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Broadleaf Weeds

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist


Dandelions are the most common of the perennial weeds in cool-season grasses and are easily distinguished by their yellow flowers and white round seed heads that children seem to like to blow in the air. Dandelions usually flower in the spring and can last until winter's first frost.

  • Getting Rid of It: The best way to get rid of Dandelions is to simply dig them up from the roots before they fully develop and spread their seeds.

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Dock and Curly Dock

Curly Dock
Curly Dock

Dock is a broadleaf perennial weed with long leaves and a kind of wavy or curly edge. Leaves tend to grow out from the middle and spread horizontally. In the summer, it will send up a flower from the middle of the plant containing, guess what, seeds!

  • Getting Rid of It: Dock thrives in the fall, spring, wet conditions, and shade. Therefore, you may want try try the following:
    1. Mowing: try to bag your clippings when weeds are present (especially during summer months).
    2. Watering, try to water in intervals to allow the top of the soil dry slightly between waterings. Additionally, you may need to improved the drainage of the lawn if weeds form in areas that either pool water or water drains through.
    3. Hand-pull each weed, including its roots, prior to and/or after the weed's establishment in the lawn.
    4. Fertilize your lawn with a pre-emergence or weed control in the spring and fall as needed.


Spurge (Spotted or Prostrate)


Spurge is an annual weed that tends to thrive during the warm summer months and spreads out rapidly from singular roots along the ground. Often noted for their hairy or purplish-red spotted leaves and red stems, spurges tend to grow in circular-like formations along the lawn and/or plants.

  • Getting Rid of It: Spurges are best controlled through proper lawn maintenance and care. A nice, densely grow lawn will usually crowd-out spurge. However, if present, the best way to rid of spurge it to pull it, and its roots, from the ground. Weed control products can also be applied, but make sure that if applied over your lawn, it will not damage your lawn at the same time. Finally, the best way to prevent spurge is to properly fertilize your lawn with a pre-emergence or weed control in the spring and/or fall to prevent weed germination.


Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy is a cool-season perennial weed that tends to thrive in areas with shade and mild temperatures. They are distinguishable by their leaves that have round scalloped edges and purple flowers in the early summer.

  • Getting Rid of It: Ground Ivy is not easy to get rid of, and it is best to try to remove any signs of it during early development and growth. Most lawns will help prevent its development through proper fertilizing in the spring and/or fall and watering. The best method for removal is to pull the weed and its roots by hand. If it spreads over an extended area, you can use a herbicide designed to control its growth (read the labels).

Chickweed (Annual and Perennial)


Chickweed is often distinguished by its heart-shaped leaves with white flowers (annual) or its creeping stems (perennial).

  • Getting Rid of It: Chickweed tends to thrive in shaded and damp areas, therefore, proper water drainage and fertilization are important to preventing its growth. If established, it is best to pull them up from the ground with their roots. When mowing (especially during summer months) try to bag your clippings to prevent their proliferation.




Plantain is a cool-season perennial that is recognized by its glossy green leafs that grow in an oval shape, up to 7 inches long in some cases. It also has a narrow flower stem that protrudes from the center upwards. Plantains are often found in damp and/or highly compacted soils.

  • Getting Rid of It: Plantains are best controlled if they are pulled up by hand when they are not yet well-established. Since they tend to grow shallow roots, this task can be rather easy. Proper fertilization with pre-emergence and weed-control will help prevent its growth. When watering, do so in intervals to let the top of the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Additionally, improved drainage of the lawn may be needed if weeds are forming in areas that either pool water or water drains through. If your soil is highly compacted, you may need to aerate your lawn, as well.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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