It’s effective, and safe for kids, pets, and beneficial insects.
Apart from Dandelions, there is perhaps no other lawn weed quite as notorious as crabgrass.
This stringy summer annual grass with narrow leaves that protrude from a flat fringy base is easy to spot due to its light color relative to most turf grasses.
These weeds can produce up to 150,000 seeds per plant in a single season. While it is an annual lawn weed, identification and eradication is important. If left untreated it will take over and smother your lawn in a few years.
Control Methods – Hand pulling crabgrass is difficult, as it is with most grassy lawn weeds.
Chemically, you can use; Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan.
The market is saturated with crabgrass preventer products since it is such a common problem in lawns.
In my lawn, the areas where I struggle with crabgrass every year are near the road, where the blow scrapes the turf bare every winter.
I over-seed those sections of my lawn each spring, and use Scott’s starter fertilizer and crabgrass preventer. This allows me to grow a nice thick lawn there every season while blocking the crabgrass. A lot of pre-emergent products will block grass seed from germinating. This one doesn’t, and it’s one product I swear by.
Goose Grass is a stringy summer annual that can grow up to 2 ft. tall. With this growth potential you wouldn’t think that it would spread outward from the base like Crabgrass, but it does.
This growth habit makes it damaging to lawns as it will quickly crowd out desirable turf grasses in your yard.
Control Methods – Like the other annual grassy weeds, Goosegrass is difficult to pull by hand.
It responds to most crabgrass preventers, and pre-emergent treeatment of your lawn in the spring is the best way to get Goosegrass under control on your property.
Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan all work well.
Perennial Grassy Lawn Weeds
While annual grassy weeds get most of the attention from homeowners, perennial grass-like weeds can cause big issues over time.
Here is how to identify 3 common perennial grass-like weeds.
Lawn weed identification of Dallisgrass is pretty easy as its growth habit is unique.
Dallisgrass is a perennial grass that grows in clumps which quickly spread across a lawn if untreated.
Leaves are yellowy-green in color and less than half an inch in width. They can grow from 1 inch to 3 inches.
Dallisgrass can easily blend in with real grass if you have a poor quality lawn, but it has a faster growth habit, and will noticeably protrude above your lawn in the days after mowing while the rest of your lawn is still shorter.
Some people confuse Dallisgrass and Crabgrass, but the width of this plant and its growth habit is different (the base of Dallisgrass is typically wider).
Control Methods – Dallisgrass can adapt to areas with improper drainage systems very well, so you’ll often find it in wet areas of your lawn. It’s tough to pull Dallisgrass by hand to remove it, so this can be a good punishment for kids who have misbehaved (cheap labor!).
Most crabgrass preventer pre-emergent treatments are effective against this perennial, but post-emergent herbicides might be necessary if your lawn isn’t thick enough to crowd it out.
Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan will all work well.
If you have Nimblewill in your lawn, it will be easy to identify. It’s different than Crabgrass and most other grass-like weeds, but it also will stand out from your standard turf-grasses.
Stringy, and often clumpy, Nimblewill develops a littler slower in color, making it noticeably visible in grassy pastures and lawns.
Nimblewill prefers to grow in shade. This means it will often be the first grass to go brown in hot sun or heat. This is a helpful lawn weed identification trick for this grassy perennial intruder.
Control Methods – Healthy grass can deter grassy weeds from germinating and spreading, but when weeds are present you can always do the natural labor of pulling it by hand. That said, if Nimblewill roots are left, the weed will grow back.
Chemically, you can use most crabgrass preventers to control Nimblewill; Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer, Pylex Herbicide, Selective Weed Killers, and Treflan.
You may have Quackgrass in your lawn. This is a stringy perennial grassy weed that can grow up to 3 feet tall.
The leaves of Quackgrass are blue-green in color and thin with a rough texture. It resembles a lot of ornamental grasses you can buy at the garden center.
Control Methods – Poor lawn maintenance is a haven for grassy weeds, and applying a crabgrass preventer early in the spring is the best way to keep grassy weeds under control in your lawn.
Lawn Weed Identification is the First Step
Most of these weeds, whether broadleaf or grassy, can be controlled the same way across their specific types.
After your lawn weed identification questions have been answered, it’s time to get after them and use the proper treatment to remove them from your lawn.
Act quickly, so you don’t allow these weeds (especially perennial weeds) to gain a foothold in your turf.
Remember – whenever you’re using herbicides, read the product details before use and wear protective equipment to keep yourself safe.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your kids, garden plants, and animals, and pay attention to the weather so your weed treatment is effective the first time.