Weed identification is a skill that every gardener ought to learn. It’s a very useful skill for a gardener to have. Another skill that’s useful is weed-control.

A lot of weeds out there can be identified with ease, and though some are one gardener’s weed, they might be another gardener’s flower.

these are pretty looking weeds

There are literally numerous puzzling weeds that I scratch my head about every week in the garden. The annual weed is finished at the end of the growing season.

This type does produce the greatest quantity of seeds but will not come back if the top growth is destroyed. On the other hand the pesky perennial weeds, found through weed identification, are sustain and propagated by other means with creeping vines, rhizomes, bulbs and other various plant parts.

This type of weed calls for repeated weed control methods as described in my weed control article.

Weed Identification Broadleaf Plantain

This weed has a shallow and fibrous root for a perennial. I battle this weed every season specifically in my lawn. The leaves are large and somewhat oval in configuration with very prevalent veins.

The big season for this weed is June through September. Weed identification of this plant is easy and it spreads quite quickly by seed and shoots from the roots. This weed can be found through the United States.

Broadleaf Plantain can be removed by hand or with a small spade or hoe. The problem with this method is you must assure that you got the entire root. Pulling these weeds out by hand I might add is quite difficult because they do have a tight grip on the soil even though shallow.

Mowing them closely will help in the prevention of seed formation and assist the less spreading of the weed. You have to maintain a good dense turf as broadleaf plantain uses shade as its spreading weapon. This makes it very important that no open spaces develop in your turf. The best herbicide I found that is very effective is “Weed Be Gon” by Ortho.

a bottle of weed b gon by ortho

This is easy to use as it can be hooked to your hose thus relieving you of the task of mixing the stuff. It took several applications because I had a real infestation but the broadleaf plantain turned black and ugly.

This is where patience comes to play you should wait until the weed has totally disappeared and fertilize that area several times and the lawn grows in and as the bottle says “weed Be Gon”.

It will not harm your lawn but I would be careful not to spray any flowering plants because it could cause burn damage or wipe them out.

Weed Identification of Crabgrass

Crabgrass Weed identification here should be easy because this is a universal weed. This ferociously spreading weed is annual and has a germination period when the soil reaches a consistently 55 degrees F.

It is usually killed by the first frost but not before it plays havoc with your garden. My advice is not to seed or aerate when the soil and other conditions are suitable for the germination of crabgrass.

You might try a raised mowing height in hopes that the shade will keep the crabgrass from the sunlight and cause it not to germinate. Conversely when the crabgrass is going to seed you should drop the mowing height and collect the clippings to prevent any further seed from becoming established.

Your best prevention here is to quickly establish your weed identification and purchase some grandular crabgrass preventor. This should really be applied prior to any germination like early or late May or even earlier in some locations.

I have used “Weed Be Gon” on crabgrass after emergence but it is not as effective as I would like it to be.

Weed Identification of the Dandelion

the dandelion weed

Now here is a paradoxical weed, the Dandelion. This weed identification is simple but its uses are interesting. My mother collected the dandelion leaves as a tender plant.

Older leaves get strong, mixed them up with white gravy bacon or chip beef gravy and it would be a vegetable for dinner. My husband’s father used it to make dandelion wine and served it with a meal.

There will be an opportunity at the bottom of this page to offer any uses or recipes you know for this plant that is another gardener’s p1esky weed but maybe a vegetable to some.

If you’re not interested in favoring your palate with this weed and its yellow flowers, then you can attempt to manually remove the dandelion. These are tough weeds though. Go deep into the ground making it almost impossible to acquire the entire root.

Purchase yourself a dandelion digging tool which is designed to get the entire root with minimal damage to your turf. The really tough thing about this weed is its ability to spread the seeds by means of the wind. It is good to do an early inspection for weed identification so that action can commence quickly.

You may have to enlist your neighbor in this endeavor by bribing him or her with a nice cold beer to keep their area free of these weeds. I did have good luck here with “Weed Be Go” It destroyed all of them in the path of my spray. It is much easier than digging them out. Of course other herbicides exist for the same purpose.

