Need to know whether you have crabgrass, chamberbitter, or common lespedeza? Our weed identification guide also tells you which herbicide… Maintaining a healthy lawn starts with proper nutrition, but it also requires careful weed control. Learn to identify your weeds and use proper weed control. Prickly lawn weeds are the worst. They don’t just ruin the aesthetic of your lawn - they’re darn painful to step on! I talk about the most common culprits here.
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.
Weed Identification Guide | Which Weeds Have Infiltrated Your Lawn?
Maintaining a healthy lawn starts with proper nutrition, but it also requires careful weed control. Sure, you can buy a generic weed killer and throw it on your yard with some success. If you want to increase your success at killing every weed in your lawn, being able to identify them and using the proper weed control formulas is critical.
Our weed identification guide will give you a leg up in eradicating those nutrient-draining eyesores for good and getting the lush lawn you crave.
Wild violet is a perennial weed that is relatively easy to identify thanks to the bright violet or blue flower it produces and its heart-shaped leaves. It is a low-growing weed that is generally less than a foot off the ground.
Where Wild Violet Thrives
Wild violet grows the strongest in moist, shady areas and spots where grass coverage is thin. Though it prefers moist soil, wild violet can survive drought once it’s established.
How to Control Wild Violet
The best way to control wild violet is by creating a thick, healthy lawn. As mentioned above, wild violet prefers areas with minimal grass coverage, and a thick carpet will present a challenge to fledgling sprouts. Pre-emergent weed treatments are not effective on wild violet.
If your lawn has existing wild violet weeds in it, you can remove them through manual pulling. Simply moisten the soil and pull upward sharply until the weed and its root release from the soil.
If you prefer to go the chemical route to rid your yard of wild violet, you can use a post-emergent herbicide containing 2,4-D; MCPP; dicamba; or triclopyr.
Wild Onion and Garlic
Wild onion and garlic are perennial weeds with a grasslike appearance, making them harder to spot. But you can identify them by their distinct upright stance and small, white flowers in more mature weeds. They are also easy to identify by their strong onion and garlic odor.
While they have the same basic characteristics, you can identify distinguish wild garlic by its cylindrical and hollow leaves. Wild onion’s leaves are flat and not hollow.
Where Wild Onion and Garlic Thrives
Wild onion and garlic are hardy weeds that can grow in a wide range of soil types and conditions. They can also survive cold and drought, making them a particularly frustrating weed.
How to Control Wild Onion and Garlic
Unfortunately, pre-emergent herbicides don’t affect wild onion and garlic. A thick lawn is the best preventative measure, but it doesn’t guarantee you won’t have a few patches crop up.
Manual removal is possible, but do not attempt to pull wild onion or garlic by hand. The bulb at the base of the plant will break off when you try to pull it by hand, and it will grow back quickly. Instead, use a small shovel or spade to dig up the bulbs, which are generally at least 6 inches deep.
You can also take the chemical approach by using post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba; metsulfuron; sulfentrazone and metsulfuron; sulfosulfuron; or glyphosate.
Dandelions are some of the most common perennial weeds in the U.S. They crop up in the spring and seem to spread like… well… wildflowers. They are relatively easy to identify with their 1- to 2-inch-wide bright-yellow flower, semi-hard 6- to 24-inch stem and toothed leaves.
Unlike many lookalike weeds, dandelions only have one stem and one flower per plant – if it has multiple offshoots, it isn’t a dandelion.
Where Dandelions Thrives
Dandelions are a hardy weed that grow in various conditions, but they thrive in moist, sunny areas.
How to Control Dandelions
To prevent dandelions before they ever grow, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the late winter. Applying it then prevents the seed from germinating. If you apply it any later, the dandelion will still break the surface and take over your yard.
If you already have a dandelion problem, you can use a selective post-emergent broadleaf herbicide to kill each plant individually.
Prefer to go the chemical-free route? You can also remove dandelions by hand using a dandelion removal tool or by simply digging up the taproot. Dandelion taproots are very long, so make certain you get it all. Leaving just one piece of the root intact can lead to even more dandelions.
Garlic mustard is a biennial weed that generally grows 2-3 feet tall but can reach 6 feet in some cases. You can identify garlic mustard by its kidney-shaped hairless leaves with scalloped edges, its S- or L-shaped root, four-petal white flowers in the spring and distinct garlic smell.
