Types of Weeds
Although garden weeds are not something that people enjoy, they must be removed. They will eventually outcompete other vegetables, fruits, and grasses. There are many options available to you. Find out how to identify and manage 13 common weeds. To help, we have included photos of weed identification.
What is a Garden Weed?
There are many types of “weeds”. Here are some definitions that are based on the Weed Science Society of America descriptions.
- Weed – A plant that is causing economic loss or ecological damage, or creating health problems for animals and humans, or simply unattractive where it grows. Crabgrass is a classic example.
- Noxious Weed – Any plant that is declared by federal, state or local officials to be injurious for public health, agriculture or recreation, wildlife or property. Classic examples are Purple Loosestrife and Field Bindweed. See a list of noxious weeds by state here: http://wssa.net/links/noxious-weed-list/.
- Invasive weed: These are non-native invaders, meaning they have no natural enemies or competitors to stop their growth. This allows them to take over native plants, replace species and alter ecosystems. Kudzu, English Ivy are two classic examples.
“Weeds” are not necessarily bad. Many weeds can stabilize soil and increase organic matter. Some weeds are edible and can be eaten by humans. (See “Eating Weeds”). Weeds can also be indicators of the health and condition of your soil. Learn what weeds can reveal about your soil.
10 Ways to Prevent Weeds from Getting into Your Life
This article focuses on non-chemical solutions. Although herbicides can be an easy and quick solution, they will not prevent your weed problem from returning year after year. You must identify the root cause to ensure a healthy yard.
- Never let weeds seed! When the weeds are still young, you should weed them early. Some weeds can produce thousands of seeds from one plant, which will increase your weed control problems over the years. You should be accustomed to checking your garden every day. If you find weeds that are still young, pull them out of the soil or chop them off. Keep your digging low so you don’t spread weed seeds. When the ground is damp, like after a fresh rain, weeds are easy to remove.
- To avoid spreading weed seeds, clean your tools as you move around the garden. Don’t leave any pulled weeds on the garden surface; throw them away.
- Regularly mow your lawn to prevent weeds from growing seed. These green leaves should be removed!
- When shopping at garden centers, be careful. Make sure to ask for weed-free soil, manure, compost and soil. To ensure that grass seeds are free from other crops, it is important to read the labels.
- You can cover a weedy area with landscape fabric, black plastic or old carpet if you have the time (6-8 weeks before planting seeds). The first step is to remove the top 4-8 inches of soil from your garden beds. Next, rake the soil flat and cover it with soil. Next, don’t cultivate the soil to more than 2 inches. This can be done in the fall, winter, and early spring, when there isn’t an active gardening season.
- If your garden is full of perennial weeds, don’t plant again after you have seeded. You’ll only be able to break down the underground tubers and spread the weeds all over.
- Mulch should be applied! Mulch blocks sunlight and makes it harder for weed seeds to push through the mulch.
- Water only around the plants.
- You should not fertilize your lawn too much or too little. This will encourage weed growth.
- Establish a perimeter. Establish a perimeter. Pay particular attention to the area surrounding your garden, flower beds, natural area, or lawn. You can mow, mulch or pull up weeds as soon as they appear. This will help reduce the amount of weed seeds that are growing in the area. A good trimmer will make it easier for you to reach the weeds in tight places, such as between posts and garden beds.
Pay particular attention to the “perennial” weeds, as listed in the table below. Annual weeds are more resistant than perennial weeds and can be difficult to control year after year. It is important to remove roots, underground tubers and rhizomes from the soil without leaving any fragments. Any pieces left behind can be used to grow new weeds.
- You can remove the green parts of the weed by using a hoe or a mower. Repeat the process each time the weed re-grows. The underground parts of the plant will eventually die if they don’t have enough leaves to photosynthesis.
- You can remove as much of the taproot as possible by digging out the weed. It may be necessary to do this several times.
- To avoid tearing the stem off, wait until the soil has soaked.
These techniques will ensure that you don’t have to spend as much time weeding in the future.
13 Common Lawn and Flower Weeds
Here are some common lawn and garden weeds. This weed list has been divided into two sections: 1) problematic weeds which can compete with vegetables, fruits and crops, but may also have other beneficial uses (many are edible plants or attract bees) and 2) noxious and harmful weeds which are so detrimental to the ecology that they must be prohibited or controlled at both the state and federal levels.
Remember You decide what’s a weeb and what the consequences. If you want to grow asparagus, for example, it is important to keep your bed free of weeds or you will get a poor harvest. If you are okay with your yard being overrun by dandelions, then let it happen!
I. Troublesome Weeds
These weeds aren’t noxious, but they can grow in your yard and garden and cause problems if you don’t control them. You decide what weed is. These weeds can be found in your vegetable garden and you may want to keep them for their nutritional value. However, they can affect your harvest.
1. Crabgrass (Digitaria speciespp. )
Crabgrass, a summer perennial that grows slowly, spreads easily from seeds and roots of nodes found in the soil. It can reach 2 feet if left unattended.
It blooms from mid-spring to summer, when the ground remains warm. It thrives in hot, dry conditions. Crabgrass is an annual that dies at the close of each growing season, usually at the first frost in fall. It must also produce new seeds every year.
How to Control Crabgrass
Crabgrass is relatively easy to control. It is crucial to control crabgrass before it starts setting seeds. The seeds can survive for at least three years in the soil.
Regular mowing is all that’s needed to keep crabgrass in check. Experts recommend that your lawn be mowed to a height of 2-4 inches. This should be maintained by mowing it frequently enough.
You should also ensure that your lawn is healthy and thick. Crabgrass will eat a weak lawn. Seedling crabgrass can’t compete with vigorously growing turf, so it will crowd out other seedlings. The best competition for crabgrass is perennial ryegrass. It is also an insecticide that provides some control as it emits a natural toxic substance that can be harmful to some insects.
We do not recommend herbicides for crabgrass. They are not very effective. Because of the many crops that can be grown in vegetable gardens, it is best to avoid using chemical herbicides. You can easily control crabgrass in gardens by hand pulling, mulching, hoeing and hoeing the young plants before they start to set seed. Solarization is another method to control this weed. Crabgrass thrives on compacted lawns so aerating your lawn will make a big difference.
Mulching with wood products (e.g. Mulching with wood products (e.g., wood chips or nuggets), or composted yardwaste or synthetic landscape fabrics will reduce crabgrass in shrubbeds and bedding plants. It also blocks sunlight that is necessary for its germination and establishment. To reduce the seedling establishment, you can move crabgrass in mulch with a rake. Remove any escaped crabgrass plants that have become stale before they can set seed.
Is Crabgrass Edible?
Although technically, grasses can be used as a forage crop, they are not the most delicious weeds. However, crabgrass can be used for livestock feed and its seeds can be harvested for food.
2. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Purslane is considered to be noxious in at most one U.S. state. Purslane is an annualsucculent and edible plant. Why is it considered so dangerous? It’s rich in vitamins and can even be grown in certain countries as a crop.
Answer: Purslane can produce more than 2,000,000 seeds per plant! It reproduces through tiny black seeds and small stem fragments in spring. In late spring it can also reproduce vegetatively through its leaf, which makes it difficult to eradicate. Many gardeners have seen purslane grow at its full potential after they plant it. If you don’t want to grow purslane yourself, consider how to manage it.
How To Control Purslane
This summer weed can be managed in gardens and home landscapes by hand-weeding. Purslane is a common weed to watch out for! This weed can grow in your soil for many years, so get rid of it as soon as possible.
Mulching can also be helpful, especially for garden beds. Organic mulches must be at least three inches thick to be effective. Also, synthetic mulches (plastic mulch or fabric mulch) work well. They screen out sunlight and act as a barrier to seedling growth. Plastics are preferable to fabric mulches which allow water and air to reach roots. In ornamental plants, synthetic mulches are often combined with organic or rock-mulchs.
Purslane is edible
You can eat purslane if it is young and tender, provided you don’t use any chemicals in your garden. Purslane is a nutritious powerhouse that can be added to salads or stir-fries. Find out more about purslane’s health benefits, and a recipe for it here.
3. Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)
Another edible weed! Lambsquarters, a summer annual that is fast-growing, is delicious when steamed, in salads, or juiced. The tender lambsquarters are worth saving. Otherwise, they can grow to be quite large and can become a problem weed. This annual summer broadleaf weed can be a problem for farms that grow sugar beets, vegetables, and pulse crops like chickpeas, dry edible beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Lambsquarters is an annual that grows very quickly. The seeds are small enough to be carried by wind over short distances. Sometimes, the seeds can survive in soil for decades. These weeds can quickly establish themselves and spread rapidly if the conditions are favorable.
How To Control Lambsquarters
This summertime weed quickly removes moisture from the soil. Get rid of it as soon as you can! Use a sharp hoe to cultivate lambsquarters in your garden.
Are Lambsquarters edible?
You can eat lambsquarters, provided you don’t use any chemicals in your garden. Their leaves are very high in beneficial nutrients. Young shoots and leaves can also be used in vegetable dishes, sauteed or steamed as spinach. Check out our post on Anytime Salad by natural health bloggers.
4. Pigweed (Amaranthus species spp. )
The title of most “problematic annual weed” goes to Pigweed. It is a strong competitor in broadleaf crops such as cotton and soybeans, thanks to its unique traits.
Pigweed is an annualweed which reproduces by seeds. It is distinguished by its fleshy red taproot. This weed likes warm weather and appears in late spring and early summer.
How To Control Pigweed
This weed should be removed before it blooms!
Pigweed is one example of a weed that needs light to germinate. Cover your garden with winter mulch to prevent future outbreaks of pigweed.
To keep the seeds from getting buried, you should only till very lightly in spring. You might get pigweed seed from tilling. It’s best to mulch once more. You can cover the soil with five layers with wet newspaper, and then add 3-6 inches of mulch.
Is Pigweed Edible?
Pigweed can also be eaten, but only when it is young and tender and in an area that has not been sprayed with pesticides. These greens can be used in salads, as they are rich in vitamins. They can be cooked in the same way as spinach. The black seeds of this plant were used by Native Americans as a ground food for baking.
5. Chickweed (Stellaria sp. & Cerastium spp. )
Common chickweed (Stellariamedia) is a winter plant that can be found in areas with good water. It is a source of pest and virus-causing insects.
Common chickweed can grow 800 seeds if it is grown without any competition. It can take up to 8 years for the plant to be eradicated. Chickweed thrives when it is kept cool and moist. This means that spring crops are often not as competitive. This can reduce your vegetable harvest.
Common chickweed forms dense mats that rarely grow higher than 2 inches. They have five white petals and are small. Common chickweed can grow in many soil types, but it thrives in soils that are neutral in pH and high in nitrogen. It does not grow well in low pH soils (acidic).
Annual chickweed is easy to manage, as long as it is pulled when the plant is young and before it flowers. It can be difficult to locate it in the very short time between germination, flower production. Be sure to closely monitor the situation and remove all traces of the weed.
This is a winter annual. So keep an eye on the soil for chickweed seedlings in late fall and winter, and then pull them out by hand or shallow cultivation. We would not recommend chemical control for this winter annual after spring.
A layer of mulch, such as wood chips, that is at least 2 inches thick, can reduce the number of weed seeds that germinate. It will limit light and act as a physical barrier. You can also use synthetic mulches like landscape fabrics. Landscaped areas should be covered with a layer of mulch (rock, bark) Black plastic can be used in vegetable gardens as a mulch, between rows and for transplants or seeds.
Chickweed can be eaten. The leaves, stems and flowers of chickweed can be eaten raw or cooked when young. Chickweed adds a subtle, spinach-like flavor to any dish. Chickweed can be used as a tonic or made into tea.
6. Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale).
We love dandelions’ bright yellow spring heads. This perennialweed forms rosettes with leaves that have yellow flower clusters at the centers. Even though dandelions are not a favorite food for bees, they can find them helpful. A lawn with dandelions can be beneficial for bees, but it is not as good as one that has a variety of plants.
Dandelions can also overtake any habitat, from your garden to your ornamentals and your grasses, in the future. Dandelions can also be sown by wind, and they can also reproduce vegetatively through tap roots. You can be sure that the roots will reemerge if you don’t cut them too deeply into the soil.
How To Control Dandelions
Hand-pulling or hoeing mature dandelions is difficult, especially if it’s done over a prolonged period of time. This is because of their deep tap root system. Young dandelions should be pulled by holding them by the base and gently wiggling. This will help to remove their taproots from the soil. You can also use a hand trowel or a shovel to remove them. You should remove all dandelion roots at once. Any pieces left in the ground will likely grow back.
A vigorous and competitive lawn can slow down the spread of dandelion pests. Dense turfgrass and ornamentals can shade the soil, which reduces the possibility of dandelion seedlings. While mowing can be used to control many broadleaf weeds, this is not the case with dandelion. Mowing won’t have any effect on controlling dandelion because it grows from a basal roseette, which is lower than the blade of a mower can reach.
Mulch made of bark or wood chips is best for a garden bed. They should be kept at least 3 inches deep and replaced as necessary. Mulching landscape fabrics with wood chips or bark can be very effective in controlling seedlings. It reduces the light that can reach the soil and helps to control them. To stop plant growth, use a black polypropylene (or polyester fabric) or a plastic tarp.
Before they can produce seed, solitary new dandelion plant should be removed from fence rows, roadside, and flower beds. Individual weeds can be removed with a Dandelion knife or similar tools. This will minimize soil disturbance. To ensure that the taproot is removed, keep an eye on the area for several weeks.
Are Dandelions Easible?
Yes! You can enjoy tender greens in salad if you cut the perennial’s leaves when they are young. Wild ones from spring are simply stunning! You can also eat the flowers raw, fried or made dandelion wines. Here are some dandelion recipes: Dandelion Recipes. Make sure you have plenty of dandelions to pollinate the plants.
7. Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Shepherd’s purse, a Brassica that is part of the Mustard family with cabbage, is actually a Brassica. After flowering, this annual produces seedpods with heart-shaped shapes. It prefers cool temperatures and the yellowish-brown seeds it produces are durable in the ground.
How to Control Shepherd’s Purse
You should be aware of its distinctive leaves and remove it by hand, before it starts to grow. Make sure you remove all roots.
Shepherd’s Purse is edible?
Shepherd’s purse seedpods, which are immature, heart-shaped seedpods, have a peppery flavor and can be used in moderation. Shepherd’s Purse has been used for centuries as a natural healing remedy. Not to be eaten: Intestinal problems can result from the consumption of mature seeds and leaves.
8. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
Wild violet and Creeping Charlie (ground Ivy) are both common on shady lawns. This perennial plant is native to Europe. It grows low to ground and kills everything around it. Bright green leaves are accompanied by stolons, creeping stems that run along the ground and have scalloped edges.
Creeping Charlie’s spread is what makes it so difficult. It spreads by both seeds and creeping stems. Even a small piece of the root can be regenerated as a new plant if you attempt to remove it.
How To Control Creeping Charlie
- Seeding grasses in shaded areas will increase the turf density and help stop this weed spreading.
- You should also ensure that you grow the best type of turfgrass for your location, such as shade-tolerant varieties or turfgrass under trees.
- You can improve soil drainage, or water less often to dry the soil.
- Regularly mow your lawn to a height of 2-3 1/2 inches, fertilize and water the plants appropriately, and supervise in the fall.
- If you see only a few plants, pull out Creeping Charlie with your hand. You can pull it out without breaking it, but it will eventually give up.
It can be difficult for creeping Charlie to remove the large spreading stems in heavily infested areas. You can cover weed mats with newspaper, tarp or cardboard for at least one week. After plants have been pulled, ensure that they are disposed of in a manner that prevents them from rerooting. Common herbicides don’t work.
Creeping Charlie is edible?
Creeping Charlie was used in beer brewing before mass hop cultivation. It is a member the mint family and has a slight minty taste. Medical herbalists often use it.
This list includes quackgrass and yellow nutsedge as well as Canada thistle and field bindweed. Although there are many other noxious plants out there, like Johnsongrass, these are the most prevalent.
9. Quackgrass (Elytrigia. repens)
Quackgrass, a persistent perennialgrass, is creeping and can be reproduced by seeds. The rhizomes are long and jointed and straw-colored. From this, new shoots might also emerge.
This fast-growing grass should be removed as soon as possible from your garden. Make sure you remove all roots and the entire plant. It will likely grow in the compost pile and not in your trash bin.
Quackgrass is edible?
10. Canada Thistle (Cirsium Arvense)
Canada thistle, a creeping perennial herb from Eurasia, is aggressive and can be quite destructive. It can infest crops, pastures, as well as non-crop areas such ditch banks and roadsides. Canada thistle can reduce forage consumption in rangelands and pastures, as cattle will not graze close to infestations.
This weed reproduces through seed and whitish creeping rootstocks that send out new shoots every 8-12 inches. The plants reach 2 to 4 feet in height and can be found growing in colonies. They reproduce sexually either from wind-blown seed or rhizomatous root systems (each part of the root system could give rise to new plants).
In mid- to late Spring, the plant will emerge from its roots and form rosettes. It will then produce shoots every 8-12 inches. Its purple flowers are visible in July and August.
How to Control Canada Thistle
Canada thistle can be difficult to control due to its deep roots system that allows it to quickly recover from previous attempts. Horizontal roots can grow up to 15 feet in length, while vertical roots can reach 6 to 15 inches deep. The soil may also retain the viability of seeds for up to 4 years.
Before they can be rooted, the first plants must be pulled or hoed. In the spring, look for Canada thistle high above the ground.
Canada thistle can be rooted by stressing it and forcing it to use the stored nutrients. The Canada thistle is at its weakest in the summer flowering stage. This is the best time to start cultivation and remove the rootstock and roots. A season of cultivation, followed by a year of growing competition crops like winter rye will make a big difference in eradicating the disease.
A approved herbicide can be applied for up to two years in an area with heavy thistle infestation. It is effective and only limited. A combination of several techniques is usually required. Talk to your cooperative extension office.
Canada is a Very Good Food!
Canada thistle can be eaten, but it is not as easy as you might think. The leaves can be made like spinach after the spines have been carefully removed. Although the stems are most valuable, their bristled exteriors should be removed first. Wear gloves
11. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
Field bindweed is an perennialvine which is hardy and can be found in many places, such as perennial or wild morning glory and creeping jenny. This noxious weed grows in late spring. It spreads quickly in warm weather.
Note – Bindweed IS NOT the same thing as the annual morning glory (in the genusIpomea ), which has a bigger (2-inch wide) flower and more heart-shaped leaves.
Field bindweed, an invasive weed from Eurasia is one of the most persistent. Its fast-growing root system can grow right through the roots other plants. Its roots can be found up to 14 feet deep! The plant is held in place by secondary vertical roots that form from its lateral roots. One field of bindweed plants can spread more than 10 feet radially in one growing season. This underground network is able to overwinter without the need for foliage and can last up to 50 years.
How To Control Bindweed
Unfortunately, tilling aids bindweed’s spread. New plants can be formed from fragments of rhizomes and vertical roots as small as 2 inches. Prevention or early intervention is the best way to control field bindweed. Field bindweed seedlings must be removed within three to four weeks of germination. The perennial buds form and it becomes almost impossible to obtain all the roots by the end of summer.
Each root fragment will become a new plant. Use a garden fork and carefully remove the root. You may need to remove other perennials or plants as bindweed can grow through their roots.
Some people don’t have the luxury of a year to keep their garden untouched. However, it is possible to organically kill bindweed by covering it with black plastic or old carpet. Make sure that the edges overlap. After the cover is removed, new bindweed plants could germinate from the soil. Keep an eye on the area for new seedlings and hand-weed if necessary.
This perennial weed is sometimes only controlled with herbicides. It’s more effective in large gardens than in small ones. Talk to your cooperative extension.
Is Bindweed Edible.
No. No. Do not consume.
12. Nutsedge (Cyperus spp. )
The perennial nutsedges look like grasses but are thicker, stiffer and more dense than grasses. Nutsedges have three sets of leaves from their base, instead of the two you’d find in grass leaves. These weeds are a major problem for vegetable crops as they can reduce yields. The yellow nutsedge is a light brown flower with small seeds. Purple nutsedge flowers are reddish-tinged and have dark brown seeds.
How To Control Nutsedge
It is often a sign that your soil drainage has become poor or waterlogged. It’s difficult to control nutsedge once it has established.
It is best to avoid weeds from ever being established. Small plants should be removed before they become tubers. Tubers are essential for nutsedge survival. You can control the nutsedge by limiting the production of tubers. Most herbicides don’t work against tubers.
Eliminate wet conditions that encourage nutsedge growth. Mulch can be used in landscape beds. Landscape fabrics make the best mulch because nutsedge’s sharp leaves can see through other mulches.
Is Nutsedge Edible?
Yellow nutsedge dates back to ancient Egypt. Its tubers have a sweet, nutty taste. Although purple nutsedge tubers can be eaten, they have a bitter, less pleasant taste.
13. Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Buckhorn plantain, also known as English plantain, is a common perennialweed that can be found in meadows and pastures. This narrow-leafed weed spreads through seeds.
How to Control Buckhorn Plantain
Buckhorn plantain can be difficult to remove manually because it is low-growing. The plant’s long taproot makes them drought-tolerant and is difficult to manage.
To remove this weed, you must be careful about picking up young plants and then destroying them before they go to seed. To prevent persistent problems from arising, learn how to identify young plants and how to spot them.
Preventative measures are also the best. Grow a dense stand of plants to shade the soil and stop new seeds from growing. There are approved herbicides that can be used to control buckhorn plantain. These can be sprayed in the fall. Talk to your cooperative extension.
Is Buckhorn Plantain Edible?
This weed can be eaten, particularly when it is young and tender. You can enjoy it raw, steamed or boiled.