The Dreaded Weeds: 6 of the Most Common Lawn Weeds & How to Get Rid of Them

You’ve finally mastered the art of treating your lawn to perfection, it is luscious and green, not a weed in sight… then you wake up.

Green and healthy grass can seem like a dream out of reach for most gardeners and trust me, I’ve been there: you’re sick to death of those sneaky weeds that infiltrate your garden, popping up to say “hello” at the worst of times!

Before treating these bad boys, you need to be able to identify them as you need to find the right weedkiller – or organic method – that can tackle the job once and for all!

But how do we identify them, I hear you ask?

And how do we get rid of them?

Worry not my friends, because if you read on, you’ll find the most common lawn weeds that you probably find in your garden as well as how to treat them!

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What are Weeds?

People don’t like to admit they have a weed problem in their garden, I know I don’t but the first step to combatting this issue is by admitting it and identifying them.

So, what is are weeds then?

There are three key terms used to identify the behavior and type of weed, these include the generic term: Common Weed, as well as other, more specific terms, Noxious Weed, and Invasive Weed.

Common Weed: “A wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.”

The keyword I take from that definition is “competition”.

Weeds are unwanted and pesky, and they can drain the life out of your other wanted plants, causing them to be a massive issue in the health and longevity of your garden!

Noxious Weed: “A weed that has been designated by an agricultural or other governing authority as a plant that is injurious to agricultural or horticultural crops, natural habitats or ecosystems, or humans or livestock.”

Invasive Weed: “An alien species of plant that shows a tendency to spread out of control. The label “invasive” is generally reserved for plants that have been introduced from other regions and spread like wildfire in their new habitats.”

woman wearing gardening gloves and holding lawn weeds

What Causes Weeds?

Weeds are opportunists, they grow when the conditions are right such as in moist or dry turf, and varying temperature levels. Many weeds are the product of poor lawn care and can thrive on this negligence.

When your garden is suffering from lawn disease, this causes dry and thin turf areas in which the weeds can take advantage of, if you want to prevent weeds you need to prevent lawn disease and there are many types that can affect the health of your grass.

Lawn disease is a factor that can create dry grass; however, weeds can also grow in the moist and warm grass, especially in those which have been overwatered creating a fungus and moss infliction.

Moss is desirable in the right setting; it is definitely not desirable on your lawn which can attract certain weeds as well as spread itself – not ideal!

You can easily get rid of moss in your lawn naturally with the right methods that will preserve the health of your grass.

man using garden sprayer in backyard

Most Common Lawn Weeds in the USA

There are many species of weeds that can be found globally, however, for the purpose of this blog, I will be talking about the most common weeds that can be found in the USA.

These most popular weed species can be categorized into noxious weeds or invasive weeds, and common weeds.

Noxious Weeds

Noxious weeds are destructive and can pose a risk in your garden. These weeds are remarkably hard to get rid of when using regular weed killing methods.

These weeds, as stated above, can be injurious to agriculture, so imagine how they can impact your regular garden!

In the USA, the most common noxious weeds include field bindweed, ragweed, and quack grass. These “super-weeds” are considered noxious on a federal and state level due to their ferocious nature in spreading and overtaking many landscapes!

Field Bindweed

field bindweed

Field bindweed is a perennial vine that dies down only once a year and can be found throughout the US except for the most southern regions. It has many names allocated such as wild-morning glory; not to be confused with the ornamental ‘morning glory’ which is an annual plant.

Originating from Eurasia, field bindweed is of the hardiest and difficult to combat weeds. It can spread from roots as well as from seeds. These weeds’ roots are found to reach depths of 14 feet!

A single field bindweed plant can spread its roots more than 10 feet in a single growing season!

The leaves of this plant can be identified by their spiral arrangement and arrowhead shape. The flowers are a deep trumpet shape with colors of white and pale pink. These flowers blossom in the mid-to-late summer and produce fruits with two seeds in each, these seeds can be eaten by birds or can lay dormant in the soil for decades.

The feature that causes this weed to be considered ‘noxious’ is the way in which it spreads and survives.

The deep roots make it hard to kill completely meaning whilst on surface-level weed killer might do the job, the roots far extension means it can survive as well as reproduce in a matter of time!

Moreover, above ground level, the stems of this plant can twist around the stems of other plants, climbing in a counterclockwise direction. This can suffocate your beloved plants as it is essentially choking them!

How to Prevent and Kill Field Bindweed

This notorious weed is unfortunately fearless to many tilling and cultivation methods as this can sometimes cause it to spread even further! Leaving even an inch of the root can mean it will most likely resprout and surprise you next season.

On top of this, field bindweed is drought-resistant, and once established, commercial weed killers are not enough to get rid of these weeds.

The best way in which you can stop these plants is through early prevention.

Many weeds are tackled through this method and are known to be very effective if started at the right time. This method is very reliant on proper lawn care such as watering and using the right tools.

In partnership with this, you’ll need to extract the seedlings when they’re about 3-4 weeks old, as soon after that the buds start to form and it’s pretty much downhill from there.

A long-term prevention method that you can use is light exclusion.

Bindweed grows well in mulches through the loose gaps; therefore, you need to close these gaps by placing a landscaping fabric over the top of the soil and then apply mulch on top.

After around three years, this light exclusion method will be the most effective way of getting rid of bindweed but be aware that the roots and seeds can lay dormant for decades, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for early sprouts!

Ragweed

Ragweed

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnfrisch/23683519268

Ragweed is known to be the cause of hay fever during springtime. This noxious weed can be found in every state of America except Alaska and has even been introduced to Hawaii, however, the main environment where ragweed truly thrives is in the Midwest and Northeast regions.

