Lawn Weeds

Lawn weedsWeeds can be one of the most annoying and frustrating issues for you and your lawn. Nothing spoils a lawn like weeds!

The term ‘weed’ is usually applied to an invasive plant that competes with the grass for space to grow. The most familiar to us are dandelions, clover, buttercups and daisies.

At Lawnscience we see a variety of lawn weeds and we know how much of a nuisance they can be for garden owners. Your Lawnscience professional can provide tips and advice on how to deal with weeds and how to identify the type of weed you are dealing with.

An early identification and quick treatment can help prevent any large scale weed problem in your lawn. A simple approach is to have an annual Lawn Care Treatment Plan.

If your grass looks patchy, uneven in it’s growth, different textures and colours and spotting the appearance of flowers, then it most likely has a weed problem. Weeds not only appear in longer grass areas but in closely mown lawns as well.


If you think your lawn might be suffering from weeds why not take advantage of the Lawnscience lawn review service. One of our fully trained lawn care professionals will be happy to arrange a free lawn review with you, during which they will identify the issue(s) and provide you with a fully costed solution for you to consider. To take advantage of this opportunity just contact us.



 Additional Information on Lawn Weeds


There are three types of weeds that are likely to give you long-term problems – Common (often creeping), Grassy and Broadleaf weeds. They are broken down into three botanical groups, Annuals (which complete their lifecycle from seed within one year), Biennials (which live for more than one year but not longer than two years) and Perennials (which live for more than two years).

Common Weeds

Common garden weeds are perfectly adapted to our environment. They can compete with more fragile non-indigenous plants for soil nutrients, water and space. For each type of weed, a different weed treatment is recommended. Below are just a few of the most common weeds we see in UK Lawns.

White Clover lawn weeds in a lawnWhite Clover (Trifolium repens)

An easily recognisable weed found in lawns. White Clover is a perennial weed. It can colonise quickly choking out grass with its creeping runners that travel along the surface very quickly. It prefers a good soil condition often in a shady and damp area. Leaves of this weed are known by its three leafs, occasionally found as four (Known to be lucky for some). Generally white in appearance, the flowers are often found above the leaves, throughout the summer months.


Dandelions - lawn weeds in a lawnDandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The Dandelion is a common perennial weed. Although it is a perennial plant it spreads from seed, and germinates throughout the year. The seeds are wind borne and often found germinating along the edges of paths and borders. It’s long stout tap root – stretching up to 10 inches, makes it more difficult to remove from the ground. The Dandelion leaves have known health benefits and the flowers are often made into wine. The leaves are long and fleshy and can grow to a significant size, anywhere from 3 -12 inches. The single yellow flower grows from March to November.


Creeping buttercup lawn weeds in a lawnCreeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)

The Creeping Buttercup is a low growing perennial weed, commonly found in the UK. It spreads by using its creeping stems running along the surface of the ground. The roots are very dense and fibrous.

Difficult to remove permanently as it can take several years to weaken the plant. It likes a wet heavy soil condition. The bright yellow flowers have 6 to 9 petals each and can seed from Spring to late Summer months.


Yarrow lawn weeds in a lawnYarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow is a common weed appearing on all types of lawns and is perennial. It spreads by creeping stems, rooting at intervals. It has a deep root system. It has deep fibrous roots and can withstand dry conditions.  The leaves resemble the fern, making it easy to identify. The Yarrow is a real issue in lawns as it is very difficult to control and appears 12 months of the year.

Grassy Weeds

A lawn weed can include a grass variety. Because Grassy weeds look similar to desirable lawn grasses, they are often difficult to identify your lawn. These grassy weeds do not have the fine leafed spreading habit of desirable lawn grasses and they look very coarse and unsightly if they are left to develop on your lawn. Some, like foxtail and crabgrass, appear each year from seed and so can be especially difficult to control.

Controlling annual unwanted grasses can be difficult and there are only a few herbicides that can be used to control this type of weed without affecting other desirable grasses.

Once identified correctly, an appropriate weed control can be used. Below are a couple of examples of the most common weeds we see in UK Lawns.

