Learn to identify the different types of garden weeds in order to discover various efficient methods to treat them and get rid of the weeds in your garden for good.
Have you ever observed the growth of unwanted plants in your garden? Have you found yourself wondering what these plants are and how they came in your garden when you never planted them there? We are pretty sure these unwanted species may be affecting the appearance of your landscape, too. If yes, they are most likely garden weeds.
Garden weeds are undesirable garden invaders, and nobody likes to talk about them. They can be a nuisance for garden owners, and a nightmare for the owners of vegetable gardens. However, talking about them is important because this is the only way you will know how to get rid of them.
Garden weeds keep growing back because people have inadequate knowledge about their types and the methods used to treat them. In order to get rid of garden weeds for good, you need to have considerable knowledge about how to identify the different types of garden weeds.
Read ahead to know what the common types of garden weeds are and how can you get rid of them effectively.
Table of Contents
- Types of Garden Weeds
- Common Types of Garden Weeds
- 1. Bindweed (Convolvulus)
- 2. Lamb’s Quarter Weed (Chenopodium album)
- 3. Pigweed (Amaranth)
- 4. Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
- 5. Crabgrass
- 6. Quackgrass Weed (Elymus repens)
- 7. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- 8. Chickweed
- 9. Stinging Nettle
- 10. Purslane Weed (Portulaca oleracea)
- 11. Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
Types of Garden Weeds
Weeds are divided into three major groups, which are:
- Annual Weeds
- Lawn Weeds
- Perennial and Woody Weeds
Annual weeds are the types of weeds that last for either one growing season or one year. These types of weeds produce plenty of seeds for weed growth during the next year and years after it.
As the name indicates, lawn weeds are the types of weeds that are seen growing in lawns. These weeds grow so vigorously that they end up suffocating the grass.
Perennial and Woody Weeds
These types of weeds produce deep, large, or creeping roots. They keep growing back year after year. They can re-grow from even the smallest left-over segment. If you try digging them up, the problem may get worse.
Common Types of Garden Weeds
Now that you know the 3 major groups of weeds, let’s go through some of the most common garden weeds. These common weeds are invasive in nature, and they compete with garden plants (fruits, vegetables, and crops).
1. Bindweed (Convolvulus)
Having bindweed in your garden can be extremely infuriating and frustrating. It is a difficult weed to get rid of. However, before you can invest any time or money in trying to get rid of bindweed, you first need to be sure that the weed you are dealing with is bindweed.
Bindweed is often called wild morning glory because of its resemblance to the morning glory plant. It is a climbing type of perennial vine. Initially, bindweed produces thread-like vines that wrap themselves around any upward objects or more commonly, tightly around the plants. Later, bindweed vines will produce leaves that are like an arrowhead. The flowers of bindweed are like a trumpet and can be either white or pink in color.
After you are certain that the garden weed in your garden is bindweed, you should take steps to either control its growth or get rid of it completely. The root system of this type of garden weed is extremely widespread and hardy. You will never be able to remove all of the bindweeds in the first attempt. You should be mentally prepared multiple attempts at trying to remove all the bindweed that has infested your garden.
Bindweed can be killed by two methods. You can either use boiling water or pesticides. If you are using boiling water, pour it over the plant and 2 to 3 inches around the plant to target as many roots as possible. If you are using a pesticide, it should be applied heavily on the plant. The pesticide should be reapplied every time you see bindweed re-growth. You can also trim the vines whenever they are produced to control the spread of this garden weed.
2. Lamb’s Quarter Weed (Chenopodium album)
Lamb’s quarter is an edible, annual, broadleaf weed. However, since it can harbor numerous viral diseases, it is best to keep them out of your garden. Getting rid of these garden weeds is not as challenging as bindweed, but the biggest problem with lamb’s quarter weeds is that they can produce seeds when they are only a few inches tall. These seeds can survive in the soil for several years and can sprout whenever the soil is disturbed.
Identifying Lamb’s Quarter
When lamb’s quarter is still young, the leaves of the seedlings are green in color with a bluish tint on the upper sides and a red-purple tint on the undersides. The foliage is covered with shiny, clear granules. When the plant matures, these granules form a white-colored, powdery coating on the underside of the leaves. Once the leaves mature, they become lancet-shaped or oblong. The end of the leaves near the stem is wider than the tip. The color of mature leaves is pale gray-green. The edges of the leaves are toothed, and they often fold upwards. They usually have a single stem that has red striations. Flowers grow in clusters of yellow-green that bloom at the tips of stems.
