In the perpetual quest for a pristine lawn, weeds are a prevalent unwanted guest that pops up and invades your coveted turfgrass.
These out-of-place plants are unsightly, and when left unchecked, they can also outcompete your grass, flowers, and plants for nutrition. Your lawn will become untidy, and eventually, your lawn may wither. In vegetable gardens, the presence of weeds can also reduce crop yields.
While some harmless and attractive weeds may be welcome, poisonous and invasive weeds are best removed—and the first step to controlling them is identifying them. This will allow you to properly remove and prevent weeds in your yard while protecting your landscaping from potential damage.
Most Common Weeds in Florida Lawns
Weeds are broadly defined as any plants that grow where they are not intended to be. However, certain garden weed species are particularly troublesome, reproducing fast and quickly taking over your yard. Continue reading for the list of the most common weeds in Florida lawns and some tips on how to get rid of them.
1. Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
Dandelions look beautiful with small yellow flowers that mature into round puffballs full of dandelion seeds. However, they can easily overcrowd the grass in your lawn and become pesky invaders. Because this common perennial weed has a deep tap root, it’s hard to kill it by non-chemical methods, and the best way to get rid of it is by hand-pulling or cutting it from the root.
2. Florida Pusley – Richardia scabra L.
Florida pusley is an annual weed that grows small, white flowers in clumps at the end of its creeping stems. It can be particularly problematic because it quickly produces seeds and takes over the yard in just a few weeks. It creates unsightly thick patches and has the potential to suffocate thin grasses. Regular mowing and hand-pulling can effectively control this weed. Using weed killers early in its growing season, preferably in its seedling to flower stage, may also help prevent its further spread.
3. Common Chickweed – Stellaria media
Common chickweed is an annual broadleaf weed that grows in shady areas with moist soil. It is characterized by its small, daisy-like white flowers, egg-shaped leaves that taper to points and stems with a line of hairs on one side. Getting rid of chickweed poses a challenge due to its robust and adaptable nature–it can withstand wear and tear and endure dry conditions. It usually requires a multi-step approach to effectively remove this weed.
4. White Clover – Trifolium repens
Some homeowners appreciate white clover because it adds nitrogen to the soil, which helps grow edible plants. However, this creeping weed grows near the ground and spreads rapidly across lawns. Manage cloves in small, landscaped areas by hand-pulling or mulching your garden beds.
5. Bull Thistle – Cirsium vulgare
Bull thistle is a biennial weed that starts a spiny-leaved rosette and develops into a woody stalk with purple flowers. It is highly invasive, forming dense thickets and roots that can grow several feet on the ground. Although challenging, you can dig the weed out by hand to prevent further spread.
6. Crabgrass – Digitaria sanguinalis L.
Crabgrass is a familiar lawn intruder recognized by its flat, yellow-green blades with hairy edges, coarse texture, and a sharp point. It thrives at ground level and creeps across lawns, with its green leaves reaching up to five inches long. It produces seeds, so proactive measures such as using pre- and post-emergent herbicides are necessary to target existing plants and prevent seed germination, thus impeding the regrowth of crabgrass in the following year.
7. Yellow Woodsorrel – Oxalis stricta
The yellow woodsorrel, also called yellow oxalis, sheep’s clover, shamrock, sour grass, and sleeping beauty, is a weed that can adapt to various conditions but favors moist soil and shady areas. It has three heart-shaped leaves with small, bright yellow flowers. Regular weeding, mowing, and using a pre-emergent herbicide are some of the effective measures to manage its growth.
8. Matchweed – Lippia nodiflora
Matchweed, or frog fruit, is a creeping perennial weed that thrives in moist soils. It has bright green leaves with small teeth at the outer tip. Its network of stems grows close to the ground and forms dense mats on the turf. You may also recognize it for its tiny white or light pink flowers that bloom year-round. Implementing measures that control moisture levels and using herbicides tailored for broadleaf weed control can effectively prevent its growth.
9. Dollarweed – Hydrocotyle spp.
Also called pennywort, dollarweed is a perennial weed that thrives in Florida's warm weather. It has shiny, round, coin-shaped leaves, thus its name. It is an edible weed, and while some appreciate its visual appeal for ground cover, it can become problematic if left unchecked. Using chemical herbicides can effectively remove it without damaging your grass.
10. Quackgrass – Agropyron repens
Quackgrass, also known as witch grass or devil grass, is an invasive weed that spreads and regenerates quickly after cutting. It is often mistaken for crabgrass—however, it grows upright, in contrast to the sprawling nature of crabgrass. Selective, post-emergent herbicides can effectively control quackgrass without causing harm to your grass.
11. Canada Thistle — Cirsium arvense
Canada thistle is a perennial weed with an extensive root system. It features alternate, lance-shaped leaves and smooth stems with occasional short hairs. This garden weed is most recognizable with its purple, pink, or white flowers that bloom in fall or early spring. Regular mowing at least every three weeks can help deplete its root systems and effectively manage its spread.
12. Horsetail Weed – Equisetum arvense
Although horsetail is a garden weed usually found along roadsides, ponds, and ditches, it can also find its way to your garden. It spreads by spores carried by the wind and grows an intensive root system, making it difficult to eliminate them. It may be possible to dig horsetail up by the roots in small patches. However, make sure to remove all roots to keep the perennial weeds from resurfacing.
13. Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica
Stinging nettles are perennial weeds that spread across the ground. They are characterized by their dark green leaves and small green flowers that bloom in summer. While they offer some benefits, stinging nettles can grow out of control and compete with other plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. To remove stinging nettles, use a fork to uproot the plants or cut them down in early summer before they flower. For overgrown nettles, you can also tackle them with a weedkiller.
14. Torpedo Grass – Panicum repens
Torpedo grass is a persistent perennial grass known for its flat, waxy light green leaves and pink or white flowers. It can quickly spread across a lawn and grow up to two feet tall, thus crowding out other plants. When left unchecked, its extensive root system can lead to soil erosion, so removing as much of this common lawn weed as early as possible is essential.
15. Poison Ivy – Toxicodendron radicans
Poison ivy is one of the typical perennial plants that grows as a vine, trailing along the ground or ascending trees and fences, thus forming lush green mats. Hand-pulling or cutting it down to ground level can effectively control small patches of poison ivy but requires close contact. Alternatively, you can use chemicals to prevent poison ivy from further spreading while limiting your exposure to the plant.
Why You Should Pull Weeds From Your Lawn
No one wants weeds in their lawn—at homes or in their business properties. They compete with your desired plants and grass for nutrients, water, and sunlight. They also reduce your property aesthetics by creating unsightly weed patches and, in some cases, attracting unwanted insects.
Unfortunately, we face a constant battle against lawn weeds as they grow fast and reproduce in many different ways. It is why a proactive, multi-faceted approach that involves weed-pulling, mulching, or using a post-emergent herbicide is necessary to reduce the likelihood of weeds taking over your lawns.
Getting rid of weeds is particularly necessary if you plan on laying sod on your lawn. When left unaddressed, weeds will survive underground and eventually work their way through your brand-new sod.
How to Get Rid of Weeds Before Laying Sod
In addition to the tips above, below are some practical ways to remove garden weeds and prepare your lawn for laying sod.
Premium Quality Grass Sod by Bethel Farms
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We maintain the highest standards in sod farming to guarantee the quality of the grass we supply to your lawns.
Experience weed-free lawn with Bethel Farms sod. Visit our website to shop the latest and most premium grass varieties available.