The 7 Most Annoying Garden Weeds

Weeds unfortunately are part of gardening life. There are however some weeds which are more difficult to deal with than others. The following are the  most irritating weeds and how you can dispose of them for good.

1. Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)

Also known as: crab grass, polish millet, pigeon grass, finger grass and crowfoot grass

crabgrass on lawn

Identification

Crabgrass is a summer annual, and it is hard to identify because of its ability to adapt to the environment. They’re often confused with other weeds, so here’s a quick guide.

  • Crabgrass seedlings look like a corn plant, and the blade is about ¼ inches wide, as thick as a pencil. The thickness is its most identifiable trait as other garden weed leaf blades are very thin.
  • The blades  angle out of the stem.
  • Side shoots quickly appear from the seedlings.
  • The leaf blades drift apart as the crabgrass grows.
  • The branches or stems fall on the ground as the weed grows.

Habitat

Crabgrass is found in almost every state. This annual is also found in southern Canada. They are found on lawns, gardens, literally anywhere there is sunlight, soil and water.

Why is Crabgrass Bad?

Crabgrass is bad because it is steals nutrients from plants and lawn. Gardens full of crabgrass make it difficult for other plants to flourish. Crabgrass occupy large stalk space, making it the perfect hiding place for garden pests and vermin.

How to Kill Crabgrass

The first thing you should do is  get rid of dead crabgrass and replant empty lawn spots with new seed.

You can also use seed control to prevent crabgrass from spreading. During the summer, get a lawn rake and use on crabgrass. Using the rake, bring up the seed branches over the grass. Mow the lawn as soon as you’re done and make sure you’ve got a grass catcher.

You can also try this method as shown on the video:

Replant in the bare soil in early fall. That will give them lots of time to set before winter. Do not reseed during spring if you’re going to use a preemergent.

The simplest way to kill and prevent crabgrass is to use a preemergent, which is a product designed to inhibit crabgrass before it grows. Natural and chemical preemergent are both available.

The best time to use crabgrass preemergent is when the soil temperature is 55 to 60 F. Use a soil thermometer and measure the temperature at a depth of 2 inches. If the 55-60 F reading holds for a few days, then you can apply the preemergent.

Follow the instructions when using crabgrass preventers to avoid damaging other plants.

2. Dandelion (taraxacum)

lots of dandelions

Also Known as: Irish daisy, yellow gowan, telltime, swine’s snout, lion’s tooth, bitterwort

Identification

The dandelion is a perennial recognized for its rosette base which yields several leaves and flowering stems.

Its leaves have deep notches, toothy and hairless. They’re 2 to 10 inches long and have a rosette shape over the taproot.  They can reach up to 12 inches high. Unlike crabgrass, dandelion is very easy to spot.

Habitat

Dandelions can  be found virtually everywhere. Lawns, gardens, hillsides, fields, the deep woods and other locations.

Why is the Dandelion Bad?

Dandelions are a nuisance mainly because of their size. Its roots can expand up to 2 feet and eat up a lot of space. They’re brittle so if you try and pull it is likely to break off.

Its roots are deep and if you don’t remove it, the weed will regrow. When the dandelion flower matures, the wind may lift its seeds and scatter them in your garden where thousands of dandelions can sprout everywhere.

How to Kill Dandelions

close up several dandelionsDon’t use chemicals because it might kill the other plants near the dandelions. You may use the following methods instead.

Boiling Water: pour boiling water over its leaves. this will cause the leaves to turn yellowish, curl and die off.  The boiling water will also burn the roots which are linked to the plant. Without the roots the dandelion won’t be able to survive.

Salt: put salt in the area where the dandelions are. The salt will remain the soil for years and no dandelion will grow. The drawback is no other grass will grow there either.

Vinegar: just pour vinegar over the dandelions. Unlike salt, vinegar will not affect the soil so plants can still grow in the area.

You can also deter dandelions from growing by having a thick lawn, as it won’t leave any room for dandelions to grow.

3. Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon)

Also Known as: devil’s grass, Bahama grass, scutch grass, wiregrass, INdian doab, Dhoob

Identification

close up bermudagrassThis perennial has a green-gray color and are .7 to 5.9 inches long. The stem has a purple color and flattened slightly. Its seed head spikes are in clusters of six, with each spike 0.8 to 2 inches long. The stem can reach up to 11.8 inches high.

Habitat

Bermudagrass is found throughout the US, in particular the southern area. It is found in more than 100 countries and is prevalent in India, Africa and South America. It is widespread on lawns, gardens, tropical and subtropical locations.

