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.
Weed Identification Guide Weed Identification Guide

We get it. Weeds are obnoxious and hard to eliminate. Use our guide to identify the common varieties and know how to remove them safely. 

Need help now? See our video on how to control weeds in the garden.  

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.

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

Oxalis 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

Grass Weed Control Tip: 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.

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

Weed Control Tip: 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.

Video: Weeding Tips Video: Weeding Tips

Watch this video for tips on how to effectively get rid of the pesky weeds in your yard.

Bindweed Bindweed

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: Climbs 6 feet or more

Where it grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun

Idnetify Weeds: 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

Creeping Charlie 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.

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: Scalloped leaves have gray undersides.

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

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: 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.

Dayflower 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.

Purslane 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.

Velvetleaf 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.

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

Wild Violet 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.

Smartweed 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.

Quickweed 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.

Pigweed 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

Pokeweed 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

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: 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).

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: 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

Nettle 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.

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 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

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: Finely cut green leaves are almost ferny.

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

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

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

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: 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.