Weeds in Lawns Identification
Weeds in Lawns Identification – How to Identify Lawn Weeds
Why is the need for weeds in lawns identification? Let’s put up a scenario. You checked your lawn from a distance. It is green and looking luscious and you think it might take days before it needs mowing. But one day you noticed some small patches of grass getting bigger and greener as you looked closely. And there they are. Weeds! They have crawled their way into your lawn and begin to suffocate it.
Lawn weeds have the reputation of ruining even the most polished greens by making them look uneven, patchy, and ugly. But the problem is we don’t immediately know there are weeds in there until we see them at close range. So the problem is not you being lax in watching over your grass but basically, it’s your lack of knowledge in identifying weeds from the grass until you see these alien plants growing bigger and bolder.
However, we can’t blame you because there are some kinds of weeds in grass that can look like grass. For example, the nutsedge and crabgrass may appear to be lawn grass while young until you see them growing taller, forming branches, developing flowers, and showing larger leaves than your grass. So the main problem here is with our lack of weeds in grass identification skills. But how can we quickly identify weeds from our grass then?
Different Types of Weeds Commonly Found In Lawns
Weeds In lawns will always remain the “unwanted plants” because lawns and turf are meant for growing grass only. On the other hand, not all weeds look ugly and unappealing. In fact, some of the common types of weeds we hate to see on our grass can offer the most relaxing ambiance when they grow and proliferate on the open fields because they can put up colorful scenery with their beautiful flowers and green covers. Some types can even protect the soil from erosion and are good ground covers for areas that experience droughts. Check out Purple deadnettle good or bad weed.
Not to mention that we even eat some of their edible leaves, a number of these are also known for their medicinal values and belong to the healthful herbs that our ancestors recognize them for. But because they also happen to grow on areas that are grown exclusively for certain types of plants such as grass lawns, ornamental plants, and vegetable crops, we wanted them out not only to stop them from competing with our plants.
So back to the main issue of weeds in lawns identification, how can we quickly identify weeds from our grass? What are the common characteristics that can give them off at a quick glance?
Basis in Identifying Weeds from Grass
By their flowers. Most of the common weeds we see on our lawns have identifiable flowers – bright and colorful and bear flowers according to their season. Flowers of the weeds come in a variety of shapes, textures, edges, color combinations, number of petals, and sizes. Grasses also produce flowers which we call florets. But if lawn grasses are managed properly they don’t reach their flowering stage so we don’t usually see these florets.
The flowers of grasses are rather small and when they grow in bunches, we call them spikelets. Most lawn grasses abandoned on fields will bear flowers that are unusually small, also colorful but don’t last long. Grass normally propagates through its shoots and roots.
By their leaves. Yes, it’s true that there are a lot of weeds in grass types that can be mistaken as part of the grass family. But this usually happens while the weeds are young and not yet in their productive stage. But when these weeds that look like grass grow mature, their physical features will give them away. Longer leaves and sometimes larger and wider than the grass blades. The broadleaf weeds can be easily identified by their broad, shaped leaves that separate their appearance from the grass blades.
The leaves of lawn grass don’t change shape from young shoots to maturity. But grass varieties have different structures with their leaf blades. Some are slender while some grass have thick, wide blades.
By their stems. The stems of most weeds are generally stringy, hard, flexible, and elongate faster than the grass. There are also weeds that have succulent stems and soft leaves and these are mainly the broadleaf types. But usually, weeds’ stems are unusually long so in lawn identification would not be hard if you look first at the stem of weeds that are long and growing leaves and flowers.
The stems of grass are ordinarily flat or rounded, quite short, and stringy. Some have succulent stems but because these are covered with old grass blades, they can become tough and hard to break.
By their roots. The roots of the grass vs. roots of weeds have some similarities and also differences. For one, there are weeds that grow rhizomes like the Creeping Charlie and Henbit weed but there are also lawn grasses that do the same such as the zoysiagrass and bermudagrass. Some weeds and grasses also grow stolons. Stolons are stems that have developed their roots as the stems elongate.
However, most grasses have adventitious roots, meaning, they have numerous shallow roots that spread out just under the stem and therefore grasses are easy to pull out. Weeds generally have tap roots which are roots that grow deeper into the soil and produce secondary roots for support.
By their height. The height is one of the most distinguishable features that we can differentiate between the grass and the weeds so weeds in grass identification can be established by the comparison of their height. Grasses don’t grow very tall as they tend to spread out and creep slowly on the ground. Most weeds grow tall from 12 inches up to 3 feet tall depending on the kind. So if you don’t mow your grass for a few days, you can quickly spot where the weeds are.
