Lawn Weeds: How to Identify and Get Rid of Them

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 7, 2024

Lawn weeds are a nuisance for any homeowner and can disrupt the flow of an outdoor space by overrunning plants and turfgrass. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal solution to killing weeds, but you can stay in control of your lawn by correctly spotting the invasive species on your property and proceeding accordingly. Read on for tips on identifying and getting rid of dandelions, nutsedge, grassy weeds, bindweed, ragweed, clover, and more.

Common Types of Lawn Weeds

There are dozens of different types of weeds, such as quackgrass, woodsorrel, and knotweed, but some are more prevalent than others. Below are eight of the most common lawn weeds and tips on how you can easily identify them.

Canada Thistle

Canada thistle, or Cirsium arvense, is one of the most visually striking lawn weeds: It grows sharp barbs and distinctive purple flowers that resemble large rosettes. These plants are especially difficult to remove and will sprout new weeds if homeowners don’t completely extract them. 


Chickweed, or Stellaria media, looks like an unassuming little daisy but can easily take over your yard. This plant typically spreads in turf at around 2 inches above soil level, forming a dense mat in the ground that can grow rapidly. Be diligent when removing chickweed, as it can very easily reroot. 


White clover, or Trifolium, grows small and scalloped pink and white flowers and long, slender stems. Clover is incredibly hardy and can survive droughts without any fertilizer or water. This perennial weed can be attractive, but it’s considered a lawn weed because it can easily take over your entire lawn.


Crabgrass, or Digitaria ischaemum, grows quickly and spreads stems that overwhelm other nearby plants. Mowing your yard regularly is often enough to prevent this annual weed, but you can more easily remove it with an effective herbicide.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy or Glechoma hederacea, grows in shady areas with fertile soil. This plant grows rounded leaves with toothed margins and square stems and boasts blue heart-shaped flowers that appear in early spring. Creeping Charlie will overtake your lawn if it goes unaddressed, especially in areas without much sunlight.


Dandelions, or Taraxacum, are easy to spot from their distinctive yellow flowers that pollinators frequently swarm. These broadleaf weeds have thick taproots that make them difficult to remove.

Lamb’s Quarters

Lamb’s quarters, or Chenopodium album, can grow up to 5 feet tall and feature egg-shaped green leaves and pale green stems. Foragers seek this plant out for its edible leaves, but it can harbor viruses that attack cucumber, lettuce, and other vegetables. 


Portulaca oleracea, or purslane, is closely related to moss and grows small yellow flowers, round nodes, and shiny leaves. Purslane is edible and often an ingredient in soups and salads. Be wary of purslane, though, as this lawn weed can pull moisture away from grass or other plants.

What Causes Lawn Weeds?

Weeds thrive when grass isn’t full and lush, when grass is too short, or when foot traffic leads to compacted soil. Growth can also be the product of dry outdoor areas. In these spots, weeds can absorb all the available water, effectively killing nearby plants. 

Unhealthy soil is also a breeding ground for weeds. Weeds can hijack areas of soil that are nutrient-deficient, and homeowners need to purge weeds and invest in fertilizer to restore such areas back to health.

How to Control Lawn Weeds

Homeowners can control weeds with do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches or hire professionals to handle lawn care.

DIY approaches are ideal for homeowners who need to stay within a set budget. Weed control can involve hand-pulling, creating homemade herbicides, or buying premade formulas from any hardware store. Remember that DIY weed removal can be time-consuming and physically demanding.

Hiring a professional ensures you’ll have access to herbicide formulas guaranteed to kill stubborn weeds. Professionals will also save you time and effort. The service of experts can be expensive, though, so make sure you have the necessary budget.

DIY Weed Control

Pulling weeds by hand is an effective way to kick off the DIY weed removal process, but it can be physically taxing, especially if you have a big lawn. Use a trowel to dig out the bulk of the weeds, and finish the job by hand while wearing a sturdy set of gardening gloves. 

Herbicides are another effective means of weed control, and are available in organic and chemical varieties. Organic herbicides must be made of approved synthetic materials or all-natural substances and are typically safer than chemical alternatives. Never allow herbicides to come into contact with your skin, eyes, or nose, though, and contact a medical professional if you accidentally ingest herbicide.

Chemical herbicides, or traditional weed killers, aggressively tackle tough weeds but include ingredients that might damage or kill your other plants. Carefully read any herbicide’s label for safety tips or warnings, and keep them away from children and pets. 

Professional Weed Control

A professional weed control expert can easily assess the severity of your weed infestation and can suggest the best herbicide to start the weed control process. Hiring a professional guarantees that your lawn will be weed-free and beautiful, and experts will save you time and stress. 

Hiring a professional can be expensive, especially if you have a big yard. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to enlist the help of a professional; however, results are usually unarguable, and an attractive weed-free lawn can increase your home’s resale value. 

Research professionals in your area to find one that fits your specific needs. Ask friends and family for recommendations, too.

Preventing Lawn Weeds

Preventing lawn weeds is the key to saving yourself stress and money. To keep weeds at bay, fertilize your lawn and encourage grass germination. Too little fertilizer can lead to an unhealthy lawn that weeds can easily overrun. Be sure to mow your lawn regularly, too, but make sure you don’t cut grass too short. An incorrect mowing height will deprive your lawn of essential nutrients. 

Practice proper watering to maintain a healthy lawn, even during cool seasons. Lawns typically need 1 inch of water per week, and you should adjust that metric if there’s rainfall. Be wary of watering too frequently, which can help weeds germinate. 

Act quickly if you notice weeds starting to creep into your yard or garden. Smother weeds with mulch to block the sunlight weeds need to grow. Opt for coarse mulch, which is wind-resistant and decomposes slowly. If any weeds break through the mulch, you can easily extract them since the soil beneath the mulch will be moist and loose. Proceed by applying preemergence herbicides, which kill weeds as they germinate.

Our Recommendation

Lawn weeds are a headache, but you can remedy infestations quickly with proper weed identification measures.

Hire a professional if you have the resources or if you don’t have the physical capacity to extract and prevent weeds yourself. If you can’t cover the expenses, consider DIY methods such as extracting weeds, employing herbicides, and laying down nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Always take safety precautions when working outdoors, especially when handling herbicides. Remember that weed prevention is perhaps the most essential task in the weed removal process.

Lawn Weeds FAQ

How do I get rid of all the weeds in my grass?

It’s hard to completely eliminate all the weeds in your grass, but it’s not impossible. You can maintain a stunning outdoor space by keeping your yard healthy, watering it regularly, and removing any weeds you spot.

What quickly kills weeds but not grass?

Certain herbicides can kill weeds fast, but not grass. Make sure to read herbicide labels thoroughly before using any on your grass, and ensure the variety you choose is safe for use on non-weeds.

Why is my lawn suddenly full of weeds?

If your lawn is suddenly full of weeds, an invasive variety such as plantain or oxalis has very likely taken over. Hiring a professional is the best course of action for a large-scale weed infestation, as an expert can easily identify weeds and restore your lawn.

What do weeds tell you about your lawn?

Weeds can tell you that your yard isn’t in optimum health. Practice regular watering and mowing, and be sure to provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to keep weeds at bay.

Can I prevent weeds from growing in my lawn?

You can prevent weeds from growing in your lawn by keeping your lawn healthy all year long. Mow your lawn regularly, water it often (but not too often), and fertilize it to keep it picturesque.