Where Garlic Mustard Thrives
Garlic mustard prefers disturbed soil with plenty of shade but will sometimes invade areas of full sun.
How to Control Garlic Mustard
There is no known pre-emergent weed control for garlic mustard, but it is otherwise relatively easy to control manually or chemically.
You can manually remove garlic mustard by gripping it firmly at the base and pulling upward sharply until the plant and root are free of the soil. Because its seeds spread easily, immediately put the pulled weed in a bag or trash container.
If you prefer the chemical route, you can apply a post-emergent herbicide containing glyphosate; triclopyr; 2,4-D; metsulfuron or oryzalin. Use care around other grasses, as some post-emergent herbicides can kill it.
There are many varieties of thistle, but one of the more common types that invade our lawns is Canada thistle. You can identify this 3- to 5-foot-tall perennial weed by its deep-lobed lower leaves, more toothed upper leaves and lavender, pink or white flowers.
Where Canada Thistle Thrives
Canada thistle prefers wetter, disturbed grounds like ditch banks, pastures and tilled fields, but is no stranger to backyards.
How to Control Canada Thistle
Canada thistle is an invasive species that can create havoc in your yard, so it’s key to eradicate it as soon as you identify it.
There is no known pre-emergent herbicide for this weed, and the control process requires several seasons’ worth of treatment. In the late spring, you must apply one treatment of glyphosate and one treatment of dicamba and 2,4-D. In the fall, you will make five treatments, including one of each of the following herbicides:
- Aminopyralid and 2,4-D
Do not attempt to pull Canada thistle, as this can cause a split root, which can sprout two new plants.
The broad-leaved dock is a tall perennial weed that grows up to 3 feet tall from a rosette base. You can identify it by its long, broad leaves with pointed tips and wavy edges. The leaves near the base of the weed are significantly larger than those near the top and generally grow in an alternating pattern up the stalk.
As you near the top of the plant, the broad-leaved dock features a series of seed pods that are about a tenth of an inch long and light brown.
Where Broad-Leaved Dock Thrives
Broad-leaved dock can thrive in many types of soils, but it’s best suited for disturbed soil that’s been neglected, including drainage areas and pastures. They are also no strangers to backyards with low-lying wet areas.
How to Control Broad-Leaved Dock
There are two options when looking to control broad-leaved dock: manual removal or herbicidal.
When removing broad-leaved dock manually, don’t simply pull it, as its long taproot will likely beak off in the ground and result in a new plant growing in its place. Instead, use a spade or other sharp-tipped shovel to dig up as much of the root as you can. At the very least, you want to cut off the root at least 2 inches below the surface of the soil.
Herbicidally, you have two options. You can use a chemical weed killer that contains glyphosate or clopyralid, or you can go the organic route with insecticidal soap. The organic route works on younger plants by drying out the leaves and killing the plant before it can establish a root system.
Bindweed, a perennial weed with creeping stems that grow on the ground and through other plants, is easily identified by its bell- or funnel-shaped flower that’s about an inch in diameter and white or pinkish colored. It also features alternating, arrowhead-shaped leaves on its stem.
Where Bindweed Thrives
Bindweed is a hardy plant found in many conditions, including farmland, fields and residential yards. Pretty much anywhere there is sufficient soil, water, sun exposure and other plants for it to climb, bindweed will grow.
How to Control Bindweed
You can kill bindweed seeds before they germinate using a pre-emergent weed control containing dithiopyr, pendimethalin or prodiamine. Another great way to keep bindweed from growing altogether it a thick lawn, as it does not compete well in shady areas.
If you already have a bindweed issue, selective post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D; dicamba; and quinclorac will do the trick without killing your lawn.
Pulling bindweed is generally ineffective, as its root system can stretch up to 20 feet deep, so it will almost certainly return.
The broadleaf plantain is a perennial weed that features oval- or egg-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette. When you break a leaf off at its stem, there are long fibers, much like in a celery stalk. From the base of the rosette, long, pointed, green flowers grow upward and contain small seed pods. This weed can grow to about 5 inches tall.
Where Broadleaf Plantain Thrives
Broadleaf plantain weeds prefer areas where other plants don’t grow, including areas where the soil is compact and soggy. If the conditions are right, though, it can also crop up in your landscaping and lawn.