Controlling Lamb’s Quarter
The seeds of lamb’s quarter can survive in the soil for as many as 20 years. In order to effectively control this weed, you have to make sure that you pull them out of the soil before they are mature enough to produce seeds. Lamb’s quarter has a taproot system that is quite easy to pull out. This garden weed dies at the first frost of the season and grows back the next year from the seeds that mature plants produced the previous year.
Efficient control involves mowing the garden weeds regularly to make sure they are removed before they grow big enough to produce seeds. The use of herbicide can also help in preventing the seeds from germinating, hence controlling the spread of lamb’s quarter.
3. Pigweed (Amaranth)
Pigweed is an annual weed that emerges after the frost season has passed. It is a summer-loving weed that competes with warm-season crops. Pigweed reproduces by seeds and spreads vigorously. One mature pigweed plant can produce as many as 100,000 to 600,000 seeds! It is this garden weed’s prolific seed production that makes it an extremely difficult weed to control and manage.
Pigweed is quite easy to recognize.
When the pigweed seedlings emerge, they can be identified by long, narrow cotyledons, which are then followed by the emergence of leaves. The leaves of pigweed seedlings are broadly oval. These garden weeds produce a taproot that is not very deep. The taproot, undersides of the leaves and the flower stems have a reddish coloration. The usual height of pigweed plants is 1 to 6 feet. Oval to diamond-shaped leaves is arranged separately on the stems. Pigweed produces small, green-colored flowers. The quantity of these flowers is in the thousands. They are produced in clusters on the axils of leaves or at the tips of the main stems.
Pigweed can be controlled by cultural and chemical methods, but it is recommended that you use a combination of both of these methods.
Pigweed seeds require sunlight and higher temperatures for germination. Therefore, try to cultivate land during the night to reduce the chances of pigweed seed germination. You should plant high-yielding plant varieties in your field. The field should be plowed at least twice in a season. This will keep the pigweed seed germination and pigweed spread under control.
Many Pigweed varieties are resistant to some herbicides. However, it is not easy to identify resistant and non–resistant pigweed herbicides. Crop herbicide rotation can be done simultaneously with the cultural control to stop the spread of pigweed.
4. Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Buckhorn Plantain is a perennial herb. It can grow in any season. Like other types of garden weeds, buckhorn plantain spreads through seedlings. Their seeds can survive in the soil for several decades. Controlling the spread and getting rid of this garden weed can be challenging because of the prolific seed germination. It is most commonly found growing in moist areas.
Identifying Buckhorn Plantain
Identifying buckhorn plantain before they are mature enough to produce seeds is extremely important when it comes to controlling this garden weed. The cotyledons of buckhorn plantain are needlelike. The leaves that are produced initially are lance-shaped and oblong, with a hairy base, but true leaves of seedlings are broad, pale-green in color, and have parallel veins.
Leaves of a mature plant are football-shaped that spiral around a short stem. The flower-head looks like an egg and consists of densely clustered, inconspicuous flowers. The open flowers have protruding white-colored stamens.
Controlling Buckhorn Plantain
Controlling the growth of buckhorn plantains can be time-consuming. You can either pull the young seedlings out or try to reduce reseeding.
Young seedlings can be pulled out lightly. Since they have a taproot, pulling the plant with its root system is not very difficult. However, if you feel the root system is deeper, you can pry and twist while you pull the seedling out.
To reduce reseeding, the weeds can be cut using a trimmer at the soil line so that the chances of seed production are lowered. Moreover, cutting back the weed repeatedly can also reduce reseeding significantly.
Crabgrass is an annual garden weed that is highly opportunistic. It grows vigorously when the temperatures are warmer. They grow and spread over the bare spots of your lawn rapidly. Although they die on the arrival of frost, they produce enough seeds for the next season that can germinate to produce an invasive mass of weeds in your lawn. It gets its name from its appearance. The stems resemble crab legs, growing from the center of a grass clump.
