By Bonnie L. Grant
I firmly believe in “live and let live” except when it comes to weeds. Some of the more common weed pests have become my personal nemesis and seem to go out of their way to crop up in new and unexpected areas. Whether it’s wild plants that aren’t wanted or purchased plants that take over, weeds are tenacious and vigorous. That is why they spread so well and so easily. Knowing the common offenders will help you control these garden pests and keep your treasured plants safe from competition.
Weeds can be generally divided into two categories: broadleaf and creeping. Broadleaf and grassy weeds are the most prevalent in the landscape. Creeping weeds are mostly found in your lawn and may be grassy or broadleaf. Broadleaf weeds often have deep taproots while grassy weeds have wide, sprawling root systems. Both can be difficult to remove and often require chemical intervention for complete annihilation. Below are the top 10 lawn and garden weeds to look out for.
1. Plantain – Plantain weeds have wide oval leaves and a greenish flower spike that may get 6 to 12 inches tall. Found in grass, garden beds, roadsides, anywhere.
2. Bull Thistle – Bull thistle is a rosette forming, densely hairy (ouch) biennial plant with stems 2- to 4-feet tall with purple blooms.
3. Canada Thistle – Similar in appearance to bull thistle, Canada thistle has crinkled leaves with reddish purple blooms.
4. Wild Violet – Actually quite pretty but invasive in lawns, wild violets have heart-shaped leaves and small violet, blue or white flowers.
5. Dandelion – Incredibly common anywhere, who isn’t familiar with dandelions and their rosette of deeply lobed leaves, yellow flowers and deep taproots?
6. Common Purslane – Prostrate stems, succulent leaves, and yellow flowers are attributes of common purslane. This is actually an edible herb but becomes invasive in most garden settings.
7. Mouse Ear Chickweed – Chickweed favors moist soil and has mat forming, tiny oval leaves with fine hairs and evergreen, starry white flowers. Spreads like crazy!
8. Crabgrass – The grassy mat growing crabgrass produces older maroon colored leaves with a flower spike that has 2 to 10 spikelets.
9. Creeping Bentgrass – This bentgrass has bluish green leaf blades with purplish red bases. It’s brown in dormancy and one of the last grasses to green up in spring.
10. White Clover – Often found in grass but shows up in other areas too, white clover produces trifolate leaves with white tufted flowers. Stems creep and root at internodes.
There are many more weeds that may be more prevalent in your region but these top 10 are popular amongst their kind and common in most home situations. Controlling persistent weeds is best done through constant hand pulling, unless you are a chemical warfare type gardener. Over time, you will reduce the vitality of the weed and it will succumb to your vigilance.