How to Control Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf plantain is challenging to control, but not impossible. The best bet is creating a thick and healthy lawn that drowns out seedings. You can also prevent the seeds from germinating by applying a pre-emergent herbicide containing atrazine, indaziflam, isoxaben or mesotrione.
You may still see a few new seedlings crop up. When you see them, immediately pull them to keep them from maturing and spreading seeds.
To eliminate established broadleaf plantain, you want to dig up the weed, but you may need to do this several years in a row before the weed is eradicated.
Post-emergent herbicides containing bromoxynil, carfentrazone, dicamba, mesotrione, penoxsulam or sulfentrazone have proven effective on broadleaf plantain weeds.
Nutsedge is a perennial weed that can be difficult to identify due to its grasslike appearance. Nutsedge is it is generally taller than the rest of the grass, even just a few days after mowing. It also has a triangular stem and, when allowed to grow, will develop flowers that are generally yellow or dark red (nearly purple).
Where Nutsedge Thrives
Nutsedge thrives in moist soil, but it has shown the ability to grow in virtually any type of soil – established nutsedge plants can even thrive in overly dry areas. You can find nutsedge virtually anywhere grass grows.
How to Control Nutsedge
Nutsedge is particularly difficult to control, but it’s far from impossible. Mechanical removal is possible, but not through simple pulling. Instead, you must dig 8-10 inches around a nutsedge cluster and at least 10 inches deep to get all the roots.
Because nutsedge grows from more than just seeds, pre-emergent herbicides are largely ineffective. You can, however, use a post-emergent herbicide containing halosulfuron or sulfentrazone to kill existing growth. These products are generally labeled for use on nutsedge.
Chickweed is a low-lying annual weed that intertwines with other plants. You can easily identify chickweed by its small, white five-petal flowers and oval-shaped leaves with pointed tips and light hair. While chickweed may seem endless, each plant is only 6 to 10 inches long.
Where Chickweed Thrives
Chickweed is especially frustrating because it can grow virtually anywhere, though it prefers cooler, moisture-rich areas.
How to Control Chickweed
Chickweed control is not overly difficult, but experts strongly recommend attempting manual control first by simply pulling it out of the ground. The only time you must resort to chemical control is when you’re dealing with a large area.
If you must switch to chemical control, you can use any product containing dicamba. You can also perform spot treatment with products containing diquat, glufosinate, glyphosate or triclopyr, but spray carefully, as these can kill surrounding grass and plants.
To prevent chickweed from ever cropping up, you can apply a pre-emergent in the late fall or early winter. Pre-emergent weed controls that’ll work on turf contain benefin, dithiopyr, oryzalin, pendimethalin or prodiamine.
Yellow Wood Sorrel
Commonly mistaken for a shamrock, the yellow wood sorrel’s key features include heart-shaped compound leaves that are no more than 1 inch across, a delicate stem and yellow flowers with five petals. It’s generally about 6 inches tall.
Where Yellow Wood Sorrel Thrives
Yellow sorrel is a perennial weed that grows across the U.S. but thrives in the most fertile of soil. That said, it can grow in nearly any conditions, but unfavorable soils will result in a smaller, weaker plant.
How to Control Yellow Wood Sorrel
As with many low-growing weeds, a healthy lawn is the first step in preventing yellow wood sorrel. You can also apply a pre-emergent herbicide containing benefin, oryzaline, pendimethalin, dithiopyr, isoxaben or prodiamine to kill off the seeds before they germinate.
If you have existing issues, you can pull or dig the weed out as soon as you see it. Make sure to get as much of the root as possible so it doesn’t return.
Alternatively, you can go the post-emergent chemical route using products containing atrazine; 2, 4-D, dicamba and mecoprop; sulfentrazone and quinclorac; triclopyr; or MCPA, dicamba and triclopyr.
Lambsquarters is an annual weed that can grow up to 5 feet tall. You can identify it by its 2-inch-long dull- or pale-gray leaves that are triangular-, egg- or lance-shaped. The leaves are also often covered in a powdery substance, especially on the newest growth.
Where Lambsquarters Thrives
Lambsquarters thrives in low, wet areas and prefers disturbed areas like a large field where animals frequently graze or play.
How to Control Lambsquarters
You can prevent lambsquarters through a healthy lawn that is too thick for its seedlings to survive or with pre-emergent weed control containing trifluralin.
