Common Garden Weeds


Determining which plants are weeds and which are not can be tricky at best. In order to eliminate weeds, they must first be identified. Then you can determine the best way to proceed with eliminating them from your property.

What are weeds?

First, you must know something about weeds. They can be catergorized by structure, size, shape, and appearance. There are three different kinds of weeds.

Weeds can be classified as grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds, and wood and vining weeds. Weeds may also be annuals or perennials. In order to prevent weeds from growing, you need to know something about the weeds.

A grassy weed is any plant that is not wanted in the lawn. Grassy weeds are hard to identify because they look so similar to the grass in which they grow. Herbicides are the most common way of controlling most grassy weeds.

Broadleaf weeds are on of the easiest weeds to identify. They are physically different from grassy weeds. Their physiological differences allow them to be treated without killing the surrounding plants. Application to each leaf on this weed helps control the spreading and helps kill the weed. These weeds, if not controlled will take over and become a nuisance.

Wood and vining weeds display a vine-like growth. They are usually invasive. They may grow up and on other plants. They sometimes kill other plants. They are considered aggressive but can be very attractive. Some people even use them as ornamental plants.

One of the most common weeds that grows as a vine is ivy, brambles & tree ivy. Wood and vining weeds are usually controlled by cutting them repeatedly. Herbicides can also be used on them.

Be careful when dealing with vining weeds since some of them contain a poison in them that can cause a skin irritation and be painful. Some even require medication and a doctor's visit in order to eliminate. It is also a good idea to use gloves when dealing with some of these weeds.

How to eliminate weeds

To eliminate weeds, professionals agree on several methods. One way to keep weeds away is to practice prevention. In other words, don't let them start. Another strategy that has already been addressed is identify weeds before planning an attack. Each type of week requires unique weed killers or methods of application.

Using the correct amount in application is also important. For perennial weeds, the best method is eliminating them one by one. It can take longer but in the end it will pay off. Some weeds need a pre-emergence controller to prevent germination.

Sometimes using mulch can be your best way to slow down grassy weeds. No sun, very little growth.

People who love a beautiful lawn, labor tirelessly to prevent weeds. Sometimes working with weeds is the best way to learn about them. Each individual working with weeds can find the combination of diligence and herbicides to keep his or her yard looking it's best.

Preventive strategies may eliminate the return of some pesky weeds but there are always new weeds to deal with. Learn your weeds and learn what works best for you and your yard.

Common UK Garden Weeds

White Clover - Trifolium repens

A very recognisable weed found in lawns and turf. White Clover is a perennial weed meaning that it returns year after year. This low growing weed has creeping runners that travel along the surface and can quickly colonise a lawn and choke out the grass in a short period of time.

The leaves are a characteristic shape, divided into three leaflets, occasionally found as four which deemed to be lucky!

The flowers are often found above the leaves, generally white in appearance and found throughout the summer. This plant prefers good quality soils and is found less in dry or shady conditions.

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale

The Dandelion is a common perennial weed that forms a large flat rosette. It is a perennial plant but spreads readily from seed, germinating throughout the year. It has a long stout tap root which makes it very difficult to pull out of the ground successfully. The Dandelion leaves which have many health benefits are long and fleshy with characteristic teeth and can grow to a significant size.

The single yellow flower grows from the centre of the rosette and is a vibrant yellow which can be seen from March to November. The seeds are wind borne and are readily found germinating especially along the edges of paths.

Creeping Buttercup - Ranunculus repens

The Creeping Buttercup is a low growing perennial weed which prefers wet heavy soils. It is a common weed in lawns in the UK and as the name suggests, it spreads using creeping stems that run along the surface of the ground, extending upwards into a new plant on a regular basis. The roots are very fibrous and dense, this weed is difficult to remove permanently as it takes several years to weaken the plant.

The bright yellow flowers have 6 to 9 petals each and can be seed from mid spring to late summer.

Birds-Foot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus

Birds-foot trefoil is a perennial lawn weed and is also a member of the clover family. It can be a major problem on UK lawns as it forms large patches, it has a deep root system and spreads by both stolons and rhizomes (above and underground runners).