This weed has an abundance of different variants and all of which are super annoying! These variants can grow in fields and even between cracks of pavement.

Ragweed season peaks in mid-September, however, the plants start pollinating as early as July. Every single plant during pollination can produce over one billion pollen grains causing some major hay fever as well as worsen asthma in the spring.

The behavior of this plant is what makes it noxious, its roots are called taproots and are extremely strong and hardy; if any of these roots are left behind in the soil it poses a risk of resprouting.

Alongside this, the seeds offer the biggest risk as they can spread like wildfire and can travel through bodies of water as well as wind.

This weed can be distinguished by its leaf shape with its spear-shaped blades that protrude outwardly into lobes. The flowers of this weed are stamens with white and purple florets. These florets contain seeds and are wind-pollinated.

How to Prevent Ragweed

Once spotted, ragweed can be killed with a broadleaf weed killer or other general commercial weed killers. For this to be effective, it needs to be done when the seedlings are young, and the roots aren’t established enough as that will cause the response to the weed killer to be better.

Another progressive preventative method is by mowing your lawn regularly. Mowing will aid against the ragweed sprouting flowers and spreading seeds.

If you want a more natural approach to killing weeds, ragweed is one of the more responsive to this method than other noxious weeds. Again, this needs to be done as early as possible to prevent further spread. These natural methods include using vinegar as well as boiling water.

Quack Grass

Quack Grass

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/99758165@N06/

Quack grass is a creeping perennial weed that resembles closely to ryegrass and crabgrass, however, can be easily noticed through its thick stem and taller blades.

The areas in which this weed is most common include the northern portion of America and is extremely prominent in Ohio. It thrives mostly in crop fields, gardens, and roadsides.

This weed forms a heavy and matted formation that allows roots to spread and cultivate further, causing this plant to be considered invasive and noxious.

How to Kill and Prevent Quack Grass

Quack grass can be killed using a non-selective herbicide with the active ingredient being Glyphosate. This, however, can also kill traditional garden grass as well as ornamental plants so take care to only place it directly on the quack grass.

If you want pet-safe weed killers for your garden and weed problems, be sure to visit that post for more information!

Another way in which you can prevent and kill quack grass is by pulling it at the roots. You need to ensure that you do this effectively and with the right method so you don’t leave any of the roots leftover that could cause regrowth!

If you do use this method, you need to dispose of the plant in a waste bin as if you put it on a compost heap it can re-root and grow there.

Common Weeds

Common weeds are a pain as much as noxious weeds, however, they are usually easier to prevent and get rid of, luckily for you!

Dandelion

yellow dandelion in green grass lawn

Aaah the common dandelion.

This weed is dreaded in all gardens due to its deep taproot that extends over 15 feet! The puffball seed-head means that with and a gust of wind, the seeds will blow and germinate in any garden it lands in.

Dandelions grow in all areas of America; they don’t discriminate as they can thrive in pretty much all settings.

How to Prevent and Kill Dandelions

The most effective way to prevent dandelions from future sprouting is proper lawn care. Dandelions grow in loose and unrooted grass areas; many people experience dandelions growing in newly laid grass that has a weak root system.

To prevent this, you need to create a dense and healthy lawn through regular watering and mowing, as well as reseeding dry areas. This will be a long-term preventative method that you can use to extend the health of your lawn!

Aside from long-term methods, you can use weedkillers that are most suited for deep root extermination, such as Ortho Weedclear.

For more ways that you can use to get rid of dandelions, read my article here!

Pigweed

Pretty much every farmer in North America has had their struggle with pigweed. It wins the title as one of THE most troublesome common weed types that can affect basically any garden.

This weed thrives in summer and can be an exhausting issue throughout all of America – as well as globally! The pigweed name is actually a term that has several species attached, and all of which are a pain to get rid of.

These weeds love the summer heat. They emerge after spring and wreak havoc all summer in many gardens and crop fields, only to die in fall.

They can be distinguished by their leaf shape being broad and rounded with a pointed tip. Their flowers are similar to that of ragweed and carry seeds within their flowers.

How to Kill and Prevent Pigweed

Word of advice when dealing with this plant: pull it out before it flowers!

Another method that is tried and true in preventing the spread of pigweed is by applying a layer of winter mulch to your garden. The seeds of this weed need sunlight to germinate, so by covering this weed with mulch you are starving it of the nutrients it requires!

Purslane

Purslane weed

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/irisphotos/

Whilst purslane is considered noxious in one US state, it is actually a more common weed.

This weed can be identified through its succulent nature with rounded green and red leaves.

Why is this plant such a headache?

This plant is an issue due to its high spreadable nature for each plant can produce 2 million seeds!

Once these seeds have spread, this plant can flourish and grow in pretty much all environments. Aside from this, purslane can also grow through its leaves spreading the growth even further.

Purslane, due to its succulent-type behavior can survive in dry conditions, however, prefers moist soil and warm weather.

How to Prevent and Kill Purslane

Purslane can be eradicated through simple weed pulling. Unfortunately, purslane is most responsive to preventative measures rather than herbicide.

This plant can live in your soil for long periods of time and little seedlings can pop up unexpectedly, so the minute you see one pull it out ASAP!

Regular mulching and aeration of the soil will also prevent this weed from growing as it makes it hard to establish a deep root system. Using synthetic mulches will also help to filter out light, hence draining the plant of its nutrient source.

Summary

Weeds are a common issue that so many people face and can drive you to the brink of crazy – I’ve been there.

Now that you know the most common weeds, noxious and common, and how to identify them, you’ll be able to protect your garden from their future invasion!

Whilst they can be unavoidable, weeds are can be contained, so let me know in the comments if you’ve had any success with tackling your garden weed problem, and feel free to share this article with anyone suffering too!

About the Author: Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.