Identifying Weeds in the Lawn

Photo by JAK,

Photo by JAK,

When we think of weeds in the lawn, we often think of the friendly or not so friendly dandelion. As children, we pick the pretty yellow flowers and offer them up as tokens of our undying love and devotion. When the yellow flowers give way to the fluffy white cotton, we make a wish and blow the seeds into the wind, effectively ensuring another crop. As adults, we fail to remember the magic of the dandelion and we look for the best way to kill it.

But what actually constitutes a weed? If we actually think about it, a weed is anything that isn’t in its proper place. In this definition, any plant can be considered a weed. However, there are two main categories of weeds that will plague your lawn.

Broadleaf Plant or Weed

There are over 100 different common types of broadleaf weeds that are commonly found in lawns. Some of the most notable characteristics of these weeds are yellow flowers, purple leaves, and jointed nodes. The root systems of these can be either small or can be ones that seem as if they are going clear to China.

Narrow Leaf or Grassy Weeds

There are many different varieties of narrow leaf weeds that will infest a lawn. These are also commonly referred to as grassy weeds. These usually have a wider blade than regular turf or lawn grass. Some of these are annual weeds that will only live for one season. But they will give off a lot of seed for the next year’s crop.

Some grassy weeds will grow faster than your normal lawn and stand a little taller. They seem to announce to the world, “Here I am…I’m different!” Other grassy weeds have a fine, fine blade and will grow in small patches. These usually will die out in the summer heat.

With so many possibilities and similar characteristics, learning to identify the exact species or varieties of weeds may seem difficult. But for proper identification, you will always want to look at the complete plant in question. This includes the root and stem and whenever possible, the seed and/or flower of the weed.

Which weed causes you the most grief in your lawn?


  1. Over the past couple of seasons slender speedwell seems to have been a major problem in my lawn and other lawns in the area. This weed is difficult to remove as it seems somewhat resistant to weed killers. I find the best way in dealing with it is to rake the weed prior to mowing and to always remove the clippings as the weed can spread if the clippings are returned. This practice seems to weaken the weed and keep it in check.

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