Beginner Weed Guide for Your Garden

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Is it a plant, is it grass or is it a weed?

Although I’ve done gardening at home since a teenager, this is still a puzzling question that stumps me every other occasional weekend afternoon. If I had a guide for all these back then, I would’ve had a pavement that didn’t need harsh chemical treatment to make it walkable again.

A weed can be any plant growing where you don’t want it to. However, there are some particularly weedy species to keep an eye out for. These aggressive plants not only make your yard look messy, but they can also choke out the garden plants you’ve worked so hard to grow.

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These are popular weeds that grow in lawns and gardens in sun or shade.

How they look: 

This common lawn weed has a long taproot; leaves are deeply notched. Yellow flowers mature into puffballs. Dandelion seeds are like parachutes that fly away in the wind, helping them invade new spaces in lawns and garden beds.

To control and/or get rid of these, simply pull dandelion weeds by hand or treat lawns with a broadleaf herbicide, which won’t kill the grass.

Also grown in lawns and gardens with or without shade are the following plants:

Digitaria - Wikipedia

Crab Grass

How they look: 

Crabgrass is exactly what it sounds like: A grassy weed. This lawn weed grows roots anywhere the stem makes soil contact. Seed heads spread out like four fingers.

To control and/or get rid of these, use a preemergence weed preventer to prevent seeds from sprouting, pull crabgrass by hand, or spot-treat with a nonselective herbicide if growing in sidewalk cracks or other places where nothing else is growing.

Trifolium repens - Wikipedia

White Clover

How they look: 

White clover has three-lobe leaves and round white flower clusters. The plants quickly spread outward to form dense mats of foliage.

To control and/or get rid of these, mulch your garden beds to prevent white clover in landscape areas. Use an iron-based herbicide to get rid of clover growing in lawns or dig out the weeds in garden beds.


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Nutsedge has slender, grassy leaves, triangular stems, and small, nutlike tubers on the root system. When these weeds pop up in lawns, they often grow faster than turf grass, so they are easy to spot.

To control and/or get rid of these, mulch garden areas in spring to help prevent nutsedge. Plants are easy to pull up by hand, but it will take repeated weeding to get rid of an infestation. Various herbicides are labeled for use on nutsedge in lawns but it is important to use the right one for the type of turf grass you have to avoid damaging it.


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