Help With Getting Rid of Common Lawn Weeds

List With Photos to Aid You in Identification, Control

There are many common lawn weeds that you may know by their appearance yet not by name. But in such cases, do you truly "know" them? Perhaps not well enough to get rid of them (if that is your objective), one could argue. For there is often a certain trick to killing a particular unwanted plant, a trick that somebody has written about on the web. But if you don't know the plant's name, how can you search for it on the web and gain access to said information? It's a familiar...MORE catch-22: It takes knowledge to acquire knowledge.

If that's the catch-22 that you face, you've arrived at a resource that may help you out of your predicament. Pictures are provided below of several common lawn weeds to help you with identification, while also offering some preliminary control tips here and there. If you wish to delve more deeply into control methods for a particular entry, just click the link near its picture.

  • 01 of 09
    The dandelion bloom (image) is one of the most recognizable weed flowers. Some even like it.
    The dandelion has one of the most recognizable blooms among the weeds. David Beaulieu

    Most of the common lawn weeds covered here boast a silver lining, of which you can take advantage if you're willing to hear them out. In the case of dandelions, it's the fact that they are edible weeds.

    What's that you say? Enough of this nonsense of finding the good in dandelions? You want to get right to the information on how to get rid of this lawn nemesis? No problem. When you click the link near the photo, you'll immediately find tips on dandelion removal, including why...MORE it's important to recognize this common lawn weed as being a perennial, specifically.

    Those of a more tolerant nature can proceed to read to the end of the article, where you will also learn about eating dandelions. Observation: Eating them is a lot easier than killing them, plus it's more fun.

  • 02 of 09
    Creeping Charlie is a weed or herb with scalloped edges on its leaves.
    Creeping Charlie has leaves with scalloped edges. David Beaulieu

    Although it's just a common lawn weed, one can count creeping Charlie among the fragrant plants. When you mow a lawn that has creeping charlie mixed in with the grass, the fragrance is released into the air. Perhaps it's a small thing, but inhaling the pleasant aroma takes one's mind off the work involved in mowing.

    Not interested? All right, don't get your nose out of joint! In addition to citing creeping Charlie's uses (for example, did you know that it was once employed in...MORE the beer-making process?), this article also broaches the subject of getting rid of it: Learn how to apply Borax to it to kill it. Note, however, that many regard this approach as risky and avoid it in favor of other options.

  • 03 of 09
    Common plantain weed with its hosta-like leaves.
    Common plantain has leaves with prominent veins, looking rather like the foliage on some hosta plants. David Beaulieu

    Common plantain (Plantago major) may take you back to your childhood. Did you have a pet bunny as a kid? What did you feed it? If you built a bottomless outdoor cage for your pet (with the cage resting directly on the ground, without legs), your bunny no doubt would eat the vegetation under him. Grass would have been on the menu, but another favorite dish would have been common plantain (if present).

    But common plantain isn't just edible for rabbits: people can eat it, too. By the way, be...MORE aware of the alternate common plant name of "broadleaf" plantain as a reminder that there are different kinds of plantain weeds. Plantago major happens to have a wide leaf. But another type has more grass-like foliage and is called "buckhorn" plantain or "ribgrass": Plantago lanceolata.

    You can dig up plantains to get rid of them organically. However, they have a taproot, and any portion of the root system left in the ground will regenerate, so be prepared to dig deep and thoroughly.

  • 04 of 09
    Common ragweed leaf up-close.
    The leaf of common ragweed is deeply lobed. David Beaulieu

    Ragweed is one of the "itchy rash plants." There are actually two types of ragweed: the common type (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and giant ragweed. But the former type is more, well, common in lawns.

    Unlike some of the other examples on this list, Ambrosia artemisiifolia does not have a taproot, so weeding is easy: just pull it up. Another characteristic in which it differs from most of the other plants on the list is that it's indigenous to North America.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Succulent stems of the weed, purslane.
    Purslane has succulent stems. PaoloBis/Getty Images

    Do you think it odd to eat plants that some have deemed to be weeds? You shouldn't. As a preface to this strained yogurt and garlic recipe, the author says of purslane that it "has been present in many ancient cuisines all over the world for thousands of years." Purslane is a personal favorite among the edible weeds listed here. If you like juicy foods, then this plant, being a succulent, furnishes plenty of juice in every bite.

    What, gourmet food be damned, you say? You just want to...MORE know how to get rid of purslane? All right, the main fact that you need to keep in mind is that this common lawn weed is a prolific seed-producer. A chemical control regimen will address the issue at both ends: with a preemergent herbicide (e.g., dithiopyr) and a postemergent herbicide (e.g., 2,4-D). Persistence is required.

    Likewise, if you choose to engage the enemy organically (by digging it up), you will have to be persistent. Leaving the tiniest pieces of vegetation in the soil can result in the arrival of new reinforcements, as purslane plants possess regenerative powers.

