Common Broadleaf Weeds Found in Your Yard

close-up of dandelion seeds blowing from the head of a dandelion weed

The list of common broadleaf weeds that can grow in your yard includes many species — from showy dandelions and oxalis to the more undercover prostrate spurge and chickweed. Some are edible, support pollinators, and even enrich the soil, while others are just nasty invaders and even toxic to pets and humans. 

Read this article to learn what common broadleaf weeds can set foot in your yard when you expect the least and how to recognize and manage them.

What are broadleaf weeds?

Weeds are plants with undesirable properties that are out of place in a landscape and spread rapidly and competitively. There are two major types of weeds: broadleaf and grassy. 

Simply put, if you see something that doesn’t look like grass, it’s probably a broadleaf weed. If it looks like grass (not the kind you planted), it’s probably a grassy weed. 

This table describes some of their differences:

Broadleaf weedsGrassy weeds
● Broadleaf seedlings sprout with two leaves (dicots)● Grassy seedlings sprout with one leaf (monocots)
● Leaves are wider and have various shapes (round, oval, lance-shaped, etc.). ● Leaves are thinner (bladed like grass)
● Leaves have netlike veins branching from a central vein● Leaf veins are parallel
Examples: Dandelion, white clover, broadleaf plantainExamples: Crabgrass, yellow nutsedge, quackgrass, annual bluegrass

Depending on their life cycle characteristics and the season they sprout and flourish, broadleaf weeds can be divided into four categories:

  • Summer annual weeds
  • Winter annual weed
  • Biennial weeds
  • Perennial weeds

Let’s see some common examples of broadleaf weeds for each category.

Summer broadleaf annuals

Annual weeds have short life cycles of less than one year. They sprout, grow, bloom, spread seed, and die in 12 months or less. Most annuals are only spread by seed and fall into one of two types: summer annuals or winter annuals.

Summer annuals or warm-season annual weeds sprout in spring, flower and seed during summer, and die with the year’s first frost. Here are some common summer broadleaves you can expect to see on your lawn.

Prostrate knotweed (Polygonum aviculare)

Prostrate knotweed (Polygonum aviculare)
Photo Credit: Lipatova Maryna’s Images | Canva Pro | License

Prostrate knotweed is an invasive turfgrass predator that forms dense mats up to 4 feet in diameter. It grows wiry stems with tiny, lance-shaped leaves and sprouts in early spring. 

“Seeds can germinate even earlier than crabgrass. Soil temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit for prostrate knotweed as opposed to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for crabgrass,” says Carrie Knutson, a horticulture agent for North Dakota State University Extension. “Because of this, prostrate knotweed is often mistaken for crabgrass in its seedling stage.” she says.

Crabgrass is a grassy weed that also grows as a summer annual. Find all about it in our guide “How to Get Rid of Crabgrass.”

Growing conditions: It grows in poor, dry soils, and it’s often found in highly compacted areas such as cracks in sidewalks, pathways, and driveways. 

Where it lives: Can be found in all states except California

Alternate names: knotgrass, birdweed, wiregrass

How to get rid of prostrate knotweed:

  • Hand-pull: Knotweed has a small taproot, is easy to pull, and only spreads by seed.
  • Aerate compacted soil 
  • Topdress the lawn and flower beds with good-quality compost to build loose, fertile topsoil. 
  • Spray a broadleaf herbicide for existing plants. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in spring.

Yellow woodsorrel (Oxalis stricta)

Photo Credit: Cbaile19 | Wikimedia Commons | CC0

If you mistake this plant for a shamrock, the leprechauns won’t hold it against you. Yellow woodsorrel has three heart-shaped leaves on each stem, putting out yellow flowers from late spring through early fall. 

Growing conditions: This weed thrives in wet but well-drained fertile soils and is often found in meadows, woodlands, and lawns. In warm climates, it lives year-round. 

Where it lives: Native to the lower 48 except Oregon, California, Nevada, and Utah.