Crabgrass lawn weeds growing in a lawnCrabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)

Although mainly found in North America, it has invaded lawns in the UK. It sprawls from a central root low across the ground, quickly becoming a problem as it will grow vigorously, especially in hot, dry conditions. Before dying off in the Autumn months a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in the Spring. The leaf blades are approximately ¼” wide, which angle out from the stem, growing upwards as new blades appear. When mowing your lawn you can use a higher mowing cut which will encourage lawn grasses to shade and prevent the germination of crabgrass seeds. If your lawn is a deep, thick lawn it will seldom contain much crabgrass. Pull out crabgrass as soon as you spot it as any young plants will only leave a small hole which your desirable grass will quickly fill.

Foxtail lawn weeds growing in a lawnFoxtail (Setaria)

Foxtail has wide leaf blades, much like turf grass. The base of the leaves have fine hairs and the stem rises from a collar at the base of the leaf. Stems bear approximately 3 – 10 inch long spikes of flowers, yielding to seeds at the end of the growing season.

The name “foxtail” is applied to a number of grasses that have bushy spikes that resemble the tail of a fox, hence the name. Foxtails can become a health hazard for dogs and other domestic animals.


Broadleaf Weeds

Some consider broadleaf weeds as a wild flower and a welcome addition to their garden and lawn. This is because they will provide a natural habitat beneficial to bees, insects and other wildlife. However, this type of weed will be a problem for lawn owners, as they will grow fast and tall and will be conspicuous by their flat rosette leaves, which will spoil the even lush green appearance of a beautiful lawn. If this type of plant becomes a persistent problem it is usually down to poor drainage, mowing your lawn too short and under feeding it. This now becomes an issue that you will want to control in your lawn.

As these weeds are deep rooted and the majority are a perennial plant, any digging will usually not remove the entire root. There will be fragments of root left that will sprout and soon this persistent weed will return unless controlled correctly.

Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

creeping thistle lawn weeds growing in a lawnA common weed problematic for freshly seeded lawns and those that have bare patches. This weed forms large clumps of spiny leaves and flowering stems which grow between 1ft – 3 ft high in grass and uncultivated soils. The leaves are typical of the thistle family displaying pinky purple flowers in July to September. Its spiky leaves make it very difficult to walk or sit on your garden lawn.

It spreads using lateral roots. These roots are very brittle and reshoot when broken. This weed is a real problem for your lawn, the roots grow horizontally producing buds at intervals, developing shoots. Digging up creeping thistles causes problems because the roots easily regenerate from broken pieces.


Daisy (Bellis perennis)

daisy lawn weeds growing in a lawnOne of the most recognisable lawn weeds. This perennial weed has a yellow centre surrounded by white petals, it grows approximately 3 inch. They will appear from Spring to Early Autumn.

It is resilient to regular mowing, often needing a daisy grubber for quickly lifting and removing the weeds. It is resilient to most soil conditions. It can survive in closely mown lawns due to its round leaves which grow very close to the ground. Even though the Daisy is not a real problem for your lawn they should be removed to enable you to get a lush green lawn that is even in colour and appearance.



Broad-Leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)

broad-leaf dock lawn weeds growing in a lawnBroad-leaved dock is most commonly found in neglected lawns. They can survive drought and poorly nourished soil conditions due to their very deep tap roots.

It is not too difficult to permanently control this type of weed, provided that the correct timing of herbicide is applied.



Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

common ragwort lawn weeds growing in a lawn

Ragwort is more common on poorly maintained and neglected lawns.

It is one of the few biennial weeds, living only two years and flowering in its second year. However, any damage to the base of the plant can make the plant behave like a perennial, as new rosettes are formed.

Ragwort is a tall erect plant growing to approximately 3ft, bearing large flat-topped clusters of yellow daisy-like flowers from July to October. It has a basal rosette with finely divided leaves. It is not too difficult to control.


Greater Plantain (Plantago major)

Greater Plintain lawn weeds growing in a lawnGreater Plantain is a common weed, found on all types of lawns throughout the UK. It has a deep root system, able to withstand both water logging and drought conditions. It has flat rosette of substantial leaves with deep tap roots. These roots can grow again when the top of the plant is cut off. If it is not controlled I will take the nutrients and light from your lawn killing it off and leaving bare patches in your lawn. It flowers from May to September with the flowers pollinated by wind.


If you think your lawn might be suffering from weeds why not take advantage of the Lawnscience lawn review service. One of our fully trained lawn care professionals will be happy to arrange a free lawn review with you, during which they will identify the issue(s) and provide you with a fully costed solution for you to consider. To take advantage of this opportunity just contact us.