Complete Guide to Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them

Complete Guide to Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them

Eliminating weeds from your lawn can be a frustrating task throughout the growing season. Although some weeds, such as dandelions, can attract beneficial pollinators, an abundance of them can deprive your grass and other plants of essential nutrients and space necessary for optimal growth. In addition, weeds can be a refuge for fungi and lawn-damaging pests, which can be difficult to control through insecticide applications. 

To prevent weeds from spreading and recurring, learning how to eradicate them effectively is crucial. Successful weed management can save you time and energy that would otherwise be spent on recurring weed control efforts.

If you want a long-term solution to your weed troubles, you have arrived at the right place. We will share our knowledge on the safe and efficient use of herbicide products to manually remove weeds in our complete lawn weed guide. 

1.  Weed Control Tips for Lawns: Preventative Measures

The best approach to control weeds in your lawn, is to establish and promote healthy turf. When your grass is thriving, weeds find competing for sunlight, air, and nutrients more difficult. You can use lawn fertilizers, biostimulants, and soil moisture managers to keep your grass in excellent condition and minimize the risk of a weed or pest infestation.

Fertilizers and biostimulants will help your lawn absorb the nutrients it needs, and soil moisture managers will reduce your watering costs. But remember that over-fertilization can lead to burnt grass and encourage excessive weed growth. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product label carefully.

Frequent mowing is crucial, and you should attach a basket to your mower to collect clippings and prevent the spread of weed seeds. Long grass clippings can also create a cozy home for pests and their eggs, making it even more crucial to dispose of them properly. Ensure proper disposal of weeds to prevent re-rooting and recurrence. Avoid mixing weeds with your compost pile and instead, dispose of them with your other green waste.

Weeds often indicate problems with your soil too. To address this, use a home soil pH test kit to determine precisely what's going on beneath your grass and if the soil is excessively acidic or alkaline. Lawns thrive on soil with a neutral pH. Once you've identified the nutrients your soil lacks and its pH levels, you can rectify it with pH amendment products, fertilizers, and biostimulants. It’s a good idea to determine why specific weeds prefer your lawn. 

For example, sedges and chickweed thrive in damp soil and shady areas. To correct this, try enhancing soil drainage by core aerating the lawn, and removing soil cores from the grass. Identifying the weeds causing havoc in your lawn is a good first step to determining the best way to eliminate them. Once you've done that, you can proceed to remove them from your grass with the most effective method possible.


Related: How to Core Aerate Your Lawn


A Guide to Types of Lawn Weeds

When it comes to weeds, they can be classified into two categories: grassy and broadleaf. Grassy weeds sprout from a single seed leaf and have longer blades. Grassy weeds are harder to spot as they can often “blend in” with the turf. Keep an eye out for taller, thicker grass blades.  

Some common examples of grassy weeds include crabgrass, dallisgrass, and annual bluegrass. Knowing a weed’s life cycle will help you understand when they’re most vulnerable to treatment and which weed removal method to use.  

Broadleaf weeds emerge from seed with two leaves and have net-like veins. Examples include dandelions and white clovers. 

Weeds can also be classified as annuals or perennials. Annual weeds complete their life cycle, including germination, growth, and death, within a year. Summer annuals like crabgrass and goosegrass grow in the spring and summer, produce seeds, and die in cold weather. Winter annuals, such as annual bluegrass, chickweed, henbit, or purple deadnettle, grow in the fall and winter and die when the temperature rises in early summer. 

Perennial weeds grow for two or more years. Perennials are typically harder to control, and some examples include dallisgrass, wild garlic, nutsedge, white clover, and plantains.

Pre-emergent & Post-emergent Weed Killer

There are two main types of weed killers. Pre-emergent weed killer is applied to the lawn to prevent weed seeds from establishing themselves and germinating. Post-emergent weed killer targets the weed when it is already growing. These herbicides can be obtained in two forms, liquid and granular. Liquid weed killer is highly potent, fast-acting, and demands careful and precise application with a backpack sprayer 

In contrast, granular weed killer, though slower acting, is simpler to apply, using a broadcast spreader. Both liquid and granular pre-emergent weed killers need watering in after application. Most post-emergent herbicides should not be watered in after application. They frequently work by foliar absorption which means that the post-emergent needs to be applied directly to the leaves of the target plant and allowed to dry.  For those new to lawn care, starting off with granular herbicides is advisable as they are easier to use.

Using a turf mark dye indicator and a surfactant can assist in determining the areas where liquid herbicides have already been dispersed and aid in product absorption.


Related: The Best Lawn Weed Killer for Beginners


2. Lawn Weed Identification

The presence of weeds can detract from the aesthetic appeal of your lawn and impede the growth and development of other desired plants that you’ve worked hard to maintain. Here, we have prepared a helpful lawn weed identification guide with pictures and effective strategies for their removal.