Alternate names: sourgrass, lemon clover, sheep sorrel

How to get rid of yellow woodsorrel: 

  • Cover bare soil in your yard with mulch, groundcover, or turf.
  • Use non-selective herbicides on young plants or pre-emergent herbicides before plants have germinated. Once established, this plant is very difficult to eradicate.

Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus)

Photo Credit: NY State IPM Program at Cornell University from New York | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Redroot pigweed is easily spotted by its ovate, shiny, thin leaves with prominent leaf veins and the reddish taproot. It spreads by seed and is more common in newly established turf where the grass is thin and less competitive. 

Growing conditions: It’s a weed of rich soils and warm weather, growing in sunny areas with plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: red root, rough pigweed, Chinamens greens

How to get rid of redroot pigweed:

  • Keep a thick, dense lawn.
  • Mow the lawn regularly. 
  • Spray with a broadleaf weed killer.

Lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album)

Photo Credit: 6th Happiness | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

An upright plant with many branches, lamb’s quarter typically grows about 2 to 3 feet tall. You can recognize it by its triangular-shaped leaves, which are soft green-gray with coarsely toothed edges. 

June through August, its flowers bloom in greenish clumps and can produce up to 72,000 seeds per plant, according to Montana State University.

Growing conditions: It thrives in moist, fertile soils with good sun exposure.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: baconweed, frost-blite, white goosefoot

How to get rid of lambsquarter:

  • Hand-pull young weeds.
  • Mow to prevent the weed from seeding.
  • Apply a broadleaf herbicide in the spring while weeds are young, up to 6 inches tall. Rotate herbicides – lambsquare is known to develop resistance.

Bonus: Lambsquarter is an edible plant and can be eaten raw (only young plants) or cooked like spinach (steamed, boiled, or sauteed).

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Photo Credit: Muséum de Toulouse | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Common purslane can store water in its reddish succulent stems and green, paddle-like leaves. This helps the weed thrive during the hottest summer months. Left unchecked, it forms large, creeping mats, rooting as it spreads, and blooms tiny, yellow flowers. 

This weed is incredibly prolific. “Common purslane can produce viable seeds as early as three weeks after emergence, with each plant capable of producing over 200,000 seeds,” says Rakesh Chandran, a West Virginia University Extension weed science specialist. 

And get this: It can also regenerate from stem fragments. 

Growing conditions: It grows best in full sun and can tolerate almost any type of soil, including dry, poor, and compacted. 

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: little hogweed, pursley

How to get rid of purslane:

  • Hand-pull or hoe the plants while young. Remove pulled plants from the soil surface to prevent rerooting.
  • Spot spray mature plants with broadleaf herbicides. 

Bonus: Purslane is a nutritious plant rich in omega-3, vitamins and minerals. 

Prostrate spurge (Euphorbia humistrata

Photo Credit: Robert H. Mohlenbrock. Provided by USDA NRCS Wetland Science Institute (WSI) | Wikimedia Commons | Public domain

Prostrate spurge grows in weakened lawns with dry, poor soils, forming ground-hugging mats. The tiny spurge leaves are pale green, hairy, and egg-shaped, while its flowers are reddish and bloom the entire summer, spreading their seeds. 

Prostrate spurge is hard to distinguish from other spurge varieties, such as the spotted spurge (Euphorbia Maculata L.), another common lawn weed.

Growing conditions: It grows in nutrient-poor, dry, compacted soil and infests weakened turfgrass and disturbed landscapes.

Where it lives: In the eastern half of the United States, except the Northeast. It’s also can be found in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and California.

Alternate names: spreading sandmat, spreading broomspurge

How to get rid of prostrate spurge:

  • The shallow taproot allows easy hand-pulling while weeds are young.
  • Purdue University recommends pre-emergent control in the spring with isoxaben and post-emergent control in cool-season lawns with two— or three-way mixtures of 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, or MCPA.

Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia

Photo Credit: Laval University | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, almost 50 million people experience ragweed allergy symptoms in late summer and early fall when this plant blooms. 

