How to Identify and Remove Common Lawn Weeds: Part-I

Weeds are the last thing anyone wants in their lawns. They are difficult to handle and hard to remove entirely. They are so invasive that sometimes, it becomes hard to differentiate between shrubs and weeds.

Many gardeners fail to identify common lawn weeds and keep on nurturing them like a shrub.

To deal with this problem, here’s a guide to identify and remove common lawn weeds.


Crabgrass is an annual weed that is 18” tall and 20” wide. It spreads in the form of a tight, crab-like circle (hence the name). This weed is generally falls into two types, large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) and smooth crabgrass (Digitaria ischaemum). It generally appears in bare areas of the lawn in sun or shade. It has a fibrous root system and can spread rapidly as each plant produces around 150,000 seeds. This annual weed can easily be identified through its crab-like appearance and unique seeds that spread out like four fingers.

To remove crabgrass from your landscape, use a pre-emergence herbicide or mulch your garden properly to prevent its seeds from sprouting. If you spot this weed in your garden, then pull it out by hands or use a post-emergence herbicide to kill it.

Prickly Lettuce

Prickly lettuce or Lactuca serriola, is an annual or biennial weed that has spines along its edges (as the name suggests). You can distinguish it from other plants through its slightly fetid odour and emission of milky sap (latex) when cut. Prickly lettuce is a winter weed that appears mostly in disturbed soil, spread through wind-borne seeds and invades gardens with irrigated and nutrient-rich soil.

You can prevent this weed from spreading by spot treating it with a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide. Don’t try to pull it out with your hands as the prickly leaves make it difficult for you to hold it.


Dandelion or Taraxacum officinale, is easy to identify through its yellow flowers and puff-ball seedheads. This perennial weed has a deep tap root that grows up to ½ inch in diameter. The flowers remain open in the daytime and closed at night. It rapidly colonizes lawns through wind-borne seeds in spring and fall.

Dig them and pull them out manually, but make sure you dig up a large part of the root or else it can re-sprout. Spray post-emergence herbicide on the dandelions (mature plants) to prevent it from spreading around. The best time to do so is the fall because herbicides penetrate directly to the roots during this time.

White Clover

White clover (Trifolium repens) is a broadleaf perennial. It used to be considered a useful ingredient in lawn seed blends, but is now viewed as an invader. This weed mostly grows in gardens with poor and nitrogen deficient soil. It has characteristic whitish flowers and trifoliate leaves that help in identification.

To remove white clover from your lawn, apply broadleaf herbicide on the affected area. This perennial weed is difficult to eradicate; therefore, several seasonal applications in spring and fall is needed to kill it. You can prevent white clover from re-sprouting by improving the soil fertility.

Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf Plantain or Plantago major, is a perennial with broad oval leaves around a low rosette. It grows mostly in moist parts of the garden with compacted soil. It is a drought tolerant variety and grows up to 8” tall and 12” wide. It thrives in over-watered soil and fertilizes rapidly by wind-borne pollens as each plant produces 15,000 seeds.

Broadleaf plantain can be removed by hand or spraying post-emergent broadleaf herbicide on it. Add compost to the soil and keep it aerated to prevent this weed from re-growing.

Look around your garden and identify whether you have any one of these lawn weeds. In the next post, we’ll be identifying and explaining how to remove some more common lawn weeds.