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Identifying lawn weeds

identifying lawn weeds
The first step in the battle against lawn weeds is the process of being able to identify them. And without knowing what they are you won't be able to diagnose a solution to eliminating them from your lawns. Once we've identified these lawn weeds we can begin to find solutions to removing them and hopefully keeping them from returning to our lawns.

While identifying lawn weeds is the aim of this post I also hope to give you some alternatives to eradicating and controlling them. Any gardener can pour a heap of chemical onto the problem and hope it will sort itself out but there are other measures that can be taken including organic remedies.

cudweed identifying lawn weeds
Identifying cudweed is quite easy. It's an annual broadleaf weed that grows on a single stem with soft, furry silver leaves that grow larger at the leaf end. Cudweed will only grow about 10-15cm (4-6in) and usually grows alone rather than in clumps.

For single removal try removing it by hand making sure that you pull the complete taproot out. This should be done well in advance of the sight of any flowers and if it is already flowering try to remove the weed carefully without spilling any seed. Once removed, cover the hole with a mixture of coarse sand and fertiliser and water in well.

For large infestations of cudweed you may have to resort to a selective herbicide or a spot treatment that will eliminate the infestation.


Bindii is Australia's worst lawn weed. It grows in a prostrate behaviour during the winter and early spring months setting its yellow flowers in mid-late spring. These flowers then die back during the beginning summer months and produce hard little thorny balls. These balls act like Velcro and were actually the inspiration for the invention, adhering themselves to anything that is soft enough to accommodate their presence.

It's hard to identify bindii in your lawn if you're not keeping an eye on it but as it spreads over the seasons you will notice dark green patches emerge. Once the flowers have turned into their little balls it's too late to try and poison them as they have already seeded ready for the following year.

Eliminating bindii is best once they start to spread and before they begin flowering. Removal by hand is quite easy or if there are too many to do manually, spot treating them with a herbicide is just as effective.

plantain identifying lawn weeds

There are many types of plantain weeds but the most common is the broadleaf variety. It is common lawn weed whose leaves resemble the dandelion but doesn't stalk its flowers in the same manner.

If not removing it by hand try a selective herbicide once the rosette has opened up and it is setting its flowers.

White Dutch Clover
white dutch clover identifying lawn weeds

Many gardeners grow this type of clover as a lawn substitute, obviously not mowing it, and allow the little yellow and white flowers to dot their landscape. Known as Trifolium repens (repens meaning to crawl along the ground) this is a weed that can wreak havoc on your lawn if you let it get away. It has a great success rate to self-seed and as such can cover a lawn very quickly.

Success in removing this weed from your lawn is determined by how quickly you identify it and begin removing it. They're not hard to manually remove from the soil but once a lawn is infested the only way to remove them is via an herbicide. Apply while the clover is flowering and only selectively.

If the infestation of clover has almost completely covered your lawn the only method of removal may be to pour on glyphosate and replant your lawn next season. Or, put up with it and tell everyone that you always wanted to grow clover as an alternative to lawn.

Cats Ear
cats ear identifying lawn weeds

For a weed this has an enormous variety of names used to describe itself. False dandelion, flatweed, hairy cat's ear, hairy wild lettuce etc are just some of them. Whatever you decide to call it, it still remains a weed.

This is so common that most gardeners would have found it in their lawn at some stage. Cat's ears large flat leaves lie flat on the ground smothering everything that it covers. It acts as a natural soil solariser but unfortunately kills your lawn instead of the weeds.

There are two ways to address this type of weed. Obviously the first method is to eradicate them either manually or by using a spot glyphosate on the centre of the weed. The second method is to actually keep them in your lawn but continually mow them. The reason for this is that cat's ear has an amazingly long taproot that can bring many nutrients to the surface and actually help your lawn grow healthier.

However, this second method is a gamble. If you don't mow them well enough they can continue to grow and eventually take over. I would recommend allowing them to grow for a few regular mowing periods and then treat them.

Nut Grass

Oh... How I hate this weed! It is the hardest the manually pull out and the hardest to remove with herbicides as most common brands fail to successfully eliminate them. Nut grass is a spindly weed that grows from a small bulb reminiscent of a hazelnut. It's tough, strappy foliage is hard to get a grip on and the bulb anchors itself well into the ground.

The best chemical to eliminate nut grass without killing your lawn is Halosulfuron-methyl. You will need to repeat spray the nut grass until it's completely removed but it will do the job for you.

Whatever you do, don't try and mow your weeds hoping that this will solve your problems (apart from the cat's ears). It will only create more as the root that's left in the ground will become more and more proactive and return quicker and stronger.

stuart robinson
  • Stuart Robinson
  • Busselton, Australia
  • Email Me

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