Common ragweed is a branching weed that can grow up to 6 feet tall. It typically grows in rural areas but can appear in suburban and urban yards with poor or salty soil. You can recognize it by its leaves, divided into fine lobes, and the off-white to greenish flowers that grow on tall spikes. 

Growing conditions: It thrives in poor soil with good sun exposure.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: annual ragweed, low ragweed

How to get rid of common ragweed:

  • Hand-pull the weed or use a hoe to take it out.
  • Mow the weeds in mid-July and mid-August to prevent seeding.
  • Use fertilizers and compost to improve soil quality. Ragweed prefers poor, compacted, low-quality soil.

Japanese clover (Kummerowia striata)

Photo Credit: Harry Rose from South West Rocks, Australia | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Japanese clover, or common lespedeza, has dark green leaves with three smooth, oblong leaflets. It’s a summer annual that grows close to the ground in dense mats of wiry stems and blooms with single pink to purple flowers. Like clover, it can fix nitrogen in the soil and is grown for forage and green manure.

Japanese clover thrives in thin lawns and easily chokes weak turf. 

Growing conditions: It prefers sandy soil, moderate moisture, and full sun, though it grows in various conditions.

Where it lives: The eastern side of the United States from New Mexico, Kansas, and Iowa to the Atlantic coast.

Alternate name: common lespedeza

How to get rid of Japanese clover:

  • Keep the soil fertile and increase the mowing height to 3 – 4 inches.
  • Apply a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide with 2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), dicamba, or triclopyr in the spring while plants are young.

 “Lespedeza and Korean clover plants become ‘hardened-off’ and difficult to control as summer progresses,” explains Jay McCurdy, associate professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University Extension.

Winter broadleaf annuals

Winter annuals also live a single year but enjoy the cooler temperatures. They sprout in the fall, grow throughout the winter, flower and seed in the spring, and die once the summer heat arrives.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media)

Photo Credit: Robert Flogaus-Faust | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Chickweed is a winter annual broadleaf weed that puts out tiny, clustered white flowers for a few months out of the year. Its football-shaped leaves are small and have a strong center vein with side veins branching out. 

This weed has a mat-like growth habit that crowds thin and dormant turf. Chickweed spreads through creeping stems and seeds and grows most vigorously in fertile soil. Sticky chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum) and perennial mouse-year chickweed (Cerastium vulgare) are two related weeds often present in lawns.

Growing conditions: It prefers moist soils with a fine texture but can grow in various conditions. It tolerates shade well—it can seed in as little as 1.5% daylight.

Where it lives: Throughout the country but not in the Rockies.

Alternate names: chickenwort, starweed

How to get rid of common chickweed: 

  • Hand-pull stems and roots before the plant flowers and sets seed. 
  • Apply a pre-emergent late summer to early fall. Use a post-emergent on the sprouted weeds.

Bonus: This weed is edible — leaves, flowers, and stems.

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Photo Credit: Matt Lavin | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

Henbit resembles chickweed quite a lot, except it bears tiny purple flowers shaped like trumpets. Growing as a cool-season annual herb and sometimes as a biennial, henbit sprouts on thin, weak lawns in early fall, hangs out about ground level during winter, and flowers from March to May.

Growing conditions: It prefers sunny, moist, fertile areas but also grows in partial shade and dry soils.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: dead-nettle, common henbit, or greater henbit

How to get rid of henbit:

  • Keep a dense, healthy lawn.
  • Apply a pre-emergent in early to mid-September. 
  • Apply a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide later in the season – Ward Upham from Kansas State University recommends a day in mid-October to early November with more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nettleleaf goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)

Photo Credit: Stefan.lefnaer | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Nettleleaf goosefoot weeds have dark green, glossy leaves. Roughly triangular or lancet-shaped and with toothed edges, goosefoot leaves give off a strong smell when crushed. The weed grows up to 3 feet tall and forms dense clusters of green flower heads, mostly in spring. 