Crabgrass weed has wide, yellow-green leaves. Crabgrass seedling leaves are twice as long as they are wide. Initially, this garden weed produces 3 to 4 branches in a starfish pattern, but upon maturity, the stems tend to curve in an upward direction. The leaves have tiny hairs on both the upper side and the underside.
Crabgrass seeds require warm conditions to germinate. This garden weed grows best in lawns that are poorly maintained because the lighter and sparser the grass is, the more exposure of sunlight and heat the crabgrass seeds will get. If you want to avoid the growth of crabgrass in your lawn, try to keep your lawns maintained with thick grass.
However, if crabgrass has already made a home in your lawn, you will have to take some serious steps to get rid of it. Pre-emergent herbicides are the saviors when it comes to killing and controlling crabgrass weeds. These herbicides prevent the weed from growing. It does not stop the seed germination; instead, it stops the process of cell division and growth after the seed has germinated, eventually killing it. Pre-emergent herbicide is by far the most effective weed killer for getting rid of crabgrass garden weed.
6. Quackgrass Weed (Elymus repens)
Quackgrass is an odd-looking grass that grows in your lawn. It looks distinctively different from the regular grass and therefore is quite easy to identify. It grows commonly on roadsides where it produces seeds. These seeds are carried to your lawn via birds and insects, and that is how it finds its home in your garden, soon becoming a nuisance.
Identification of quackgrass is easy because of its leaf blades. The leaf blades of quackgrass are longer than the usual grass that you have in your lawn. The long leaves grow on hollow stems. The leaf blades wrap themselves around the stem with the help of clasping auricles. This is the distinguishing feature of quackgrass weed.
Controlling quackgrass can be tiring. This garden weed can grow in any type of soil, but if the soil is sandy or loamy, this garden weed spreads like lightning. If you find any quackgrass growing in your garden, remove the plant along with its roots. The roots of quackgrass are quite deep-seated, and therefore, you may have to make sure that no roots are left behind. However, if the weed growth has become widespread, the only option that you have is to either remove each pant manually or replant the entire bed.
This grassy weed cannot be killed with any herbicide. Only selective herbicides can kill them, but the thing with these herbicides is that they will kill any plants planted around the quackgrass. Therefore, what you will have to do is remove the plants that you wish to replant and then apply selective herbicide. Wait for a week and then reapply. Keep repeating the process until no more quackgrass grows back in a week’s time.
7. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelions are perennial plants that produce beautiful and attractive, yellow-colored flowers in spring. However, they are extremely invasive in nature and can take over your garden, ornamentals, and even the grass. Their root system is fairly deep, which makes their removal difficult as well.
Who doesn’t know what Dandelions look like? With large, yellow flowers and a vibrant appearance and jagged leaves, the identification of Dandelions is not tricky.
Controlling and eliminating Dandelions is nothing less than a challenge. Since their roots are deep, you can’t just pull them out. Any parts of roots that are left behind will grow back. Moreover, mowing is not an option in case of Dandelions because their growth initiates from the basal rosette that is way deeper than where the blade of the mower can reach. To slow down the spread of Dandelions, you need to plant varieties of species that grow vigorously and are competitive.
Adding mulches of bark or wood chips is effective as well, only if their depth is maintained at 3 inches and replaced every few days. Mulching reduces the amount of heat and sunlight that reaches the soil.
Chickweed is one of the most common types of garden weeds. Although controlling it is difficult, it is not impossible. There are two types of chickweed which occur in gardens commonly; Cerastium vulgatum (the Mouse-ear chickweed) and Stellaria media (the common chickweed). Mouse-ear chickweed is a perennial plant that forms low-lying dense patches, whereas the common chickweed is an annual species that is a lot easier to control.
Identifying chickweed is quite easy. It does not grow more than a few inches from the ground. It is stringy and tender. Its leaves are very small, having an egg or teardrop shape, with a pointed tip. They grow opposite one another on the stem. The white flowers of chickweed are very small. They have 5 petals that have such a deep cleft that they appear to be 10.
The leaves are found at the base of the flowers and have fine hairs on their surface. The distinguishing feature of chickweed is the line of hair that runs along the length of the stem.