Why is Bermudagrass Bad?

Bermudagrass is not without good points: it is used in playgrounds, parks, sport venues and golf courses. The problem is Bermudagrass is very aggressive and once in place, hard to get rid of.

Bermudagrass has a tendency to go all over the other plants in your lawn. It can cause damage to crop seeds and ruin other plants and flowers around it. 

How to Kill Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is very persistent but there are several methods you can use to try and get rid of it.

bermudgrass with taller weedsSolarization: this method is most effective during the summer and is going to kill both surface and underground Bermudagrass. Water the Bermudagrass then place a plastic tarp over the lawn. Put rocks on the tarp edges.

The sun’s ray will pierce through the tarp. It’s going to kill the Bermudagrass and all plants under the tarp. Remove the tarp after four weeks. You can let the dead grass decompose or remove it.

Mulching: mulching enriches the soil and gets rid of Bermudagrass. Just put landscape over the area and put wood bark over it, about 8 inches. Leave it there for four weeks then remove the fabric.

Cultivation: Bermudagrass does not handle dry condition as well as other weeds. During the summer, dig up the lawn and break it up. Uproot the Bermudagrass and disturb the soil down to half a foot. Let the roots and grass dry out for two weeks. Repeat two or three times to kill all the Bermudagrass.

Herbicide: some herbicides can be used on Bermudagrass. Thi is quick and effective, but it could have residual effects on other plants. Look for one that has glyphosat as it is mild and allows you to grow in that site again.

4. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Also Known as: possession vine, leli, perennial morning glory, withy wind, European bindweed

Identification

Its leaves are arranged spirally, with the shape ranging arrowhead .7 to 2 inches long. Its flowers are pale pink, white or dark pink. It produces an edible, round fruit 1.9 inches in diameter.

As a climbing vine, you will notice its presence when thin vines are all over your other plants and walls.

Habitat

BindweedBindweed grows in lawns, gardens, poor soil, hedgerows, pastures and abandoned fields. They’re also found on grapevines and grows on other plants.

Why is Bindweed Bad?

Bindweed is a nuisance because it grows quickly and chokes out other plants. It has very thick mats which affect crop yields and damage plant.  Left on its own, bindweed robs other plants of nutrients, moisture and sunlight. Bindweed also kills other grasses.

How to Kill Bindweed

Hand pulling and tilling can work. You can also plant squash, melons, pumpkins and thorny plant vines to prevent bindweed from growing. While it will kill bindweed they won’t damage other plants.

Shading is also effective in controlling bindweed. Mulching with black plastic, wood chips, straw and paper are all effective.

close up of bindweed's flowersPouring boiling water also helps, and there are also chemical treatments which are formulated to eliminate bindweed. Both methods are ideal only if the area has been infested, because both methods will affect the other plants.

If you want to use boiling water, just pour it over the plants. Pour 2 to 3 feet from where the bindweed is so the water destroys the roots as well. If you are using an anti-bindweed solution, apply it on the weed.

The best way to prevent bindweed from growing is to be aggressive with your planting. Plant in your garden and bindweed will have a hard time growing. Plants that spread out are effective, and lawn dethatching is also a great way to keep bindweed away.

5. Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Also Known as: common chickweed, winterweed, maruns, craches, chickenwort

Identification

chickweed being heldChickweed is an annual plant which have a maximum length of 15 inches. The stems are weak with very little hair. The leaves on the lower area have stalks and they’re all oval.

Chickweed flowers are white with vine petals each lobed deeply, with the seed pods following closely. There are many weeds similar to chickweed, but you can tell chickweed from the rest because its fine hairs are only on one side.

Habitat

Chickweed is often found in waste locations, gardens and fields. They are found throughout the United States, Asia and Europe.

Why is Chickweed Bad?

Chickweed is bad because they spread quickly and can run over your other plants. They are very hard to control and competes with your other plants for nutrients. Whether you’re a farmer or trying to maintain a garden, chickweed just makes things more difficult.

How to Kill Chickweed

chickweed on the groundThe most effective way is to use a lawn weed control product. There are many products like these available and you can use them to kill chickweed and feed other plants simultaneously.

Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn is another way to keep chickweed at bay. The presence of other plants will keep the chickweed at bay. Fertilizing and mulching also helps a lot.