Lambsquarters is simple enough to remove by pulling, but make sure to do so before it produces seeds, as you risk spreading the seeds if you pull a mature plant.
If you go the chemical route, any post-emergent herbicide containing glyphosate will do the trick.
Pigweed is an annual weed you can easily identify by its stem, which is erect and can be from 4 inches to 7 feet tall, though they usually fall in the 1.6- to 3-foot range. The lower part of the stem is generally a reddish color with a thick and smooth texture, while the top section is rough and features short hairs.
The diamond- to oval-shaped leaves run up the stem in an alternating fashion and are generally a dull green to a shiny red-green hue. These leaves usually have pointed tips and smooth margins.
Where Pigweed Thrives
Pigweed generally finds its home in a garden bed or a large field that doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic.
How to Control Pigweed
There is no notable pre-emergent herbicide to manage pigweed before it breaks the soil’s surface. If you catch it in its early phases, you can easily pull it from the ground to prevent its spread.
Killing established pigweed is a little trickier, especially those over 4 inches tall. The best herbicide for the job is nonselective glyphosate. It may take several attempts to kill the weed entirely, but it will eventually wither and die.
Crabgrass is a frustrating weed because it’s so easily confused with your existing turf, but there are a few key ways to identify it.
First, new crabgrass sprouts are a lighter green than your turf and eventually darken as they age. Crabgrass also grows in clusters low to the ground, and the blades are broader than your regular grass. Finally, crabgrass stems horizontally instead of upward.
Where Crabgrass Thrives
Crabgrass is a prolific weed in the U.S., growing in virtually any soil type. That said, it thrives in thinning lawns and bare spots, as it requires as much sun as possible to survive.
How to Control Crabgrass
Initial crabgrass control starts with a thick lawn cut at the proper height, as this weed thrives in sunlight and doesn’t compete well in shady areas.
If your lawn isn’t up to the task of preventing its growth, you can also apply a pre-emergent herbicide containing bensulide, oryzalin, pendimethalin or trifluralin.
If you have existing crabgrass, you can use several post-emergent herbicides, including those containing quinclorac, fluazifop or sethoxydim plus oil. Please note, the latter two are not recommended for lawns – only spot treatment on sidewalks, driveways, landscaping beds, etc.
Quackgrass is easily confused with ryegrass, but there are a few distinguishing characteristics, including rhizomes (horizontally growing underground stems) and clasping auricles (ear-like attachments). Other key features of quackgrass include rolled vernation, a membranous ligule, hairy lower sheaths and smooth upper sheaths, hollow stems, and broad blue-green leaves.
Where Quackgrass Thrives
Quackgrass thrives in many types of soil, but it prefers moist, disturbed sites. It is a hardy weed that can survive in acidic or alkaline soil.
How to Control Quackgrass
Increasing the vigor of your lawn is the No. 1 way to prevent quackgrass, as it does not compete well in lush lawns with plenty of soil-level shade.
Attempting to pull quackgrass is usually unsuccessful, as its underground root system can be 6-8 feet underground.
Adding to the frustration of quackgrass is its immunity to selective herbicides. The only recommended herbicide to control it is glyphosate, which is a nonselective herbicide that will kill the quackgrass and the surrounding grass.
Fortunately, you can regrow grass in the area knowing the quackgrass is eradicated.
Purslane is a low-growing creeping weed that is a perennial in the warmer regions and annual in areas that experience cold winters. It’s identifiable by its thick red or green stem with a reddish tint and jade-colored oval leaves.
Where Purslane Thrives
Purslane is a hardy weed that can grow in virtually any soil but frequently crops up in the cracks of a sidewalk or driveway or in your yard.
How to Control Purslane
Purslane is not overly difficult to control, especially if you’re dealing with just one plant, as you can simply pull it out. Keep in mind, you must get the entire root system, or it will return.
Chemical control is generally not necessary, but you can prevent purslane with a pre-emergent herbicide containing dithiopyr, pendimethalin, or combinations of benefin and trifluralin or benefin and oryzalin.
If you’ve already got an outbreak of purslane, you can go with a post-emergent herbicide containing Dicamba, MCPP, MSMA or 2,4-D.
