Weed Identification Guide

Don't let weeds rob your garden of its beauty. Use our guide to help you identify and control these troublesome pests.


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Oxalis
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Dandelion

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: 12 inches tall, 6 - 16 inches wide

    Where it grows: Lawns and gardens in sun or shade

    Appearance: Strong taproot; leaves are deeply notched. Yellow flowers mature to puffballs.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide in lawns.

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Oxalis

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: To 20 inches tall

    Where it grows: Sunny or shady landscape, lawn, or garden areas

    Appearance: Light green leaves that look like clover and cup-shape yellow flowers in summer and fall

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide in spring or fall.

    Note: The leaves are edible in small quantities and have a sharp, sour taste. They can be harmful if eaten in large amounts.

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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: Grassy plant; grows roots anywhere the stem makes soil contact; seed heads spread out like four fingers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in lawns; pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective post-emergence herbicide.

    Note: Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds.

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Bindweed

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: Climbs 6 feet or more

    Where it grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun

    Appearance: Arrowhead-shape leaves on twining vines; bears white to pale pink morning glory-type flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent; repeatedly chop down growing plants and/or treat with post-emergence herbicide.

    Note: Wandering roots produce offspring 20 - 30 feet from the mother vine.

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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: Three-lobe leaves frame round white flower clusters.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in landscape areas; use a post-emergence herbicide in lawns or hand-pull.

    Note: Clover adds nitrogen to the soil so as far as weeds go, this one is moderately helpful.

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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: Shiny, grassy leaves; nutlike tubers on the root system.

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide containing MSMA.

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Creeping Charlie

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: 4 inches tall, several feet wide

    Where it grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

    Appearance: Groundcover with scalloped leaves and clusters of purple flowers in late spring.

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide in spring or fall.

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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: Scalloped leaves have gray undersides.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide.

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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: Broad, flat leaves around a low rosette.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide in lawns.

    Note: Each plant can produce more than 15,000 seeds.

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Dayflower

    Type: Annual grass relative

    Size: To 30 inches tall and wide

    Where it grows: Sunny or shady landscape areas

    Appearance: Dark green leaves clasping a stem and brilliant blue flowers through summer.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective post-emergence herbicide.

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Purslane

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 2 feet wide

    Where it grows: Dry, sunny landscape and garden areas

    Appearance: Groundcover with fleshy, dark green leaves and small yellow flowers at the ends of the stems.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in the spring; pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective post-emergence herbicide.

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Wild Violet

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: 6 inches tall, 6 inches wide

    Where it grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

    Appearance: Groundcover with heart-shape leaves and purple flowers in late spring.

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide in spring or fall.

    Note: This plant is often grown as an ornamental in shade gardens.

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Smartweed

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: To 42 inches tall and 30 inches wide

    Where it grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

    Appearance: Upright plant with pink or white flowers in summer and fall and lance-shape leaves often marked with purple chevrons.

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or apply a post-emergence herbicide once it grows.

    Note: This weed is native to areas of North America. Unlike many exotic weeds, it does support wildlife.

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Quickweed

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Where it grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

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

    Control: Use a mulch or a pre-emergence herbicide in spring to prevent it. If plants do grow, pull them by hand or spot-treat them with a post-emergence herbicide.

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Pigweed

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide

    Where it grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

    Appearance: Tall plants with a taproot; hairy-looking clusters of green flowers.

    Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide.

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Canada Thistle

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Where it grows: Sunny lawn, landscape, or garden areas

    Appearance: Spiny, gray-green leaves and purple flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in landscape areas; use a post-emergence herbicide in lawns in spring or fall. Or dig it out by hand.

    Note: Thistle has an extensive root system that can grow several feet out from the main plant.

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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: Groundcover with blue-green leaves sparsely appearing on long stems.

    Control: Prevent it with a deep layer of mulch or apply a pre-emergence herbicide in spring. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with an herbicide.

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Pokeweed

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: To 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Where it grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

    Appearance: Light green leaves with clusters of white flowers and dark purple berries.

    Control: Prevent it with a deep layer of mulch. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with an herbicide.

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Poison Ivy

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: To 15 feet tall and wide

    Where it grows: Sunny or shady landscape or garden areas

    Appearance: Vine, shrub, or groundcover with leaves divided into three leaflets; clusters of green berries.

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

    Note: 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.

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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: Bushy or climbing plant with white or purple flowers and purple or red fruits.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; pull by hand or treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

    Note: All parts of this plant, including the fruits, are poisonous.

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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: Clover-type leaves and small, yellow flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide. Discourage it by keeping soil well watered and amended with organic matter (such as compost).

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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: Wheatlike flower spikes appear above slender clumps of grassy foliage.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; dig plants out by hand, being sure to remove every bit of root.

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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: Produces large, wavy-edge leaves and large seed heads covered with brown seeds.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; pull and dig up plants or treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

    Note: Each plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds that wait decades before sprouting.

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Henbit

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: To 12 inches tall and wide

    Where it grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun or shade

    Appearance: Low, creeping plant with scallop-edge leaves and purple flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens or use pre-emergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or treat in lawns with a broadleaf, post-emergence herbicide.

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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: Slender leaves, borne on an upright stem that branches. It produces puffy white to pale lavender daisies.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

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Nettle

    Type: Broadleaf perennial

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Where it grows: Garden areas with rich, moist soil

    Appearance: Sawtooth-edge leaves and yellowish flower clusters are covered with stinging hairs.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; dig out plants or treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

    Note: Always wear gloves when working around this plant.

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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 form dense mats.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens or use a pre-emergence herbicide in lawns; pull plants when young or spot-treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

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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: Lush green mats studded with small, star-shape flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens or use a pre-emergence herbicide in early spring; pull plants by hand.

    Note: Each plant can produce more than 15,000 seeds.

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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: Prickly leaves off of tall stems topped by heavy 2-inch purple flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; use a post-emergence herbicide or dig it out.

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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: Finely cut green leaves are almost ferny.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; use a post-emergence herbicide or pull it out by hand.

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Yellow Sweet Clover

    Type: Broadleaf annual

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

    Where it grows: Landscape and garden areas

    Appearance: Lanky branches; clover-like leaves; fragrant yellow flowers.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spot-treat a post-emergence herbicide.

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Velvetleaf

    Type: Broadleaf annual

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Where it grows: Fertile, sunny landscape and garden areas

    Appearance: Large, velvety heart-shape leaves up to 10 inches across; yellow flowers in summer.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it or use a pre-emergence herbicide in spring; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide.

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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: Gray-green leaves; yellow flowers are followed by large puffballs.

    Control: Mulch to prevent it; pull plants by hand or treat with a post-emergence herbicide.

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