Dandelion (broadleaf perennial)

Dandelion plant with fluffy yellow bud Bright yellow dandelion flowers close up in the grass

Preferred growing conditions:

Dandelions like growing in both sunny and shady areas — especially in grass. They’re hard to remove with a long, deep taproot and produce bright yellow flowers which mature to produce seed blowballs.

Control method:

If you don’t have many dandelions, you can use a hand weeder tool to remove the long tap root. For more serious invasions, try the herbicide Celsius WG which specializes in broadleaf and grassy weed control for warm-season grasses.


Crabgrass (grassy annual)

Close up of crabgrass weed from my garden

Preferred growing conditions:

Crabgrass grows in grassy areas in the sun or shade. It has thick grass blades and forms in little clusters on your lawn. Crabgrass is stubborn, so it might require a repeat application of your chosen weed killer.

Control method:

Tenacity is both a pre and post-emergent herbicide. Use it as a post-emergent against crabgrass in Centipede and cool season lawns.. Tenacity is selective, so it’s safe to use without killing your cool season grass.


Bindweed (broadleaf perennial)

Field bindweed or Convolvulus arvensis or European bindweed or Creeping Jenny or Possession vine herbaceous perennial plant with open and closed white flowers surrounded with dense green leaves

Preferred growing conditions:

Bindweed is a vine that enjoys sunny areas and has arrowhead-shaped leaves. It produces trumpet- shaped flowers which can be white or pink.

Control method:

Bindweed is persistent, so if you’re hand-weeding, get rid of plants immediately and repeatedly. Triad Select 3-Way combines three selective herbicides to effectively eliminate broadleaf weeds. Safe for most warm and cool season lawns.


White Clover (broadleaf perennial)

White clover blooming in spring in Japan

Preferred growing conditions:

White clover tends to prefer shadier areas in your lawn. It’s easily recognizable from its three-lobe round leaves with white or pink ball-like flowers.

Control method:

Clover spreads quickly to form dense mats of foliage across your lawn. Although beneficial to pollinators, it can take over. Use the easy-to-apply Certainty herbicide in warm season lawns to control a clover invasion quickly.


Nutsedge (grassy perennial)

Cyperus rotundus (coco-grass, Java grass, nut grass, purple nut sedge or purple nutsedge, red nut sedge)

Preferred growing conditions:

Nutsedge doesn’t mind sun or shade, with tall and slender grassy leaves which protrude from triangular-shaped stems. Their flowers are distinct and look like miniature corn stalks. 

Control method:

Nutsedge grows faster than most grass, so they’re easy to spot. Hand-weed or use post-emergent Sedgehammer herbicide in cool and warm season lawns to treat Nutsedge immediately.  If you have warm season grass, Certainty herbicide does an even better job controlling all sedges.


Chickweed (broadleaf annual)

Chickweed ,Stellaria media. Young taste very gently with flavor of nuts. You can use them in fresh vegetable salads. The chickweed advantage is that we have it fresh almost all year round.

Preferred growing conditions:

Moist and rich soil are the ideal conditions for chickweed. Chickweed is identifiable by rounded, small leaves and spreads in thick mats. Chickweed flowers are small and star-shaped, and white.

Control method:

To prevent a chickweed breakout, opt for Dithiopyr .15%, a weed and feed product that contains fertilizer too. This pre-emergent is highly effective on other annual weeds too.


Knotweed (broadleaf annual)

Blooming Sakhalin Knotweed or Fallopia sachalinensis in autumn

Preferred growing conditions:

Knotweed is an invasive species that likes partly shady or sunny areas. Knotweed has large, green leaves which are sparsely distributed.

Control method:

Prevent knotweed with a pre-emergent herbicide like Prodiamine 65 WDG that comes in water-dispersible granules. Apply in the fall to prevent knotweed from growing. For post-emergent control, Triad Select 3-Way is a great option for warm and cool season lawns.


Kyllinga (grassy perennial)

Kyllinga brevifolia is a species of sedge known by several common names, including shortleaf spikesedge, green kyllinga, perennial greenhead sedge, and kyllinga weed

Preferred growing conditions:

Kyllinga forms a dense mat and is lighter green in color than turf. Kyllinga has a triangular stem with three grass blades protruding from the top of the plant. Look out for the small, round, green seed head.

Control method:

Sedgehammer herbicide is specifically formulated to target kyllinga and yellow nutsedge. For even better control in warm season lawns, we recommend Certainty herbicide.


Plantain (broadleaf perennial)

Plantain flowering plant with green leaf. Plantago major leaves and flowers (broadleaf plantain, white man's foot or greater plantain)

Preferred growing conditions:

Broadleaf plantains are very common, with oval-shaped large green leaves and corn-like sheaves as flowers. Plantain leaves are edible and possess medicinal qualities.

Control method:

Triad Select™ is the best herbicide for controlling broadleaf plantains and comes in a highly concentrated formula to get the most out of single applications.


Poa Annua (grassy annual)

poa annua

Preferred growing conditions:

Poa annua (annual bluegrass) is bright green and grows in shade or direct sunlight. Its telltale sign are white seed heads that become most visible in the months of March and April. It is commonly found in wet areas of the lawn near downspouts or other locations that are slow to drain water.

