An Identification Guide to Lawn Weeds

When weather starts warming up that means it’s time to get outside and work on your lawn! But before you can start mowing and edging, you need to identify the weeds that are growing in your yard.

Weeds are a nuisance because they can grow anywhere, like in the cracks of your sidewalks or between the rocks in your garden. Weeds can also be a problem for those of you with grass lawns. If you have unwanted weeds growing in your lawn, you should know you are not alone.

There are many types of weeds that can invade a lawn, each with their own identifying features, and they can be frustratingly difficult to get rid of. If you’re not sure what to do about those pesky plants, we’ve provided for you an identification guide to lawn weeds.

This identification guide will help you do just that, so you can get rid of them once and for all. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is A Weed?

A weed is any plant that grows where it is unwanted, particularly in cultivated land such as a lawn, garden, farm, field, or park. Because a plant identified as a weed in one region might be an essential plant in another, the term “weed” has no actual legal significance.

Many weeds are beneficial in certain situations, but those that spring to mind when you hear the word “weeds” are those which are invasive; they grow and proliferate aggressively outside of their natural environment.

Weeds are more hardy and able to withstand unfavorable circumstances than non-weeds. This is why weeds will appear in greater numbers near roadways and waste places, as well as in urban and suburban areas in general.

Unhealthy soil, a lack of proper fertilization techniques, and mowing too frequently are all factors that inexperienced homeowners unintentionally create the finest conditions for weeds.

Why Are Weeds Bad For Your Lawn?

Weeds are not only unsightly, but they can also be very bad for your lawn. They take away water, sunlight, and nutrients that your lawn grass needs to survive. They also compete with your grass for space, and, because they tend to grow more quickly than grass, can quickly take over your lawn if left unchecked.

Weeds are invasive species where they don’t belong and can spread quickly, crowding out native plants. Not only does this reduce the diversity of your landscaping, but it can also make it more difficult to control the weed population. Some weeds, like dandelions, can spread their seeds far and wide, making it hard to get rid of them. Others, like crabgrass, can invade your lawn from neighboring properties.

Weeds can also be a safety hazard, as some have sharp leaves or burrs that can cut or scratch people and animals. In short, weeds are bad for your lawn because they suffocate your grass and take away the resources it needs to grow.

Why is Lawn Weed Identification Important?

It is important to examine any weeds you find before getting rid of them. Make sure you know what it is before taking action, because not all weeds are bad. If you’re not sure what kind of weed it is, do some research online or in a book at your library to figure out what to do next time!

The Different Weed Categories

To discover weeds in your grass and get rid of them, you’ll need to know what sort of weed you’re dealing with. To do so, you must first realize that weeds can be divided into two categories:

  • Grassy Lawn Weeds
  • Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

Within the broad categories of broadleaf and grassy weeds, there are two main sub-categories:

  • Annual weeds: These weeds die at the end of their growing season and then grow anew from seed each year
  • Perennial weeds: These weeds come back every year without dying in between

Identifying Common Types of Lawn Weeds

Now that you know the different types of weeds, it’s time to learn how to identify them. This way you can figure out which weed has taken over your lawn and garden, and be able to kill or remove it accordingly.

Here we have listed some of the most common lawn weeds and described what they look like and where you might find them growing.

Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

Annual Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

Common Lespedeza (Japanese Clover)
Japanese Knotweed
Prostrate Spurge

Purslane is a succulent weed, meaning its leaves and stems contain water within them. It has deep green leaves and grows low to the ground and forms a cover like a mat 20 inches across in your lawn or garden.

The flowers on Purslane are yellow and small, with a diameter of 1/8-14 inches and 4-6 notched petals. These flowers can be individual or formed in small clusters.

Perennial Broadleaf Lawn Weeds

Broadleaf Plantain
Creeping Buttercup

Dandelions are one of the most common weeds in North American and Europe, and are so popular many people already know what they look like. However, dandelion weeds have two distinct stages in their lifecycle, and they look very different during these stages.

In the first stage, a dandelion resembles a small sunflower. They grow directly from the ground and typically between 5-10 inches tall. The flowers are small and have tiny bright yellow petals that form in a bunch and spread out at the top of the stem.

