Identify Weeds in the Lawn

In order to identify weeds in the lawn, first determine whether it is a broadleaf or grassy type weed. This is important for determining the timing for control and which herbicide to use

Common Broadleaf Weeds

Some common broadleaf weeds include the dandelion, ground ivy, clover, plantain, chickweed, and thistle.

  1. Dandelion
    • Danelions are easily spotted because their circle of deeply notched, lance-shaped leaves lies close on the soil surface, obstructing grass from growing. Its yellow flower blooms at the tip of the tall stem. Later it turns into a fuzzy, round seed ball that scatters in the wind. Dandelions have long, thick taproots, which makes it extremely difficult to eradicate by hand. Dandelions move in when irrigation is inadequate.
    • For postemergence control, 2,4-D and MCPP are the most effective. Spray on a windless day when temperatures are higher than 60 degrees, but less than 85 degrees Farenheit.

  2. Ground Ivy
    • Ground Ivy has leaves that are large and rounded like a kidney. It has a minty smell and tiny, tube-shaped, purple flowers. This creeping weed sends out stems over and just below the soil surface, rooting as they go. It prefers a damp soil surface.
    • Postemergence controls: 2,4-DP or 2,4-D during spring or fall.

  3. Clover
    • White clover and burclover are the problem varieties in most lawns. White clover has shamrock-shaped leaves with a white or pink ball of a flower. Clover forms thick patches that choke out grass. It creates in uneven appearance in an otherwise smooth lawn. Clover thrives in soil with low fertility.
    • Postemergence products should contain dicamba or MCPP in spring or late fall.

  4. Plantain
    • Plantains have a circular cluster of bright green leaves that grow directly from the roots. Tall, slender spikes grow up from the center of the cluster. Plantains grow best in cool seasons.
    • Postemergence controls are MCPP or 2,4-D, to be applied before the center spikes sprout.

  5. Common Chickweed
    • This weed grows in clumps of delicate stems and tiny leaves which rapidly spread across a lawn. It bears tiny, white flowers from March to December. Chickweed prefers cool, moist, weather and shade, as well as slightly acidic soils. It grows fast and plentiful in the cool weather of the spring and fall. It grows poorly in summer heat.
    • Postemergence controls are dicamba or MCPP. Apply these chemicals during the spring or fall when temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Farenheit.

  6. Thistle
    • Thistles have sharp spines or prickles all over their tough, fibrous stems and deeply notched leaves. They produce soft, silky flowers that are usually purple or pinkish. Thistle grows best during the cool weather of spring, and fall.
    • The most effective postemergence control is 2,4-D. Spray in the fall; two applications may be needed. Spot apply only with glyphosate.

Common Grassy Weeds

As the name suggests, grassy weeds are plants with long, narrow, green foliage similar to that of turf grass. However, they don't blend in with the rest of your lawn. Their foliage is usually coarser, thicker, and off-color. Some grassy weeds grow in thick humps and clumps so that mess up the smooth appearance of lawns.

Some common grassy weeds include crabgrass, annual bluegrass, and nutgrass.

  1. Crabgrass
    • Crabgrass has broad leaves and is rough textured. The seeds dropped the previous fall sprout to form new plants in the late spring to early summer. It grows fast until the purplish, seed head forms in summer or early fall. The tough clumps of coarse foliage become obvious in the lawn in the early fall.
    • Crabgrass requires high light-intensity. Once established, it is very hardy. It will tolerate high temperatures, compacted soils, and dry soils better than most turf grasses.
    • Preemergent weed control must be applied in the spring before seedlings appear. Herbicides that work best contain benefin, bensulide, DCPA, oxadiazon, pendimethalin, or siduron. For postemergence control, use MSMA or MAMA. More than one application is required.

  2. Annual Bluegrass
    • Just because it has "Bluegrass" in its name, don't be mislead into thinking this is a desirable grass to have in your lawn.
    • Annual Bluegrass sprouts so early, that it may already go to seed by late spring. These seeds, in turn, sprout and the new plants seed again in the fall. It likes cool and moist conditions. It wilts severely in mid summer, opening up space for other weeds to grow in.
    • There is no good control product to date.

  3. Goose Grass
    • This grassy weed is also known as silver crabgrass and is often mistaken for crabgrass. Goose grass has fibrous roots and very flattened sheaths having a silvery green color, especially near the center of the plant. It produces fingerlike seed heads on which seeds are arranged like teeth in a zipper on the seed stalk. This weedy grass grows well on heavily compacted soils.
    • Goose grass germinates 4 to 6 weeks later than crabgrass.
    • Apply a preemergent about 3 to 4 weeks after the normal application date for crabgrass.

If you find it too difficult to identify weeds in the lawn or don’t want to be exposed to pesticides, have a local lawn treatment company do it. I like how you can sign up online for a free estimate.

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