Control method:

Poa annua is best controlled by preventing it with a fall pre-emergent application. Post-emergent control is limited for cool season lawns with most people choosing to physically remove it. Another option is to use a growth regulator like Primo Maxx to suppress the seed heads. Lack of seed heads helps poa annua blend in with existing cool season turfgrass making it less visible. 

For post-emergent control of poa annua in warm season grass, Certainty herbicide is the best option. The label has application rates specific to controlling poa annua. You will get the best control by combining Certainty with surfactant.


Wild Violet (broadleaf perennial)

Wild Violet

Preferred growing conditions:

Wild violets (common blue violet) have heart-shaped leaves and delicate, five-petaled flowers in shades of purple, blue, or white. They thrive in the shaded light provided by tree canopies or in other areas with filtered sunlight. In ideal conditions they can become invasive, spreading rapidly and potentially overpowering other plants including your turfgrass.

Control method:

Wild violet is best controlled with herbicides containing triclopyr. We recommend a blended product like TZone SE. It can be safely applied to actively growing cool season grass like Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue. TZone SE should only be applied to dormant warm season grass.

For actively growing warm season grass, use Celsius to control wild violet. Given the hardiness of this plant, more than one application spaced 3 weeks apart may be necessary.

Sneezeweed  (broadleaf perennial)

Sneezeweed (Helenium)

Preferred growing conditions:

Sneezeweed, also known as Helenium, is a flowering plant that typically prefers sunny growing conditions. The color of Heleniums, can vary depending on the specific variety or cultivar. The most common colors include shades of yellow, orange, red, and sometimes a combination of these hues. Sneezeweed (Helenium) is considered toxic to pets if ingested.

Control method:

Sneezeweed is best controlled with herbicides containing 2,4-D or Dicamba. To control sneezeweed in warm season grass, we recommend a blended product like Celsius WG. For cool season lawns, go with go with Triad Select. These herbicides are most effective when sneezeweed is actively growing, which is typically in the spring or early summer.


These are some of the most common weeds you’ll find in your lawn, but you might encounter hundreds of different species of weeds. Use an app on your smartphone or a search engine to definitively identify a weed before you move on to weed control management techniques. Also, be sure to read the herbicide label for guidance on proper application and safety.


Related: Identifying the Weeds That Could Destroy Your Lawn


3. How to Kill Weeds Naturally

Manual weed removal is an efficient way to eliminate weeds on small lawns. Hand-weeding is a safe and natural technique to restore balance to your lawn if the weed population is manageable. Extracting weeds when young and more vulnerable is the easiest way to stop them from flowering, producing seeds, and spreading.

It is crucial to identify and remove perennial weeds before they establish taproots. Mature weeds with deep taproots are much more difficult to remove. When hand-weeding, pulling out the entire plant, including the root and as many root fragments as possible is essential. Any residual root pieces left in the ground will develop into new weeds. If new weeds emerge, remove them immediately to deprive the roots of sunlight and eventually eradicate the weed.

It is preferable to weed when the soil is slightly moist and malleable. If you choose this method, you may have toreseed the area where you removed the old weed to prevent new weeds from taking its place.


Related: How to Kill Weeds Naturally


4. Herbicide Application

Before you start applying your chosen weed killer, you need to be wearing the appropriate safety gear. Even if the weed killer is labeled as non-toxic, it might still cause irritation to exposed skin and eyes. Read the product label and make sure you’re wearing all the safety gear you need. Here’s a useful checklist:

  • Shoes with socks
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Gloves
  • Protective eyewear (optional but recommended). 

You must follow the exact application instructions to ensure the best possible result. This will depend on your choice of weed killer and the form it comes in. When spraying your herbicides, only make one pass at medium speed over the target area. Do not go back and forth multiple times over the same area. The weed needs to be wet but not to the point of runoff. For larger areas, you might need to make two side-by-side passes, keeping the spraying wand 12-14” above the weeds. 

For the best weed-killer results, apply your herbicide on a less windy, dry day, with no rain forecasted. We recommend waiting two days after application to continue your mowing regime. After all applications using your backpack sprayer or broadcast spreader, ensure you clean it thoroughly to avoid contamination between different lawn care products. 

We offer a warm and cool-season grass herbicide kit containing all you need for the most effective, efficient and easy weed removal.  

5. Weed Control Tips for Lawns

Keeping weeds under control is important to maintaining a healthy and attractive lawn. While there are many different weed control tips for lawns, the most effective approach will depend on the specific types of weeds present and the lawn size. Regular maintenance practices such as mowing, watering, and fertilizing can also help to prevent weed growth and keep your lawn looking its best. Following the tips and strategies outlined here, you can successfully manage weeds in your lawn and enjoy a lush, green golf course lawn for years to come.

Shop our collection of highly effective herbicides to eliminate the weeds damaging your lawn.