Growing conditions: It prefers moist, fertile soil but can tolerate nutrient-poor soil and drought. It doesn’t grow well in the shade.

Where it lives: Throughout the United States except Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

Alternate names: Australian spinach, salt-green, and sowbane.

How to get rid of nettle-leaved goosefoot:

  • Pull the weeds with their roots.
  • Apply spot treatments with a broadleaf herbicide. 

Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Photo Credit: Tatiana | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

This weed needs low temperatures (under 60 degrees Fahrenheit) for its seeds to germinate. It appears on your lawn as rosettes of dandelion-like leaves up to 18 inches tall and bears white flowers. 

How does it get there? Most often through infested compost or seeds traveling from neighboring gardens. It’s a short-lived weed that produces many seeds and generations in one growing season. Shepherd’s purse also can grow as a summer annual, similar to black medic, scarlet pimpernel, mallow, and groundsel.

Growing conditions: It establishes the best in dry, clay to sandy loam soils, with good sun exposure.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: pick-pocket, pepper plant, mother’s-heart, St. James weed, toothwort

How to get rid of shepherd’s purse:

  • Hand-pull young weeds.
  • Apply a post-emergent herbicide with 2, 4-D, MCPP, dicamba, or triclopyr.

Common vetch (Vicia sativa)

Photo Credit: Jörg Hempel | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

An annual weed from the legume family, common vetch fixes nitrogen from the air. It can grow in poor soils and thrives in thin lawns with good soil moisture. Vetch has a trailing growth style, forming large mats of tiny, deep green leaves. Purple flowers turn into seed pods late in the season. 

Growing conditions: It adapts to a wide range of soil conditions but grows best in neutral to alkaline soils with moderate fertility. 

Where it lives: All across the United States

Alternate names: narrowleaf vetch, garden vetch, tare

How to get rid of common vetch:

  • Remove the plant and as much of the root as possible with a digging tool before the weed can seed.
  • Apply a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer.

Biennial broadleaf weeds

Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle. In the first year, they typically grow as a rosette of leaves, while in the second growing season, they develop a flowering stalk and set seed. Here are three biennials that often grow on lawns.

Burdock (Arctium minus)

Photo Credit: Zeynel Cebeci | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Burdock is a bare-ground weed that loves to set roots on the lawn’s edges and in thin areas where the grass is less competitive. In its first-year rosette stage, this broadleaf weed looks like rhubarb, with large, heart-shaped leaves and a wooly underside. 

In the second year, burdock blooms pink to purple flowers, enclosed in burs (much like thistle) that will cling to clothing and animal fur to spread its seeds as far as possible.

Growing conditions: It grows best in loamy soil with neutral pH and moderate moisture.

Where it lives: All across the United States except Florida.

Alternate names: lesser burdock, wild rhubarb

How to get rid of burdock:

  • Hand-pull and dig young plants with the entire root if possible (it has a deep taproot).
  • Mow these weeds before flowering to prevent seeding.
  • Apply post-emergent herbicides while burdock is in its rosette stage.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Photo Credit: Daniel Cahen | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Often growing near paved areas, on sparsely planted lawns, and flower beds, hairy bittercress is most visible in the spring when it grows thin, hair-like stalks with small white flowers. At the base, its stems and leaves form a clump of many tiny oval leaflets that cover the soil and can grow up to 10 inches tall.

Growing conditions: It grows in moist, disturbed soils (digging, planting, and raking the soil stir up dormant seeds) in lawns and gardens. Hairy bittercress thrives in full sun and shady areas.

Where it lives: Mostly in the Southeastern U.S.

Alternate names: flick weed, lamb’s cress, shot weed, and spring cress

How to get rid of hairy bittercress:

  • Mow the lawn to remove flower stems before seeding.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides from late summer to early fall.

Bonus: This weed is edible and not bitter, as the name might suggest, but with a mild peppery taste.