By their distribution. To better understand weeds in lawn identification, know that weeds tend to grow in clumps or in groups but can also grow as a single plant as their seeds can spread in many ways. Weeds have ways of propagating themselves vigorously thru their roots, shoots, rhizomes, and seeds. They can also easily spread their seeds along with the wind and through activities that happen around them. For example, the Violet Wood Sorrel’s fruits once ripe can explode and scatter their seeds in different directions whenever it gets touched.
Lawn grasses are normally cultivated by man and they can be planted anywhere through their shoots and seeds. But left alone, they can be easily overtaken by aggressively invading weeds.
Most weeds bear seeds. The seeds of weeds are unusually small and are encased in hard shells for protection against fungus and insects when they fall to the ground. Their seeds develop from flowers and some weeds also bear fruit that produce seeds. Lawn grasses don’t bear fruit but they bear flowers we call florets. These florets when they grow together are called inflorescences and when they get pollinated can also turn into seeds.
Weeds are seasonal. Weeds that grow and die within a span of a year are called annual weeds. Annual weeds may die in the winter and sprout their seeds in the spring. Examples are crabgrass and foxtails. And those who live for years as they can continue their life cycle through their seeds, shoots, stolons, and rhizomes are called perennial weeds.
Perennial weeds can germinate their seeds all year round but they go dormant during the winter and become alive again in the spring. Examples are dandelions, nettles, and thistles. There are also weeds that are biennial which grow for 2 years then die as new sprouts emerge from the ground. So if you notice that under the shade of trees the color of the vegetation changes color, it could be that weeds are growing there and adapting to the temperatures around them.
Lawn grasses also fall into two categories – annual and perennial. Annual grasses need to be planted every year through seeding. They can also be good for patching up bare spots where the grass dies after winter or after a drought. However, annual grasses don’t last long because they are weak against the harsh environment. Examples are ryegrass and annual bluegrass.
Perennial grasses are tough and resilient against the changing of the weather. Their parts that are above ground can die during winter but will sprout new shoots from the living roots again during spring. Perennial grasses love the summer sun and examples of these are bentgrass, Bahia grass, buffalo grass, perennial bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and many more.
So in view of these weeds’ features, weeds in lawns identification can now be easy for you. Some weeds, especially the broadleaf types are easy to identify because of their larger features compared to the grass. As they say, if the leaves of a plant are not straight like normal grass and the leaves are broad and mostly serrated and grow within your plants, it can be identified as a weed.
Common Lawn Weeds That We Don’t Want to See In Our Grass
The following are the typical weeds that fall in the broadleaf category and are aggressive invaders of lawns. They are widespread in most parts of the US, Europe, and Asia and these can help you with your weeds in lawns identification because they resemble some of the common weeds we see on our lawns, fields, and farms.
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). This is an invasive perennial creeper with scalloped leaves and forms its purple flowers in clusters, especially in spring. They call it by this name because it propagates by aggressively creeping into the ground and grass and forming stolons on its stems.
Henbit Weed (Lamium amplexicale). Belongs to the mint family, this weed produces purple flowers usually in bunches. It’s a winter annual plant so it can stay dormant in winter and will be alive again in spring while a single plant can produce about 2,000 seeds a year.
Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). This is a winter annual weed and also under the mint family. Also a fast grower and an aggressive weed with very noticeable purple leaves, it is known for its medicinal values and is also edible. It can grow up to 30 cm tall (12 inches) and can spread thousands of seeds before it goes dormant in the winter.
Wild Violet (Viola sororia). This is a hardy plant that can live in different types of weather that’s why we can consider this as an annual/perennial weed. It spreads out its domain by producing rhizomes almost all year round. And though it has succulent stems, it can both live in sunny and shaded areas of the lawns.
Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violaceae). The oxalis family can give us a quick look at how weeds in lawn identification can be done. As a perennial weed, it is known to produce some of the most attractive flowers among purple flower weeds. They may look like clover at first sight but their flowers have 5 petals as against the 3 petals of the clovers.
Weeds in lawns identification can be easily identified by their physical features and the flowers they produce. They are bigger and more aggressive growers than the lawn grass and they are also difficult to control or kill. To know more about how to control each of the weeds mentioned above, we have dedicated pages for these including weeds in grass identification.