Weed Identification Field Bindweed

Field bindweed is a summer perennial and it belongs in the same category as a morning glory. Here again we have a weed identification that could be one gardener’s delight with pretty white flowers and another tearing their hair our because of its invasive nature.

The problem with this weed is its large root system which can run for fifteen feet underground. It is found mainly in rich and sandy soils. My observation is that it tends to be a bigger problem in the Western United States.

I am going to advise you not to let this stuff gain a foothold in your flower garden because it will wind and snake through all of your plants. It is extremely difficult to keep under control because of the huge root system.

You will need to go to your local garden shop and ask about a broadleaf herbicide to combat this guy. This weed will no doubt require you to do multiple applications to completely rid your garden or lawn of this pesky weed.

The more rapidly weed identification can be made the better off you will be in the garden.

Weed Identification Weedy Geranium

No this is not your favorite geranium plant that produces those beautiful flowers but a nasty weed. Weed identification here can sometimes be difficult and be mistaken for an emerging flower and even resembles parsley a little bit at a quick glance.

It does produce 5 white or pink petals in a tight little cluster. The problem I have found with this weed is it is almost impossible to pull out. This is especially true in hard clay soil.

It has the tendency to allow the pulling of the above ground growth but leaving the stub of the plant and its root system intact. The best bet is to dig them out making it even tougher if they are growing in your lawn and not your garden.

It will require careful digging so as not to remove too much of the turf in the process. I have only ever dug them out, but I am sure there is a herbicide ready and willing to assist you. I would not use it until the plant is actively growing and to the flower stage of growth.

Weed Identification Purslane

I know you have seen purslane weed in your garden because it likes to resemble a jade plant. It makes weed identification a little more difficult. The stems are thick red and multi branched and they root at the nodes wherever they are in contact with the soil.

some purslane weed in my garden

This weed tends to form a mat and is common to soil that has been disturbed, new seedlings, especially sidewalk crevices and mulched planting beds. This is where I found this weed to be residing in my garden. It enjoys the sunlight warmth and moisture provided by the mulch.

The purslane reproduces by seeds that are contained in a capsule which flips open in the spring and drops the seeds into the soil. The flower is solitary and yellow in color and will only open with sunny conditions.

Here again we have a medicinal herb which at one time was used to treat dysentery, headaches, and stomach pains back over 2000 years. It was also used as a salad green. This plant was used extensively by the Chinese, French, Italians and the English.

When attempting to eliminate this weed make sure you get rid of all stem fragments as it will reproduce from this debris. Purslane can become a problem in a newly seeded area both grassy and a flower garden.

The best time to control this plant is with a broadleaf herbicide in the seedling stage while actively growing and prior to the flowering. I found them rather easy to pull, even in clay soil, making sure I left no stems behind.

Weed Identification Curly Dock

Curly Dock is another weed identification problem. This is a winter perennial. It is the proud owner of a very deep tap root in the neighborhood of a dandelion. In the grassy area of your lawn it appears in a rosette form.

The flower is not found in mowed grassy areas but the plant itself will continue to grow in the grass. When the plant has a flower it is identified by long green spikes which turn reddish brown as the plant ages. The plant itself can obtain a height of two to three feet from April to July.

The curly dock can easily be removed by physical force as long as you get at least two-thirds of the tap root. This I believe would be a difficult if not impossible thing to determine.

Therefore I would opt to dig them out making sure I retrieved the entire tap root. If you have a large invasion of this weed, it may require the use of herbicide to rid the area of the plant. In this case I would consult with your local garden shop.

Weed Identification White Clover

The weed identification of this plant is fairly easy. White clover is found throughout the country and is a very shallow winter perennial. It spreads by above ground runners and then takes root, like similar vines, at the nodes where the vine touches the ground.

white clover weed

This particular weed is another that can really become a nuisance in a flower garden. It becomes so heavy and thick, and with 20-40 flowers along one area of the stem, it actually diminishes the real beauty of other flowers you may have planted.