In the second stage, these bright yellow petals are transformed into wispy, white, soft seedlings that grow in a sphere pattern, and get dispersed into the wind, propagating the dandelions and planting new ones.

Grassy Lawn Weeds

Annual Grass-Like Lawn Weeds

Annual Bluegrass

Crabgrass is a thick grassy weed that grows thick and sharp blades in a small and dense mat cover. The blades are about 1/8 inch thick and are a slightly lighter green than the grass around it, so they should stand out in your lawn.

It also has seed heads that grow between the large, durable blades. These seed heads are small and round clusters of seeds that form at the end of their stems and can be either brown or green.


Perennial Grassy Lawn Weeds


Quackgrass generally looks like very tall grass. It grows in large clusters, and can take over an area very rapidly. It can sprout up to 5 feet tall, and is typically ashy and blueish-green in color.

If you think you have quackgrass in your yard, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible, because it is very aggressive and can out-compete other, healthy grass and plants for nutrients, water, and sunshine.

Other Weeds

Wild Violet

Wild Onion

Wild Garlic

Unlike its culinary cousin, Wild Garlic is a weed that grows in prostrate mats in forests and other dark, moist areas. It has long, oval shaped broadleaves that are dark green in color and smooth around the edges, and it has lots of flowers with small, white petals.

Wild Garlic has a strong garlic smell, and you can often smell it before you see it. It is edible, and used in many different types of cooking, as it has a more mild garlic flavor than normal store-bought garlic.

Garlic Mustard

Canada Thistle

Dock Weeds



Nutsedge weeds come in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, red, purple, and potentially black. Their leaves are dark green in color and triangular. Their flowers are bright yellow-green, and look like little spikes instead of actual flower petals.

The stem is formed like a triangle rather than a circle, so if you roll it in your fingers you can feel the edges and it won’t roll smoothly. Remember the old phrase “Sedges have edges”.

Spotted Sedge

Stinging Nettle



Chickweed is one of the easiest weed species to spot. It’s delicate and stringy; the leaves are tiny and shaped like small teardrops or eggs, with a pointed tip, and they grow on opposite sides of the stem.

Chickweed’s flowers are tiny and distinctive, with five white petals split with small cracks that give the impression they are ten in number. The flower stem and the sepals – the leaves surrounding the base of the flower – are suffused with fine hairs.

One of its most distinguishing features of chickweed is that it has a single line of hairs along each stem in the form of a mohawk.

Yellow Wood Sorrel



Shepherd’s Purse

Creeping Charlie



White Clover



Moss typically has a vibrant green color, and looks like tiny green patches on the ground, or in trees and on rocks or logs. This hue can vary depending on the environment. Humid areas have lighter mosses and drier environments create darker mosses in order to retain more moisture and survive more easily.

Mosses are usually small green prostrate plants with thin and delicate leaves. These leaves are only one cell thick, so moss appears to be a single mat of green felt.


Mushrooms look like small toadstools that pop up seemingly out of nowhere, because they can grow very fast when they absorb enough water. They have stem-like bodies with wide caps on top that resemble opened umbrellas and either have gills underneath or not.

Most mushrooms are white, but they can be red, orange, brown, or black depending on the species you find.


Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

Creeping Jenny

Summing Up

Weeds are unsightly, and they can be dangerous for your lawn. Lawn weed identification is key to understanding how to get rid of them. By identifying the different types of weeds that can invade your lawn, you can take steps to remove them and prevent them from returning.

We’ve provided a comprehensive guide to common lawn weeds, as well as information on why they are harmful to your yard, and how you can identify them. Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to take action!

You can eliminate these weeds from your lawn using natural or synthetic weed killers, as well as through homemade DIY solutions. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying any herbicides so that you do not damage your lawn.

Keep up with regular maintenance and inspections so that any new weed growth is caught early on and dealt with quickly. With a little bit of effort, you can have a beautiful, weed-free lawn!

If you are unsure about what a particular weed is, do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. Our team is happy to assist you with identifying and removing any pesky lawn weeds!