Cutleaf geranium (Geranium dissectum)

Photo Credit: Zeynel Cebeci | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

The name comes from the geranium leaf shape – a disk cut in deep lobes. What you’ve got here is a very adaptable weed. In lawns with regular mowing, it grows close to the ground, while in flower beds, it can reach up to 2 ½ feet in height. 

Cutleaf geranium spreads through seed. It blooms tiny pink to purple flowers, each producing up to 150 seeds.

Growing conditions: It prefers well-draining soils with consistent moisture and full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Where it lives: It is found on both coasts of the United States and spreads more inland to Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois on the eastern side.

Alternate names: cut-leaved cranesbill

How to get rid of cutleaf geranium:

  • Remove young plants using a hoe.
  • Mow the weeds before they have a chance to flower and seed.

Perennial broadleaf weeds

Perennial broadleaves are weeds that live for over two years, regrowing from their roots every season. They spread through vegetative parts such as bulbs, tubers, stolons (above-ground stems), rhizomes (underground stems), and some by seed. Most have deep taproots that store energy, allowing them to survive through winter. 

Here are some common broadleaf weeds that grow as perennial plants.

Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major)

Photo Credit: Robert Flogaus-Faust | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Broadleaf plantain is fairly easy to recognize in your lawn. Its broad green leaves form a basal rosette (low-growing circular leaves), and its greenish flowering stalks appear from mid-spring through early fall. This perennial loses its leaves in the winter and re-grows again in spring. 

Growing conditions: It prefers moist, rich-in-nutrient soils, but it can tolerate dry and wet soils and grow in heavily compacted areas.

Where it lives: Throughout the country except in the Northeast

Alternate names: buckhorn plantain, ripple grass

How to get rid of broadleaf plantain: 

  • Hand-pull (Be sure to get the deep taproot.)
  • Pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide. Try corn gluten if you prefer a natural pre-emergent.

Bonus: This weed is edible and has medicinal properties.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Photo Credit: GT1976 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Who doesn’t love dandelions? With their yellow flowers and wispy, feather-light seeds, dandelions can hardly be called weeds. But if you’re aiming for that perfect lawn look, they may throw a wrench in your hopes and dreams.

Dandelions thrive in yards with low pH, compacted soil, high potassium, and low calcium. Yep, a weed can tell you all of that. So, after you hand-pull the dandelion, get a soil test, pull out the aerator, and make your lawn soil dandelion-proof.

Growing conditions: It prefers fertile, heavy, acidic soil with a pH of 4 to 8 and often grows in compacted areas high in potassium and nitrogen and low in calcium. 

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: lion’s tooth

How to get rid of dandelions: 

  • Use a screwdriver or weed puller to remove the whole plant, including the taproot. Do this before they seed.
  • Post-emergent broadleaf weed killers also will do the job if you prefer chemicals. North Carolina State University explains that pre-emergent herbicides may not be effective in an area where the flowers are established.

Bonus: This weed is edible, has medicinal properties, and provides essential food for pollinators in early spring.

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Photo Credit: Leila Dasher | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Ground ivy is a perennial member of the mint family. This invasive species has pretty, heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and is challenging to eradicate from the home lawn.

The weed spreads by creeping on the ground and rooting at the nodes. In spring and summer, it produces blue or purple flowers.

Growing conditions: It prefers shady areas and damp, heavy, alkaline soils rich in phosphate and nitrogen.

Where it lives: Is an introduced species throughout the U.S. except for Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and New Mexico.

Alternate names: cat’s foot, field balm, runaway robin, alehoffs, and creeping charlie.

How to get rid of ground ivy: 

  • If you hand-pull, you must remove all of the stolons to prevent it from coming back.
  • One study recommends a mixture of 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop. Other mixtures to try are clopyralid, triclopyr, MCPA, and dichlorprop. Even so, experts note that this weed often returns after post-emergent chemical controls are used.

