Guide to Typical Yard Invaders - Plantology USA

Guide to Typical Yard Invaders

Oct 08, 2023

Gardening can be a rewarding yet challenging hobby, especially when faced with uninvited guests that compete with your plants for nutrients and space. Weeds are common adversaries for gardeners and understanding them is the first step towards maintaining a healthy and beautiful garden. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore some of the most common weeds, including those that masquerade as grass, and provide effective strategies for controlling them.

The Common Weeds

Dandelions (Taraxacum)

dandelions invading a lawn, showcasing the stark contrast between the lush green grass

  • Description and Identification: Dandelions are easily recognizable with their bright yellow flowers which turn into round, white, puffball seed heads. They have a rosette of toothed leaves at the base.
  • Common Places They Are Found: These persistent weeds are found in lawns, gardens, and even cracks in the pavement.
  • Control and Eradication: Effective control involves removing the entire plant including the tap root. This can be done using a specialized dandelion weeder or by hand. For larger infestations, herbicides or a broadleaf weed killer can be used, though many prefer a more organic approach such as vinegar or hot water treatments.

Crabgrass (Digitaria)

crabgrass invasion

  • Description and Identification: Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grass with a prostrate growth habit. It spreads out from a central point, often forming a crab-like shape.
  • Common Places They Are Found: It often invades lawns, especially those that are under-watered or mowed too low.
  • Control and Eradication: Pre-emergent herbicides can prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating, while post-emergent herbicides can kill existing plants. Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn with proper mowing and watering practices can also help prevent crabgrass infestations.

Weeds that Look Like Grass

Identifying weeds that resemble grass can be challenging, yet it’s crucial for maintaining a pristine lawn. Here, we delve into some common culprits.

Quackgrass (Elymus repens)


  • Description and Identification: Quackgrass has wide, flat blades and can easily be mistaken for desirable turf grass.
  • Common Places They Are Found: It invades lawns, gardens, and agricultural lands.
  • Control and Eradication: Eradicating quackgrass requires persistence. It can be manually removed, ensuring that all rhizomes (underground stems) are also removed. Alternatively, non-selective herbicides can be used, but these will also kill desirable plants.

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon)


  • Description and Identification: Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial grass that spreads by both seeds and aggressive runners.
  • Common Places They Are Found: It is often found in lawns, especially in the southern United States.
  • Control and Eradication: Regular mowing at the right height can help control Bermudagrass. Herbicides can also be effective, though multiple treatments are often necessary.

As you venture into the realm of gardening or lawn maintenance, understanding the common weeds you might encounter is invaluable. Not only will this knowledge help in identifying them, but it will also guide you in adopting the best eradication and control methods. From the dreaded dandelions to the deceptive crabgrass, being equipped with the right information is your first line of defense against these unwelcome garden invaders.

Other Typical Weeds

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)


  • Description and Identification: Bindweed is known for its vine-like appearance and white to pink funnel-shaped flowers. It can climb up and over other plants or structures.
  • Common Places They Are Found: It thrives in open fields, cultivated areas, gardens, and along roadways.
  • Control and Eradication: Due to its extensive root system, manual removal can be challenging. Herbicides tend to be more effective, but may require several applications over time.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)


  • Description and Identification: Chickweed has small, white flowers, and its leaves are oval-shaped and opposite each other on the stem.
  • Common Places They Are Found: Common in garden beds and lawns, particularly in cooler climates.
  • Control and Eradication: Regular mowing and hand-weeding can keep chickweed under control. Pre-emergent herbicides can also be effective.

Battling Weeds Organically

Gardening enthusiasts often seek organic methods to deal with weed problems. Here are a few popular organic approaches:

  • Mulching: A thick layer of mulch can suffocate weeds and prevent them from receiving the sunlight they need to grow.
  • Boiling Water: Pouring boiling water over weeds can kill them; however, it's a non-selective method and can harm desirable plants.
  • Vinegar: Acetic acid in vinegar can desiccate weeds, making it an effective natural herbicide.

Chemical Warfare Against Weeds

When the invasion is extensive, resorting to chemical herbicides might be the way to go. Here are some considerations:

  • Selectivity: Choose selective herbicides that target specific weeds without harming your desired plants.
  • Timing: Apply pre-emergent herbicides before the weed seeds germinate, and post-emergent herbicides after weeds have sprouted.
  • Safety: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure safe and effective use.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Preventing weed problems before they start is often the most effective strategy:

  • Healthy Lawn and Garden: Maintain a healthy, well-fertilized lawn and garden to outcompete weeds.
  • Regular Monitoring: Early detection and removal can prevent a small weed problem from becoming a large one.
  • Proper Identification: Knowing what weeds you're dealing with can help you choose the most effective control methods.

Weeds No More

The battle against weeds is a common challenge for gardeners. Whether you're dealing with crabgrass, dandelions, or a host of other common weeds, knowledge is your best weapon. By understanding the types of weeds you might encounter and the methods available for control and eradication, you can create a strategy to keep your garden and lawn weed-free.

Susan Gentry

About the Author: Susan Gentry

A 20-year plant writing veteran, Susan Gentry's expertise and passion have positioned her as a respected figure in horticulture. Dive into her pieces for insights and inspiration.

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