Both species of chickweed have a shallow root system. The best way to control and kill chickweed is the manual pulling of the individual plant from the soil. Pulling out the entire plant is quite easy because the roots are not deep-seated. If the spread of chickweed is too widespread, you can use non-selective herbicides that attack the root system and result in the death of the plant.
9. Stinging Nettle
As the name indicates, the stinging nettle causes stinging and blistering on the skin. It is a perennial plant that is an unpleasant plant to have in your garden. These garden weeds grow in areas where the soil is damp and rich in nutrients. Getting rid of this weed is challenging because of the effect it has on human skin.
Identifying Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle grows in dense clusters and can grow to a height of 5 to 8 feet. The leaves of this weedy plant are quite long with jagged edges. The leaves are present in the upper half of the stalk, as opposite pairs. These leaves have a heart-shaped base, pointed tips, and indented veins. Small hairs are present on the stems and stalk, which is what causes the stinging.
Controlling Stinging Nettle
As mentioned earlier, getting rid of the stinging nettle is quite challenging. It’s not only the fact that their leaves are stingy, but their horizontal roots can spread as long as 5 feet. They grow from underground rhizomes, so the only way to control their spread and completely remove them is to remove the plant from the soil, including its underground rhizomes and the roots.
You will need to wear gloves while you pull the plants out. No matter how many times you pull the plant out, if underground rhizomes and roots are not removed, the stinging nettle will keep growing back. Chemical herbicides can also be used to kill this garden weed.
10. Purslane Weed (Portulaca oleracea)
Purslane weed is one of the most challenging weeds to get rid of. The reason for this is that purslane weed can keep growing back through several survival methods. You can only get rid of this garden weed if you are aware of all the ways by which it can grow back.
Identifying Purslane Weed
Purslane weed is most commonly found growing in recently cultivated soil or clear, uncultivated areas. It is a succulent plant that grows outward in the shape of a circle. This plant is found growing near the surface of the ground. The stems are fleshy and red in color. The leaves are green in color and paddle-shaped. The flowers of purslane plants are yellow in color and star-shaped.
Controlling Purslane Weed
After you have made sure that the type of weed growing in your garden is purslane weed, you should now be looking at ways to get rid of it. The most effective method of controlling this garden weed is to deal with it when the plants are still young. When they grow to seed-producing age, they can actually throw their seeds at a distance that results in the infestation becoming extremely widespread.
You can pull out purslane plants by hand. A single plant usually covers a large area, so if you pull one plant out, you are clearing a significantly large area. Herbicides can also kill this garden weed. However, they too work best when the plant is young. The challenging part is that this plant can re-grow from any part of the plant, which means, if you leave behind even the smallest fragment, it will re-grow. The seeds can survive for several years.
When you are clearing the area of purslane plants and seeds, make sure that you put them in a plastic bag before disposing of them to avoid any re-growth and re-infestation. Moreover, putting a thick layer of mulch on the ground can also help control purslane as it would prevent sunlight from reaching the seeds, which is necessary for seed germination.
11. Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
Japanese knotweed is a perennial weed. It has a bamboo-like stem. It forms dense stands, resulting in the halted growth of native plants. Its extensive root system makes it extremely difficult to get rid of.
Identifying Japanese Knotweed
Identification of Japanese knotweed is not difficult. It can be recognized by its bamboo-like appearance. The stem has purple speckles. The leaves of Japanese knotweed have a triangular shape and are green in color. They grow on a zig-zag twig.
Controlling Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed is one of the most invasive weeds in the world. Its root system is highly established. The roots can grow as deep as 3m and can spread as far as 7m, making its removal extremely difficult. There are four ways by which you can get rid of this invasive garden weed. You can either smother the plant with tarps, use an herbicide to kill it, cut the plant completely to the ground, or dig out the rhizomes. Japanese knotweed removal and control can be very tiring and frustrating.
Weeds are unwanted plants that grow at unwanted places and affect the existing plantation drastically. They compete with other plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight, causing the plants in your gardens to die and also become a hindrance for the growth of new plants. Nobody wants their effort and love with which they prepared their gardens to go to waste, and that is why all gardeners should be extremely mindful of any weed growth. Controlling garden weeds becomes extremely difficult if they become too widespread. The more vigilant you are, the earlier you will be able to catch the growth of garden weeds and stop it in its tracks!