It is not advisable to physically remove or use a shovel or some other mechanical instrument because of leaving behind stems which could make your problem worse. White clover adapts very well to soils but grows best where it is moist and very little nitrogen.

This should be your first clue to use a good liming and a nitrogen fertilizer to eliminate further invasions. The control of already existing white clover has to be done with a herbicide application. Your control will be diminished during the flowering stages. The best time to apply your herbicide is in the fall.

The other window of opportunity is in the spring when growth is just beginning and prior to any flowering. I would wait until nighttime temperatures are least holding steady at 50 degrees F.

It may also require more applications than would be necessary in the fall. After you can see the resultant plant wilting, then start with your lime and fertilizer with nitrogen for future control.

Weed Identification Daisy

This is your typical daisy white petals and yellow centers very easy weed identification. I was so pleased, a number of years ago, when these started appearing in my garden. I felt I had a naturalized perennial.

I did not realize that I was dealing with a vigorous spreading weed. Into my third year of this “wonderful” flower, I realized I was dealing with a major flower take over!

They were beautiful while blooming but turned into a very ugly plant when the flower heads died and past more seeds into my gardens. I guess my weed identification was not so good on this plant.

The other unpleasant occurrence is a nice heavy rain and thunderstorm activity which causes these plants to flop over and into your legitimate flowers. I found that you can pull these weeds out by hand and I would do that as soon as the plant emerges in the spring, and when you can get a good enough grip to pull them out.

It is advisable to do this prior to flowering or you may risk seed drop into your garden. I have done this consistently every season and now I have this weed under control with very few raising their ugly heads.

Weed Identification Wild Garlic

Now I am a garlic and onion lover like everyone else, but this perennial is a big nuisance! The weed identification of the plant is also fairly easy. The leaves are of a waxy look with good upright pointed needle leaves.

the leaves of wild garlic leaves are pointy

The easy weed identification is the strong garlic or onion odor given off by the plant. The leaves of the wild onion tend to be a little flatter and solid in nature.

These plants both develop from underground bulbs. The best weed identification is to pull one stalk and use the nose test and you will readily notice the odor.

A herbicide could be used on these plants but I would just as soon dig them up. This is very possible as long as you take the bulb with them. I found the bulb to be shallow in the soil when in the tender stage, and this is the time to remove before the bulb begins its descent any further into the soil.

This is a vigorous weed and can also spread from seed in the head after flowering and from the production of bulblets. There is a flower; I wish I could remember the name of it, offered by one of the seed companies which produces a very unusual looking flower.

This was also a mistake as it is just another form of garlic that spreads like wild fire and moves erratically in your flower garden. As soon as I get my spring catalogs I will inform you of the name.

A Chart of Vegetables and Their Ability to Suppress Weeds

Did you know that the fast growth of vegetable crops has the capability of suppressing weeds? This one method of weed control is to select a crop that has the ability to suppress weeds by shading the weeds.

I have listed these vegetable crops according to their ability to suppress weeds.

Vegetables That Are Weed Resistance and Weeds That Are Poor

Good Poor
Squash Lettuce
Beans Carrot
Pumpkins Pepper
Peas, southern Greens
Cucumbers Onions
Corn, sweet Peas, garden (English)
Melons Broccoli and Cabbage
Potatoes, Irish Radishes
Sweet potatoes Tomatoes

Weeds suppressed by a crop works well when the crop emerges quickly and achieves a jump start on the weeds. To accomplish this, be sure to plant it at the proper depth, with sufficient moisture and fertilizer.

The other important factor here is to purchase excellent quality vegetable seeds or transplants that are not infected with weed seeds or seedlings. Your garden soil should be tested and follow the resultant recommendations to stimulate rapid crop growth, which has the ability to suppress the weeds.

Dandelion Weed or Vegetable?

As I stated earlier my mom made a vegetable with dandelion and my husband’s father made wine. Have you heard or even perhaps participated in the use of dandelion other than calling it a weed? A recipe would be nice if you have one. Let’s just make dandelion popular rather than a pesky old weed.