    But remember: If you can't beat eat them, just eat them.

  • 06 of 09
    Dock flower (seed) heads against a snowy backdrop.
    Curly dock has dried seed heads that remind people of coffee grounds. David Beaulieu

    Yellow or "curly" dock is one of the easier plants listed here to identify. Take a look at the picture. You will see an example of the distinctive dried flower head (or what most people would think of as the seed head), which resembles coffee grounds. Also notice the background: Yes, that is snow that you see. The fact is, the dried flower heads are sturdy and will persist through the winter, so do not make the mistake of thinking that, if you just ignore them, they will be going away...MORE shortly (they won't).

    Dock is a tall plant, so you may not associate it with lawns. But if you've been busy with more pressing affairs and haven't been able to mow recently, when you finally get around to the task, you may find that some yellow dock seed has germinated. Dock also tends to take hold along fence lines where, perhaps, you have been less than diligent about doing your string trimming chores.

    This is another plant with a big taproot. While digging it out is possible, you'll have to be thorough. Follow up removal by checking to see if new growth has emerged from any root fragments left behind. If you don't care about staying organic and you're dealing only with an isolated yellow dock plant here or there, the leaves are big enough that you could carefully daub a bit of Roundup (glyphosate) onto the foliage to kill the plant.

    And how is this wild plant potentially beneficial? Yellow dock is known for its medicinal qualities. As explained in the full article, there's a simple medicinal use for yellow dock of which you can take advantage without holding a degree in herbalism. It involves another wild plant that you may have in your landscaping: stinging nettle.

  • 07 of 09
    Red clover's leaf (image) is tripartite. This is why St. Patrick could compare it to the Trinity.
    Red clover has three leaflets, marked with a lighter-colored "V.". David Beaulieu

    Like how to get rid of moss in a lawn, how to get rid of clover is a question that one frequently hears. While the former concern may be justified, you might wish to re-think worrying about the latter. Click the link near the photo of red clover to access the full article, which introduces clovers by way of relating interesting facts about shamrocks (did you know that there are even "black shamrocks?") and four-leaf clovers before progressing on to an account of why clover is healthy for...MORE a lawn.

    But if you feel you absolutely must kill the clover mixed in with your grass, there are both chemical and organic means to do so. For the former, seek a broadleaf herbicide intended for use on the type of grass that you're growing (study the label on the bottle carefully).

    A number of organic methods are at your disposal. One is simply to pull up the clover, add nitrogen (using compost, etc.) to that patch of ground (since the very presence of clover, a nitrogen-fixer, signals a nitrogen deficiency in the soil) and reseed with grass. To prevent a reoccurrence of the problem, follow these tips for growing green lawns to keep your grass so lush, thick and healthy that there will be no room for weeds to grow. This is good preventive advice to follow for keeping any unwanted plant out of your grass.

    Note: There are reports of sugar being used as an organic means to kill clover growing in grass, although the author of the present article has not tested this method.

    A common lawn weed that resembles a type of clover but isn't one is Oxalis stricta, better-known as "sourgrass" or as "yellow wood sorrel." True clovers are leguminous. Besides red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (Trifolium repens) is a common lawn weed. Another legume that may compete with your grass is bird's-foot trefoil.

  • 08 of 09
    As my photo shows there are white wild violets, besides purple-blue and yellow.
    Wild violets add so much visual interest to a lawn that some people choose to let them grow. David Beaulieu

    Wild violets are probably the best of the bunch in terms of appearance amongst the common lawn weeds featured here. In fact, some homeowners find the flowers sufficiently pretty that they decide to just leave the plants alone. Indeed, this relative of the Johnny-jump-up isn't far inferior to Johnny in the looks department -- and it's free.

    Using the link provided, you can access the full article and find out what else wild violets have to offer, plus (in case you're not impressed) how...MORE to get rid of them.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Photo of 5-inch leaf and bent stem of of smooth crabgrass. It's also called small crabgrass.
    Smooth crabgrass bears a leaf blade that is about 5 inches long. Note also the bent stem (upper right). David Beaulieu

    They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and some will take pleasure in observing the slightest glint of benefit they can find in each of the pesky plants listed above. But it's difficult to come up with a "good point" for crabgrass. Here is a tongue-in-cheek attempt to do so: Perhaps, in dire circumstances, you could mow it short and treat it as if it were a legitimate warm-season grass, hoping that no one would notice. But that would be a stretch even for someone with a great...MORE sense of humor regarding bad landscaping.

    Luckily, in the article linked to here, you will find all of the information you need to get rid of crabgrass: the what, the when and the how. The focus here is on pre-emergent herbicides; if what you need is information on postemergent herbicides, go to the article on crabgrass killers.