White clover (Trifolium repens)

Photo Credit: Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

White clover is a common lawn weed with white flowers and three-leaved stems that prefers cool and moist weather. Although some consider this perennial invasive and undesired, others use it as a low-maintenance lawn alternative, cover crop, or erosion control plant. 

If you prefer to mow your weeds as a control method, here’s the good news: white clover flowers grow from 4 to 6 inches tall, and mowing will keep the flowers in check. 

Growing conditions: It grows in humid and irrigated areas and prefers clay and silt soils rich in phosphate, potash, and lime.

Where it lives: All 50 states

Alternate names: Dutch clover, ladino clover

How to get rid of white clover:

  • Use a trowel or hand-pull to remove this plant from flower beds or lawns. 
  • As an indicator species, clover often lives in compacted soils with low pH and nitrogen. Get a soil test to see if you need to add nitrogen or lime.
  • Use an iron-based herbicide for chemical control. Read more in our guide “How to Get Rid of Clover Without Killing Your Grass.”

Bonus: This weed is edible, a favorite of pollinators – bees, moths, and butterflies frequent its globe-shaped flowers – and also can be used as a forage crop for livestock.

Florida betony (Stachys floridana)

Photo Credit: sonnia hill | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

This hard-to-control perennial weed has mid-sized lance-shaped leaves with toothed edges and square stems. It blooms white to pink flowers in the spring, but its most distinctive feature is the root, which has white, segmented tubers that look like a rattlesnake tail. 

The roots give this weed its second name — rattlesnake weed — and are responsible for its rapid and consistent spreading.

Growing conditions: This weed tolerates a wide range of conditions. It can grow in full sun and shade in dry and wet soils.

Where it lives: This weed is common across the Southeast, from Virginia to Texas.

Alternate names: rattlesnake weed

How to get rid of Florida betony:

  • Apply post-emergent herbicides. Plan one application in the fall and a second one in mid-winter and early spring.
  • Only dig out the plant where you can’t spray chemicals: around trees and shrubs.

Common broadleaf weeds toxic to animals and humans

Some broadleaf weeds growing in lawns and pastures do more than smother grass and crops; they can severely harm humans, pets, horses, and cattle. Some when ingested, others at touch. Here are some of the toxic weeds with large leaves you should remove from your yard at first sight:

  • Jimsonweed
  • Milkweed 
  • Poison ivy
  • Poison hemlock
  • Black nightshade
  • Bitter nightshade
  • Dogbane
  • Buttercup
  • Buffalo bur 
  • Pokeweed 

How to get rid of broadleaf weeds in the lawn

Weed control is more effective when it combines herbicide application with proper lawn care practices, which experts call Integrated Weed Management or Integrated Pest Management for Weeds. 

Cultural practices for broadleaf weed prevention

Where turfgrass thrives, weeds don’t. Keep your lawn weed-free and nasty broadleaf weeds at bay by growing healthy, dense turfgrass. Start by choosing the right turfgrass variety for your climate, soil, and sun exposure and planting the grass the right way and at the right time.

Continue with proper lawn care routine:

  • Mow your turfgrass correctly: Keep the right mowing height for your type of grass, cut less than ⅓ of the blade, and use sharp lawn mower blades. 
  • Water deeply and less often: Apply 1 to 1.5 inches weekly in one or two applications.
  • Test the soil for pH imbalances and nutrient deficiencies. Use soil amendments to balance pH and improve fertility.
  • Avoid fertilizer burn and overfertilization. Fertilize only during your turf’s growing season with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Core aerate if the soil is compacted. 
  • Topdress the lawn with compost to improve organic matter content, fertility, and drainage.
  • Overseed thin areas and repair any bare patches as soon as possible. 
  • Cover bare soil in your garden with suitable mulch or ground cover. This includes flower and vegetable beds and areas under trees and shrubs where grass can’t grow properly.

Weed Identification

Effective weed control starts with weed identification. Find out what weed is messing with your lawn, and you’ll know how to remove it and prevent its regrowth. While common weeds are easy to spot, less popular ones can be quite a challenge for homeowners.