Shepherd’s purse can be an annual or biennial weed, depending on the area. This weed begins life as a basal rosette with deeply toothed alternating leaves that are 1.5-4.75 inches long and 0.4-1.2 inches wide. As it matures, long stems with white or green flowers grow from the rosette and produce triangular- or heart-shaped fruits.
Where Shepherd’s Purse Thrives
Shepherd’s purse grows across the U.S. and in many types of conditions. It thrives in gardens, fields and yards.
How to Control Shepherd’s Purse
Shepherd’s purse is relatively simple to control through manual pulling.
If you prefer to chemically eradicate it, you can also use a post-emergent weed control containing bentazon, diquat dibromide, flumioxazin, glufosinate-ammonium or glyphosate.
To prevent shepherd’s purse from returning, use a pre-emergent weed control containing dithiopyr; flumioxazin; oryzalin; oxadiazon; oxyfluorfen and oryzalin; oxyfluorfen and pendimethalin, pendimethalin or prodiamine.
Creeping Charlie is a perennial ground ivy that can be quite difficult to control, especially in established lawns.
Creeping Charlie is a low-growing weed that creates almost a mat-like cover over the soil. Its long stems grow horizontally and sprout kidney-shaped leaves that are shiny green with scalloped edges.
Other key identifiers of creeping Charlie are its purple or blue five-petal flowers that are less than a half-inch long.
Where Creeping Charlie Thrives
Creeping Charlie weeds prefer moist, fertile soil and thrive in shady areas, which is why they are so difficult to control. They are also known to survive in sunny areas, making them even more common.
How to Control Creeping Charlie
The first step to preventing creeping Charlie is to grow a thick lawn. Yes, it thrives in the shade but will struggle to compete with lush grass coverage.
If you have an outbreak of creeping Charlie and are struggling to control it, the best option is a post-emergent herbicide containing triclopyr.
Unfortunately, there is no noted pre-emergent herbicide to prevent creeping Charlie, so you must spot-treat any weeds that crop up.
Velvetleaf is a summer annual weed that grows 2-7 feet tall and features alternating leaves on its stem that are up to 8 inches long. It also features hairy, heart-shaped leaves with prominent veins and orangish-yellow five-petal flowers that are less than an inch in diameter.
Where Velvetleaf Thrives
Velvetleaf prefers disturbed areas, like roadsides, but it is not uncommon to also see them in larger fields and gardens.
How to Control Velvetleaf
The best method for handling existing velvetleaf weeds is to pull them manually. Because you don’t want to leave any roots behind, pull it when the soil is moist or dig the weed out.
If you prefer to use a chemical weed control, you can choose any product containing 2,4-D; dicamba; atrazine; or mesotrione.
Once you have the current growth under control, you can prevent future growth by applying a pre-emergency herbicide containing atrazine. Take note, there have been reports of atrazine-resistant velvetleaf plants, so you may still see some plants emerge.
White clover is a perennial weed that grows to 4-10 inches at full maturity. You can identify it by its rounded leaves with white bands and their rounded white flower heads that are less than an inch wide and contain 40-100 florets.
Where White Clover Thrives
White clover is best suited for cool, moist areas and thrives in clay and silt soils. It can, however, survive in sandy soils if the water table is high enough.
How to Control White Clover
The best way to prevent white clover growth is by having a healthy, thick lawn that drowns out the weed. If your lawn can’t hold off a white clover invasion, the second-best option is hand-pulling the weed.
If you choose to go the chemical route, you can use glyphosate, but the issue is this nonselective herbicide may kill the surrounding grass.
Once you rectify your white clover issues, you can prevent future outbreaks using a pre-emergent herbicide containing isoxaben. There is one issue, though. Isoxaben-containing herbicides are sold for professional use only.
With the ability to identify some of the most common weeds you’ll see in your yard and how to control them, it’s time to act. Get out there, figure out the types of weeds you’re dealing with and establish a plan to eradicate them for good. Your lawn will reward you with the green carpet you desire.
Prickly Lawn Weeds (7 Different Types)
It’s a brand new morning with the birds singing and a soft, gentle breeze. A hot cup of coffee sits in your hand, the steam and aroma waft up as you take a deep breath. You place your bare feet onto your soft, spongy turf then… ouch! You found a prickly lawn weed! When this happened to me, it meant war, and I set out to identify, research, and destroy every last spiky weed on my lawn.