You can also use the old grab and pull method. Chickweed is easy to identify, so find as many as you can and pull them out by hand. Chickweed has shallow roots so hand pulling or hoeing can do the job. It’s better to remove the entire plant so they don’t regrow.

You’ll also want to aerate your lawn as it helps keep chickweed away. The bottom line is a well-maintained garden will go far in terms of keeping your garden free from chickweed and other weeds.

6. Ragweed (ambrosia)

Also Known as: burrobrushes, bursages

Identification

tall ragweedsRagweeds are perennial and annual shrubs and herbs. The stems are erect with alternately arranged leaves. The leaf blades are in various forms and shapes, with toothed or smooth edges.

Some ragweeds are just a few inches high or reach several feet depending on the  species. The edges are usually glandular and most are hairy. There are 50 different species of ragweed.

Habitat

Ragweed can be found throughout the Americas especially the tropical and subtropical areas in North America. They are most prevalent in northwestern Mexico and the southeastern US.  The weed is also spreading throughout Europe. The weeds grow along roadsides, vacant lots, fields and gardens.

Why is Ragweed Bad?

Ragweed generates pollen which can trigger allergies such as scratchy throats, itchy eyes and sneezing. Ragweed also deprives other plants of nutrients, moisture and sunlight.

How to Kill Ragweed

There are herbicides and chemicals which kill ragweed. Be careful when using chemicals and use only as directed to avoid damaging other plants nearby.

Herbicides like glyphosate are effective against ragweed. The best time to apply herbicides is during early summer or the middle of spring. Ragweeds are still small and they are easier to get rid of.

ragweed fieldManual pulling also works. You should wear gloves when pulling large ragweed, and make sure to take out the roots as well. Pulling ragweeds out on a weekly basis is easier as it doesn’t give them time to establish.

Repeated chopping and hoeing is suited for garden beds and vegetable gardens. Hoeing is particularly effective for young ragweed. Kill any new growth immediately and ragweed will stop.

If ragweeds grow in mowable areas on your lawn, mow them away. Mow every two weeks for the best results Don’t worry if you only cut half the weeds as they will weaken.

With repeated mowing the weeds will die. Mowing also keeps these plants from spreading seeds and pollens.

7. Poison Ivy (toxicodendron radicans)

Also Known as: eastern poison ivy

Identification

Poison ivy can vary in appearance, but usually they emerge as a low shrub or ground cover. Some develop into vines and go up trees.

poison ivy highlightedThe leaves are green and each cluster has three. Appearance can be glossy or dull but the tips are always pointed. The vine roots also give poison ivy a hair, fuzzy look.

The easiest way to identify poison ivy is to look for the following:

  • The three leaf cluster
  • Leaves are arranged alternately
  • No thorns
  • Each of the leaflet cluster has its own stem which is linked to the main vine

Habitat

Poison ivy is a flowering plant found throughout North America and Asia. It is found on every state except Hawaii and Alaska, and it is most prevalent in the midwest and eastern states. Poison ivy grows in every continent but is most widespread in the US.

You will find poison ivy on edges, small shrubs, stumps, trees and ground cover.

Why is Poison Ivy Bad?

Poison ivy is poisonous and is the reason for Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. Contact with poison ivy causes irritating, itchiness and sometimes the rash is painful too It is also invasive and is a difficult weed to remove if left untreated.

How to Kill Poison Ivy

Allergic reaction to poison ivy can lead to anaphylaxis, and more than 350,000 people in the US are affected by it yearly. There are however, ointments and over the counter treatments for poison ivy available.

close up poison ivyBuy an herbicide that is formulated for poison ivy. Spray the formula on the poison ivy leaves until they’re wet. The best time to spray is during a calm, warm day. For thick leaves, chop them and spray them.

If the poison ivy has spread into tree stumps, cut them off near the ground. Make 4 holes in the stump and pour poison ivy herbicide in there.

Do not burn poison ivy because they have fumes and could cause respiratory issues.

Make sure you’re wearing gloves when removing poison ivy. Your clothes should cover your skin. Once you have disposed of the poison ivy, dispose of the poison ivy properly.

Clean your clothes and tools with soapy water.

Make certain you’ve got poison ivy treatment nearby just in case. If your skin gets into contact with the weed, wash it with cold water. Pour alcohol and apply medication. If the symptoms don’t improve, consult your doctor. 

Laurie S.

As a multi home owner for 15 years I've tried out a ton of pool products and methods and have found out the best ones that work for me. I love helping out other people with real, honest advice and spending time with my family. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me in the about or through a comment.

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