The easiest way to identify a weed is by a photo. Take a picture with your phone and check it against images of broadleaf weeds in this article, other pieces about lawn weeds, and weed databases such as the ones below:

You can also take a weed sample at the local Extension Office for identification.

Mechanical control for broadleaf weeds

Photo Credit: IMCBerea College | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Hand-pulling is a low-cost, chemical-free weed control method for most weeds. How do you remove broadleaf weeds from the ground correctly? Here are some tips on weed pulling:

  • Hand-pull broadleaf weeds as soon as you spot them. Young plants come out easier.
  • Aim to remove as much of the root system as possible to prevent regrowth. 
  • Use a hoe, a garden trowel, or a dandelion fork to dig out plants with deep taproots.
  • Manually remove the weeds when the soil is moist (after rainfall or irrigation). Roots pull out easier.
  • Do your best not to leave root fragments in the soil from which weeds can regrow.
  • Collect all weed debris from the soil surface and dispose of them.

Mowing is your second eco-friendly weed control option. It works best on annual and biennial weeds that spread mostly by seed. Repeated mowing prevents the weeds from blooming and forming seed heads. 

Mowing is less effective on perennials spread by stolons, rhizomes, and low-growing broadleaves that keep under the mowing height.

Chemical weed control for broadleaf species

What chemicals kill broadleaf weeds? Depending on the weed’s type and stage in its life cycle, you can use:

  • Pre-emergent herbicides: Apply a pre-emergent treatment before the weeds sprout to prevent the seedling from developing. 
  • Post-emergent herbicides: You apply a post-emergent solution to broadleaf weeds already grown on your lawn. Experts recommend products that mix selective herbicides such as dicamba, MCPA, MCPP, and 2,4-D. Atrazine can control broadleaf weeds such as common vetch and Japanese clover in centipedegrass and St. Augustine lawns.

These selective weed killers mainly target broadleaf weeds and leave the grass mostly unharmed.

Will glyphosate kill broadleaf weeds? Yes, but glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and also will damage turfgrass and other desirable plants it reaches. It’s best to use it as a last resort.

What about natural herbicides and homemade weed killers? Do they work on broadleaf weeds? Young broadleaf annuals are susceptible to burn-down herbicides with natural active ingredients such as:

  • essential oils
  • vinegar
  • citric acid
  • pelargonic acid
  • baking soda

These contact weed killers damage only what they touch. They don’t travel inside the plant down to the roots and are less effective on perennial weeds and mature plants.

FAQ about broadleaf weeds

What herbicide kills broadleaf weeds but not grass?

Herbicides with dicamba, 2,4D, MCPP, atrazine, and metsulfuron are relatively safe for established turfgrass. However, it’s essential to always check the product indications to ensure they’re safe for your specific type of grass. Never apply these broadleaf weed killers on newly planted grass.

Will broadleaf herbicides kill ornamentals?

Trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, and even vegetables can be susceptible to broadleaf herbicides. If you need to use weed killers in their vicinity, spread them with care only during days without wind that could expose the plants to herbicide spray.

What’s the deal with edible weeds?

Even though many of these weeds are edible, consider a few things before you eat a wild plant:

  • Never eat weeds that have been sprayed with any type of chemical.
  • Even if a plant is edible, know the weed’s particulars before you dine. For example, some are better cooked vs. raw. Others can only be used in limited quantities — as a garnish. 

Once you know that your weeds are safe to eat, you can enjoy them without the worry that they’ll cause illness or discomfort.

When to call the lawn weed pro?

If the weeds in your lawn make you weary, contact a local lawn care professional through Lawn Love. We can connect you with the best pros who have expertise in local weeds and can help you turn the tide against weeds in your lawn.


Main Photo Credit: Олександр К | Unsplash

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon is an outdoorsy blog writer with a green thumb and a passion for organic gardening. When not writing about weeds, pests, soil, and growing plants, she's tending to her veggie garden and the lovely turf strip in her front yard.