Stick around while I identify different types of weeds with thorns and tell you how to get rid of each type of prickly weed you may find on your lawn.
Most Common Prickly Lawn Weeds (Short Answer)
Burr Medic, Goat Head Weed, and Lawn Burweed are low-growing prickly lawn weeds. Spiny Sowthistle and Spiny Cocklebur are high-growing spiky weeds you may see on your lawn that can release painful burrs you may never see. Carolina Horsenettle and Jimson Weed are nightshade relatives and are both weeds with thorns on their stems.
A Closer Look at the Different Prickly Lawn Weeds
Some weeds may give you a prick when you touch them, while others may stick into your flesh as you pass. One thing is for sure, none of them are good for your lawn. Anything that scratches, pokes, stabs, or slices needs to be removed from your turf ASAP.
Below I’m going to talk you through some of the most common types so you can identify and then hopefully remove them too, restoring order to your lawn.
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha)
What It Does: This lawn weed with thorns grows low and, sporting trifoliate leaves, blends in with clover in a yard. Burr medic puts up small yellow flowers in March and June and then produces seed pods. By late summer, the pods dry up and open, dumping several seeds across the turf. These pods have spikes that allow them to hitchhike and spread throughout your lawn.
What It Looks Like: Burr Medic is related to Black Medic and resembles Clover. It has a thin, smooth, red-purple stem and produces oblong, green leaves. The leaves alternate along the stem in groups of three. The leaf tips are serrated and appear sharper than other trifoliate weeds. These prickly lawn weeds produce yellow pea-shaped flowers that are arranged in clusters of 2 to 10. Seed pods are green to brown with a sharp hook.
How to Get Rid of It: You can remove a small patch of these spiky weeds by hand, but make sure you wear gloves. It is best to remove them when you see the yellow flowers before they drop seeds. If there is a larger area of Burr Medic, you can use a broadleaf herbicide to kill it.
Goat Head Weed (Tribulus Terrestris)
What It Does: A fast, low-to-the-ground prickly weed that can grow a dense, prostrate stem mat up to 5ft long. Goat Head Weed overtakes dry, damaged, and neglected areas and then creates tons of inconspicuous flowers. As these flowers die away, seed pods are formed with several pointy spikes. These barbs can grab onto anything and get spread far and wide. They grow a deep taproot that can be hard to separate from the turf.
What It Looks Like: Goat Head Weed goes through several lifecycle stages and can be hard to identify before it’s too late. In the early stages, on a lawn, it will be hard to see and identify. As it grows large, the stem will remain erect in a crowed area to compete for light. In the open, it will sprawl across the ground and not stand upright. When it blooms, you will see bright yellow flowers with 5 petals each, roughly the same size as the leaves of the weed. These spiky weeds on your lawn turn reddish-brown after they flower.
How to Get Rid of It: While there are many ways to kill this weed, its complete destruction and the removal of all seed burrs are very difficult. To kill the plant, you can burn it with fire until the mass above the taproot is charred. Vinegar with 5% acidity or higher and herbicides like glyphosate and oryzalin are also effective. Once the weed is dead, you can rake or pull an old carpet over the area to collect the dreaded Goat’s Heads.
Lawn Burweed (Soliva sessilis)
What It Does: Found in thin and patchy turf, these prickly weeds on your lawn can be a real nuisance. Lawn Burweed germinates in the fall and grows through the winter when turf may be dormant. When the temperature warms up in the spring, these weeds produce buried seed pods that are carried throughout the lawn all summer and cause a painful sting when stepped on.
What It Looks Like: Early detection is key to preventing these burrs from occupying your lawn. Burwood grows low and branches freely. It has small, grayish-green leaves that grow opposite and are sparsely hairy. It produces small, ¼ of an inch flowers that can go almost completely unnoticed on a lawn. These flowers are replaced by small spine-tipped burrs that are often felt rather than seen.
How to Get Rid of It: Maintaining a thick, lush lawn throughout the winter months will prevent prickly lawn weeds like Burweed. If you can identify it in winter, you can use post-emergence herbicide through December, January, and February. After that, it will be hard to control without killing your turf and you should pull up (with gloves) and rake what you can and plan to attack next winter.
