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17 Lawn and Garden Weeds: How to Identify and Control Them

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Weeds can be a persistent challenge for gardeners, often competing with desirable plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Understanding how to identify and control common garden weeds is essential for maintaining a healthy and attractive garden. Here is a description of 17 common lawn and garden weeds, along with tips on how to identify and control them.

1) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

  • Identification: Dandelions are recognized by their bright yellow flowers, which turn into white, fluffy seed heads. The leaves are deeply notched and form a rosette at the base.
  • Control: Dandelions have deep taproots that make them difficult to remove completely. Hand-digging can be effective for small patches, but make sure to remove the entire root. For larger infestations, selective herbicides for broadleaf weeds may be necessary. Maintaining a healthy lawn through proper fertilization and mowing can also help prevent dandelions from establishing.

2) Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.)

  • Identification: Crabgrass is a low-growing annual grass with wide, light-green leaves. It often forms dense mats and appears in sunny, disturbed areas, such as along sidewalks and driveways.
  • Control: Apply pre-emergent herbicides in early spring before the seeds germinate. Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn by mowing at the appropriate height and providing adequate water and nutrients can also help suppress crabgrass.

3) Clover (Trifolium spp.)

  • Identification: Clover is a perennial weed with three-part leaves (trifoliate) and small white or pink flowers. It thrives in nutrient-poor soils and can quickly spread across lawns.
  • Control: While clover can be beneficial for soil health and pollinators, you can remove it by hand-pulling small clumps or mowing high (3 inches or more) to reduce its spread.

4) Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)

  • Identification: Also known as ground ivy, Creeping Charlie has rounded, scalloped leaves and small, blue-violet flowers. It spreads through creeping stems that root at the nodes.
  • Control: Increase sunlight in shady areas by pruning trees and shrubs. Dig out the entire plant, including roots, for small patches. For larger infestations, use a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide.

5) Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

  • Identification: Purslane is a succulent weed with fleshy, reddish stems and small, glossy green leaves. It produces tiny yellow flowers and forms dense, low-growing mats.
  • Control: Hand-pulling is effective, but ensure you remove all parts of the plant to prevent regrowth. Maintain a dense turf and fill bare spots with grass seed. Mulching garden beds can also help suppress purslane.

6) Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

  • Identification: This vining weed has arrowhead-shaped leaves and white to pink funnel-shaped flowers. It spreads via seeds and extensive underground rhizomes.
  • Control: Field bindweed is challenging to control due to its deep root system. Persistent removal of above-ground growth and the use of systemic herbicides can help manage this weed. Regular monitoring and removal are necessary to prevent it from taking over garden beds and lawns.

7) Oxalis (Oxalis spp.)

  • Identification: Oxalis, also known as wood sorrel, features clover-like leaves and small yellow or pink flowers. It can quickly establish itself in lawns and garden beds.
  • Control: Hand-pull oxalis before it flowers to prevent seed production. Apply a light layer of mulch around plants to inhibit seed germination. Spot-treat with broadleaf herbicides if necessary.

8) Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense)

  • Identification: Johnsongrass is a tall, warm-season perennial grass with coarse, broad leaves and thick rhizomes. It produces large, open seed heads.
  • Control: Hand-pulling small patches can be effective, but larger infestations require repeated herbicide applications. Maintaining a dense, healthy lawn through regular mowing and proper fertilization can help prevent Johnsongrass from establishing.

9) Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)

  • Identification: This summer annual grass grows tall, with bristly seed heads that turn brown at maturity. The leaves are long and upright.
  • Control: Mow before seed production to prevent the spread of Green Foxtail. Use post-emergent herbicides to control existing plants, and combine both methods for best results.

10) Wild Violet (Viola spp.)

  • Identification: Wild Violet has heart-shaped leaves and produces purple or blue flowers. It spreads via rhizomes and can form dense colonies in lawns.
  • Control: Hand-pull wild violets, ensuring complete removal of rhizomes. For larger areas, apply herbicides specifically designed for wild violets. Regularly maintain your lawn to prevent re-establishment.

11) Paspalum (Paspalum spp.)

  • Identification: Paspalum is a grassy weed with seed heads that feature distinctive spikelets. It can be annual or perennial.
  • Control: Regular mowing and hand-weeding are effective. For persistent outbreaks, use herbicides labeled for grassy weeds.

12) Couch Grass (Cynodon dactylon)

  • Identification: Also known as Bermuda grass, Couch Grass is a dense, low-growing grass with a tenacious underground root system.
  • Control: Use landscape fabric or thick mulch to block sunlight and weaken the grass. Multiple applications of glyphosate-based herbicides may be necessary for complete control.

13) Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris)

  • Identification: Caltrop, also known as bindii, produces sharp, spiky burrs that can be painful when stepped on.
  • Control: Hand-pull small infestations, ensuring complete removal of the roots. For larger areas, apply herbicides to prevent seed germination.

14) Flaxleaf Fleabane (Conyza spp.)

  • Identification: Flaxleaf Fleabane has small daisy-like flowers and can colonize disturbed areas quickly.
  • Control: Regular mowing and removal of flower heads before seed production can help manage this weed. Use broadleaf herbicides for larger infestations.

15) Thistles (Cirsium spp.)

  • Identification: Thistles have spiky leaves and stems, with purple or white flower heads. They can be annual or biennial.
  • Control: Hand-pull or cut off flower heads before they seed. Apply herbicides labeled for thistle control, as multiple applications may be necessary.

16) Mallow (Malva spp.)

  • Identification: Mallows are broadleaf weeds with lobed leaves and small pink or purple flowers.
  • Control: Hand-pull young plants or use herbicides for broadleaf weeds on larger infestations.

17) Dwarf Nettle (Urtica urens)

  • Identification: This stinging weed has small leaves that cause skin irritation upon contact.
  • Control: Wear gloves and protective clothing to hand-pull or carefully cut Dwarf Nettle. Herbicides are less effective, so manual removal is recommended.
By understanding how to identify and control these common weeds, you can keep your lawn and garden healthy and free from unwanted plants. Regular maintenance and early intervention are crucial in managing weed problems effectively. If you’d like to explore more about what questions you should ask before hiring weed control services, then read our blog 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Weed Control Services and if you want to learn more about weed removal, then read our blog 4 Steps for Getting Rid of Weeds.


Managing weeds in your lawn and garden requires a combination of proper identification and effective control strategies. By understanding the specific characteristics and growth habits of common weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass, clover, and more, you can implement targeted control methods. Whether it involves hand-pulling, applying herbicides, or maintaining a healthy lawn through regular mowing and fertilization, each approach contributes to reducing weed infestations. Regular monitoring and early intervention are crucial in keeping your outdoor spaces weed-free and maintaining the overall health and appearance of your lawn and garden. With diligence and the right techniques, you can successfully manage and prevent weeds from overtaking your green spaces. For more detailed information and tailored advice, visit our page on weed pulling services. For support on your next weeding project, please feel free to reach out through our contact form, and our team will be happy to help.