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Common Lawn Weeds

"Smooth crabgrass" by The NYSIPM Image Gallery is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Crabgrass is an annual weed in the Digitaria genus. Native to tropical regions, it was brought to North America by early settlers as a forage crop for livestock, renowned for fast regrowth and suitability for poor soils. Today it is regarded more as a nuisance than a beneficial plant. As an annual plant. crabgrass regrows from seed each year, typically in late April to early May.

Many varieties of tall fescue are confused with crabgrass. Crabgrass is typically distinguished from fescue by short growth habits, thick red stem, and circular growth patterns. Another distinguishing feature of crabgrass is the light green color and germination typically in June or July. Tall fescue typically is dark green and present a year long.

Crabgrass control is best done very early in spring around the time the forsythia bushes begin to bloom. This is done by applying a pre-emergent herbicide such as corn gluten meal or another chemical pesticide. Later in the season control is done by selective spraying of plants with a broad spectrum herbicide or manually pulling plants. This is less effective because crabgrass has already released seeds, which will germinate next spring.



Dandelions are a perennial weed in the Taraxacum genus. Most commonly seen in spring and summer. Distinguished by unique leaves are a circular growth pattern (shown in the image to the left) and bright yellow flowers atop a long stem. Excessive dandelions are a sign of poor soil lacking in calcium and other nutrients. This can be controlled by a proper fertilization schedule and the addition of calcium-rich fertilizers such as bonemeal. Alternatively and broad-spectrum herbicide can be applied to individual plants anytime during the growing season.

Other control methods are the application of a pre-emergent herbicide such as corn gluten meal or other chemical herbicide in the early spring. Another effective control method is to simply remove the plant and roots with a tool known as a tap root remover. A taproot remover tool, commonly found in home improvement stores and online, removes a plant by grasping onto the root and pulling it up whole. With a bit of practice, this can be done with minimal to no harm to the lawn.

"Broadleaf plantain"

Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf plantain is a perennial weed in the Plantago genus. Featuring a short growth habit and a few, broad leaves (as shown on the left), It is commonly found in compacted, poor, clay soils. The best permanent control method is to reduce soil compaction. This is done by core aerating the lawn. Core aeration is done either manually or with a machine that takes small plugs out of the lawn. The effectiveness can be increased by amending your lawn with a soft, airy material such as loam or compost. This layer should be no thicker than 1/2 inch.

Alternative control methods include the application of a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring or a selective herbicide at any time of the year. Examples of pre-emergent herbicides are corn gluten meal and ortho weed clear as an example of a selective herbicide. It should be noted the above chemical methods are no substitute for proper lawn aeration.

"Clover Lawn"


Clover is not grass but a type of legume. Clover is typically thought of as a lawn weed. Clover assists lawns by providing key nutrients to grasses which enables healthy growth and full color. Featuring dark green leaves and greater drought tolerance than any other grass. As a legume it fixes nitrogen into the soil, providing a key nutrient for grass growth. Typically overseeded onto an existing lawn or overseeded as part of a grass mix. One unique feature of clover is that it flowers from early spring to late summer. This can attract pollinators, which may be a problem around small children. This is typically solved by regular, weekly mowings.

While it is typically not recommended to control clover unless you are willing to make up for the loss of nitrogen from the clover. One control method for clover is to supplement your lawn with nitrogen fertilizer, as legumes such as clover only thrive in low nitrogen soils. Two other control methods are pre-emergent herbicides and post-emergence herbicides such as bonide weed beater or another 2,4-D Amine Selective weed killer.

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