Spiny Sowthistle (Sonchus asper)
What It Does: Not a true thistle, this spiky weed starts with a basal rosette that closely resembles thistles. Spiny Sowthistle grows in neglected areas and can get up to 6ft tall. The leaves of this plant are very prickly and the flowers develop from spiky buds. It exudes a milky sap when cut that is quite sticky. Accidentally hitting these prickly weeds on your lawn with a weed whacker can create a sticky, spiky mess.
What It Looks Like: Spiny Sowthistle resembles a spiky dandelion. It has similar leaves, albeit much more prickly, that are a similar bluish-green. It produces the same yellow flower and the same tuft of white seeds. It is much larger than a dandelion and spreads rapidly.
How to Get Rid of It: Manual removal of Spiny Sowthistle is possible if the area is small. Wearing gloves, full skin coverings, closed-toed shoes, and eye protection, you can dig out the roots of this weed in the spring before it flowers. To discourage regrowth, you can pour vinegar around the base of the weeds. For larger areas, you will need to apply 2,4D or glyphosate herbicide to each plant before it flowers. After the plant dies back, dig it up by the roots and reapply the herbicide into the hole where you removed the weed. Do this until they stop coming back.
Spiny Cocklebur (Xanthium spinosum)
What It Does: High-growing lawn weeds with thorns, these invaders can reach 3 and a half feet tall. They produce a deep taproot and take over dry, disturbed territory. When the flowers die, a two-chamber burr is released. Each burr has two seeds, one germinates that following spring but the other delays for 2 or more years. Complete removal is a multi-year process.
What It Looks Like: An erect stem with many branches, this tall annual has yellow, 3-parted spines. The leaves are lance-shaped, 2 inches long, and smooth on top. Each leaf is shiny, dark green, and has small white hairs on its underside. The flowers are inconspicuous cream to green in color and bloom from December to May.
How to Get Rid of It: Hand removal and chemical treatment are both effective ways to eliminate these prickly lawn weeds. For hand removal, you will want to wear full protective gear, as these weeds can irritate the skin. Pull up all Spiny Cocklebur and any seedlings and dispose of them – don’t compost the waste! You will need to repeat this each spring for the next few years. Mowing on your highest lawn setting once a week during the early spring and as frequently as needed during the late spring can prevent Cocklebur from producing seeds. A post-emergent herbicide applied at the start of the year can also be effective.
Carolina Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)
What It Does: A member of the nightshade family, it is not a nettle but grows like one. It occupies dry and damaged turf. While the fruit of these weeds may look like tiny tomatoes, they are toxic to people and pets, and simply touching the plant can cause you to break out in rashes. They grow tall and emerge in spring when they choke out thin turf. Worst of all, they are lawn weeds with thorns on their stems and leaves.
What It Looks Like: Carolina Horsenettle looks like a spiky vine that creeps across the ground. They have prickly, oblong, dull green leaves that are about 2 to 6 inches long. These prickly weeds bloom from May to September and open between 5 and 20 pale violet, star-shaped flowers. The fruits look like little tomatoes, but turn from green to yellow and never turn red.
How to Get Rid of It: Getting rid of these types of weeds with thorns can be very tricky. It spreads by creeping roots and root fragments, as well as by seeds. Each plant can produce 5,000 seeds. Hand-pulling is not advised because of the long thorns that can penetrate even gloved hands. A glyphosate herbicide can be sprayed or painted onto the weeds. After the weeds die off in a few weeks, they must be dug up and another application of herbicide should be applied to the holes to kill any root fragments. Repeat as needed.
Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium)
What It Does: Another spiky relative of the tomato, Jimson Weed produces big poisonous fruits encased in a spiky shell. Jimson Weed can grow to several feet and produces flowers from May to September. They create spiky seed pods that burst open and spill hundreds of seeds all over the place.
What It Looks Like: A broadleaf annual, this prickly lawn weed can grow to 4ft tall. The leaves are lanced-shaped, oblong, and about 2in long. The colors of the stalks and stems of these weeds can range from green to purple. Each flowering stem produces a single white, trumpet-shaped flower that opens to around 2 inches.
How to Get Rid of It: While wearing gloves, you can hand pull Jimson Weed before it produces seeds. Place all yard waste in a bag and dispose away from your lawn. Repeated pulling of infested areas should yield a weed-free yard in a few seasons. A selective herbicide can be used to treat a larger area where this invasive plant is present.
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the “lawn mower guru” (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
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