Warm weather means flowers, green grass — and weeds that’ll turn your yard into a turf war. Your first line of defense? Maintain a healthy lawn with proper watering, feeding, and aeration. After that, know the bad guys that try and take over your territory. Here’s your guide to identifying some of the most common lawn weeds in North America, and how best to get rid of them.
AKA: flatweed, catsear
Description: Similar to good-old dandelions, the false dandelion changes up the color scheme, with white petals and yellow center. Both have parachute-type seeds and stubborn taproots, and the greens are edible (but bitter).
Get rid of it naturally: Dig it out with a garden fork (be sure to sever the root).
Description: A low-growing, drought-tolerant weed that forms dense mats. It flourishes in very warm soil, and shows up in late June — making preemergent herbicides useless. This edible weed has more beta-carotene than spinach.
Get rid of it naturally: Don’t let it go to seed; mulch to suppress; pull by hand.
Chemical attack: Use a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide June through September.
Description: One of the most invasive weeds in the world, nutsedge grows from underground tubers, so getting rid of it is a pain. Pulling the stalk doesn’t remove the tubers, which also evade herbicides. The thin stalks grow right through landscaping cloth.
Get rid of it naturally: Dig it up, removing all the tubers; drench areas with ½ cup molasses in 1 gallon water.
Chemical attack: Look for herbicides that target nutsedge.
Image: Gerald Holmes/Valent USA Corporation/Bugwood.org
Can You Name These Common Weeds?Chickweed
AKA: mouse ears, star weed
Description: A low-growing weed that likes moist and shaded conditions, such as the bed of ivy shown here. In lawns, it forms dense mats with small, symmetrically placed leaves on stringy stems. It’s sometimes picked as a salad green or topical salve for skin irritations, but pregnant and nursing women should avoid it.
Get rid of it naturally: Pull it by hand or dig up the shallow roots.
Chemical attack: Use a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide.
Description: This fast-growing weed can be invasive. The stems and leaves have little hooked bristles so it can attach itself to fencing, posts, and other growing plants. The sticky seeds catch on animal fur.
Get rid of it naturally: Pull it (wear gloves), but be careful not to tear out whatever plant it’s attached itself to.
Chemical attack: Use a general post-emergent herbicide.
Image: Tina Negus
Can You Name These Common Weeds?Wood sorrel
AKA: shamrock, sour grass
Description: Despite its sweet, clover-like appearance, the wood sorrel is a persistent weed that finds its way into flower boxes, containers, and beds.
Get rid of it naturally: Hand-pick from planters; use proper lawn care to crowd out sorrel.
Chemical attack: Apply a preemergent herbicide in spring; spot treat with a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide.