Weed Identification Guide

What is a Weed, Anyway?

What is a Weed, Anyway?

A weed can be any plant growing where you don’t want it to, but there are some particularly weedy species to keep an eye out for. These aggressive plants choke out the garden plants you’ve worked so hard to grow. Use this handy guide to identify weeds by photo and know how to best remove them.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 12 inches tall, 6 – 16 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawns and gardens in sun or shade

Appearance: This common lawn weed has a strong taproot; leaves are deeply notched. Yellow flowers mature to puffballs. Dandelion seeds are like parachutes that fly away in the wind—they’re the plants that you would blow on and “make a wish” when you were younger.

Lawn Weed Control Tip: Mulch to prevent dandelions in gardens. Pull dandelion weeds by hand or use a postemergence herbicide (designed for use on weeds after they appear) in lawns. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

  • Tips on Caring for Your Yard
Oxalis

Oxalis

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 20 inches tall

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape, lawn, or garden areas

Appearance: This garden weed has light green leaves that look like clover and cup-shape yellow flowers in summer and fall.

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent weeds. Pull oxalis weeds by hand or spray weeds with a postemergence herbicide in spring or fall.

Test Garden Tip: The leaves of oxalis are edible in small quantities and have a sharp, sour taste. However, plants should not be eaten if they have been treated with pesticide. The plant can be harmful if eaten in large amounts.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

  • Identifying and Controlling Common Garden Pests
Crabgrass

Crabgrass

Type: Grassy annual

Size: To 18 inches tall and 20 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: 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.

Control: Mulch your lawn to prevent crabgrass or use a preemergence herbicide; pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective postemergence herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds, so this lawn weed can spread quickly.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Bindweed

Bindweed

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: Climbs 6 feet or more

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its arrowhead-shape leaves on twining vines. Bindweed also produces white to pale pink morning glory-type flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent bindweed. Repeatedly chop down growing bindweed plants and/or treat with a postemergence herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: Wandering roots produce offspring 20-30 feet from the mother vine.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

White Clover

White Clover

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 8-10 inches tall, 12 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun to partial shade

Appearance: White clover has three-lobe leaves frame round white flower clusters.

Control: Mulch your garden beds to prevent white clover in landscape areas. Use a postemergence herbicide in lawns or hand-pull the weeds.

Test Garden Tip: Clover adds nitrogen to the soil so as far as weeds go, this one is moderately helpful.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Nutsedge

Nutsedge

Type: Grassy perennial

Size: 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, or garden areas with moist soil in sun or shade

Appearance: Nutsedge has grassy leaves and nutlike tubers on the root system.

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent nutsedge. Pull plants by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 4 inches tall, several feet wide

Where It Grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Identify this lawn weed and groundcover by its scalloped leaves and clusters of purple flowers in late spring.

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent creeping charlie. Pull plants by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide in spring or fall.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Lamb's-Quarter

Lamb’s-Quarter

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 4 feet tall and 18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: Lamb’s-quarter’s scalloped leaves have gray undersides to them.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent lamb’s-quarter. Pull weed plants by hand or use a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Plantain

Plantain

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Where It Grows: Moist lawn and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: When you’re identifying weeds in your garden, to spot plantains, look for broad, flat leaves around a low rosette.

Control: Mulch to prevent plantains from growing in the garden. Pull these weeds by hand or use a postemergence herbicide in lawns.

Test Garden Tip: Each plantain plant can produce more than 15,000 seeds.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Dayflower

Dayflower

Type: Annual grass relative

Size: To 30 inches tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape areas

Appearance: Dayflowers have dark green leaves sprouting from a stem and brilliant blue flowers through the summer.

Control: Mulch the garden to prevent weeds or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull weeds by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Purslane

Purslane

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 6 inches tall and 2 feet wide

Where it grows: Dry, sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Identify this weed groundcover by its fleshy, dark green leaves and small yellow flowers at the ends of the stems.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent purslane or use a preemergence herbicide in the spring. Pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Velvetleaf

Velvetleaf

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Where It Grows: Fertile, sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Velvetleaf gets its name after its large, velvety heart-shape leaves up to 10 inches across. The weed blooms with yellow flowers in summer.

Weed Control: Mulch your garden to prevent velvetleaf or use a preemergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or use a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Wild Violet

Wild Violet

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 6 inches tall, 6 inches wide

Where It Grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Wild violet is a groundcover with heart-shape leaves and purple flowers in late spring.

Control: Mulch garden beds in spring to prevent wild violet. Pull weeds by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide in spring or fall.

Test Garden Tip: Not always considered a weed, this plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental in shade gardens. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Smartweed

Smartweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 42 inches tall and 30 inches wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Identify garden weeds like smartweed by its lance-shape leaves often marked with purple chevrons. It’s an upright plant with pink or white flowers in summer and fall.

Control: To prevent this weed, mulch garden beds in spring. Pull plants by hand or apply a postemergence herbicide once it grows.

Test Garden Tip: This weed is native to areas of North America. Unlike many exotic weeds, it does support local wildlife.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Quickweed

Quickweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Quickweed has jagged, hairy leaves and small white daisy-shape flowers in summer.

Control: Use a mulch or a preemergence herbicide in spring to prevent quickweed. If plants do grow, pull them by hand or spot-treat them with a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Pigweed

Pigweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide

Where it grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Pigweeds are tall plants with a taproot. Identify weeds by their hairy-looking clusters of green flowers (though some varieties are grown as annuals).

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent pigweed or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull weeds by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Canada thistle has spiny, gray-green leaves and purple flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent it in landscape areas. Use a postemergence herbicide in lawns in spring or fall, or dig the weed out by hand.

Test Garden Tip: Thistle has an extensive root system that can grow several feet out from the main plant.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Knotweed

Knotweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 8 inches tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or partly shaded lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Knotweed is an invasive groundcover with blue-green leaves sparsely appearing on long stems.

Control: Prevent knotweed with a deep layer of mulch or apply a preemergence herbicide in spring. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with an herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its light green leaves, clusters of white flowers, and dark purple berries.

Control: Prevent pokeweed with a deep layer of mulch. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with an herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 15 feet tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Poison ivy can be a vine, shrub, or groundcover. The weed has leaves divided into three leaflets and can sprout clusters of green berries.

Control: Prevent poison ivy with a deep layer of mulch. If the weed starts to grow in your yard, spot-treat it with an herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: The plant contains oils that cause a severe allergic skin reaction in many people when touched. These oils are present even on dead leaves and can become airborne and inhaled if the plant is burned. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Black Nightshade

Black Nightshade

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 2 feet tall, 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Landscape or garden areas with rich soil in sun or shade

Appearance: Black nightshade can be a bushy or climbing plant with white or purple flowers and purple or red fruits.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent black nightshade. Pull the weed by hand or treat with a postemergence herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: All parts of this plant are poisonous (including the fruits).Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Black Medic

Black Medic

Type: Broadleaf annual or short-lived perennial

Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1 foot wide

Where It Grows: Poor, dry, soil in full sun

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its clover-type leaves and small, yellow flowers.

Control: Mulch to prevent black medic in gardens. Pull weeds by hand or use a postemergence herbicide. Discourage it by keeping the soil well-watered and amended with organic matter (such as compost). Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Quackgrass

Quackgrass

Type: Grassy perennial

Size: To 3 feet tall and several feet wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: This garden weed has wheatlike flower spikes, which appear above slender clumps of grassy foliage.

Control: Mulch your garden prevent quackgrass. Dig plants out by hand, being sure to remove every bit of root.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Dock

Dock

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: Dock produces large, wavy-edge leaves and large seed heads covered with brown seeds.

Control: Mulch to prevent dock. Pull and dig up plants or treat with a postemergence herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: Each plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds that wait decades before sprouting.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Henbit

Henbit

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 12 inches tall and wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: This lawn weed is a low, creeping plant with scallop-edge leaves and purple flowers.

Control: Mulch to prevent henbit in gardens or use preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull plants by hand or treat in lawns with a broadleaf, postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Fleabane

Fleabane

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun to partial shade

Appearance: Fleabane has slender leaves attached to an upright, branching stem. It produces puffy white to pale lavender daisies.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent fleabane or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Nettle

Nettle

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Where It Grows: Garden areas with rich, moist soil

Appearance: This garden weed has sawtooth-edge leaves and yellowish flower clusters covered with stinging hairs.

Control: Mulch to prevent nettle. Dig out weeds or treat with a postemergence herbicide.

Test Garden Tip: Always wear gloves when working around this plant (the sharp hairs can irritate skin).Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Prostrate Spurge

Prostrate Spurge

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 3 inches tall, 18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas with dry soil

Appearance: Green or purple-blushed leaves of prostrate spurge form dense mats.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent prostrate spurge or use a preemergence herbicide in lawns. Pull weeds when young or spot-treat with a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Chickweed

Chickweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 6 inches tall, 12 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, garden, and landscape areas with rich, moist soil in sun or shade

Appearance: This garden and lawn weed creates lush green mats studded with small, star-shape flowers.

Control: Mulch to prevent chickweed in gardens or use a preemergence herbicide in early spring. Pull weeds by hand.

Test Garden Tip: Each plant can produce more than 15,000 seeds.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Musk Thistle

Musk Thistle

Type: Broadleaf biennial

Size: To 6 feet tall and 18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in full sun

Appearance: Musk thistle has prickly leaves growing off of tall stems topped by heavy 2-inch purple flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent musk thistle. Use a postemergence herbicide or dig the weed out yourself.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Ragweed

Ragweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun or partial shade

Appearance: Ragweed grows finely cut green leaves that are almost fern-like.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent ragweed. Use a postemergence herbicide or pull it out by hand.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Yellow Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 1-3 feet tall, 12-18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its lanky branches, clover-like leaves, and fragrant yellow flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent yellow sweet clover. Pull plants by hand or spot-treat a postemergence herbicide.Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Yellow Salsify

Yellow Salsify

Type: Broadleaf biennial or short-lived perennial

Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Spot yellow salsify by its gray-green leaves. Yellow flowers on the plant are followed by large puffballs.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent yellow salsify. Pull plants by hand or treat them with a postemergence herbicide. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

2 thoughts on “Weed Identification Guide

  1. Down here we have a number of the same weeds, they arrived with the first settlers from England, later some came from Sth Africa, and the Middle East. Indigenous plants are not a problem here, so it’s very sad the settlers ruined it by introducing weeds.

    Like

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