Like clover, the leaf has 3 leaflets on a short stalk with two more leaflets at the base of the stalk which can grow knee high if left alone.

The flowers are bright yellow and pretty and resemble those of the Honeysuckle. They can be seen from late April until late September. Birds-Foot Trefoil can tolerate a wide variety of soil types but prefers non acidic, dry soils.

Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

Yarrow is a perennial weed, common weed on all types of lawns and turf in the UK. It has deep fibrous roots and can withstand droughty conditions.

It spreads by creeping stems which root at intervals. It is generally seen later in the year and the deep root system also gives it the benefit of being able to survive dry conditions. The leaves are fern like in appearance macking it very easy to identify.

Scarlet Pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis

Scarlet Pimpernel is an annual weed meaning that it only lasts one year, fresh plants need to grow from seed. This means it is rarely a threat to a well maintained lawn.

The leaves are very similar to Common Chickweed but can be identified by its square stems and red flower. The distinct flowers of Scarlet Pimpernel can be seen from June - September. Each flower has five petals and are an orange - red colour.

Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris

Selfheal is a common weed on all types of lawn throughout the UK. This perennial weed spreads by creeping runners known as rhizomes, which root at intervals.

It can quite happily grow in closely mown areas of turf although if left alone, it will grow to a height of 30cm and produce an attractive plant.

This plant can thrive in most conditions, the leaves appear in pars and in closely mown areas, they may have a purple ting. Selfheal flowers from June to October, producing a bright purple flower.

Mouse-ear Chickweed - Cerastium vulgatum

Mouse-ear Chickweed is a perennial weed and is very common on lawns throughout in the UK. It can be very annoying as it can spread very rapidly, smothering grass in the process. It can easily survive close mowing but can be controlled with selective herbicides. The small dark green leaves are distinctive in that they are very hairy.

The flowers are very small and upright and white in colour appearing from late spring up to autumn.

Common Chickweed - Stellaria media

Common Chickweed is an annual weed but very rapidly growing weed. It is only really a problem in gappy lawns or freshly seeded areas as it cannot cope with close mowing.

The plant has pairs of leaves which are fleshy with a consistency of lettuce. The flowers are small and white with 5 petals although it looks like 10 with the deep lobes. It flowers from February to November.

Creeping Cinquefoil - Potentilla reptans

Creeping Cinquefoil is a perennial weed, more common on neglected lawns and turf in the UK. It is rarely a problem on well maintained lawns. It spreads by creeping stems which root at intervals.

The leaves are distinctive with five different segments with toothed edges. The flowers are yellow, again with five large fleshy petals which are visible from June to October.

Slender Speedwell - Veronica filiformis

Slender Speedwell is a perennial weed which can be a persistent problem on lawns throughout the UK. It spreads by both underground and over ground runners.

Control can be achieved with current chemicals but this needs correct timing and adjuvants.

Slender Speedwell is more of a problem in closely mown turf than Germander Speedwell.

Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys

Germander Speedwell is a perennial weed also known as Bird's-eye Speedwell. The leaves are kidney shaped and have prominent veins. The flowers can be seen between mid to late June.

Germander Speedwell can survive in all soil types but it is most common in damper conditions.

Lesser Celandine - Ranunculus ficaria

Lesser Celandine is usually one of the most prominent weeds seen early in the spring. The flower is one of the first to show among lawn weeds but the plant soon disappears as the weather warms up.

This is difficult to control in a permanent sense as it needs to be hit early each year to weaken it. More commonly found in darker shady areas.

The leaves are fleshy and dark green, very easily recognised.

Ribwort Plantain - Plantago lanceolata

Very similar to greater plantain in habit and location, albeit the leaves are long and thin.

This plant is very drought tolerant and it can cause unsightly patches, easy however to remove using the correct selective herbicides.

Red Clover - Trifolium pratense

Red Clover is a perennial weed found on all types of lawn lawns throughout in the UK.

Being larger than white clover, it is more noticeable in lawns as it tends to grow more upright, hence it is more noticeable.

The flowers and leaves are larger than those of white clover. Red Clover flowers from May to October.

Common Ragwort - Senecio jacobaea

Ragwort is rarely a problem on fine lawns but is more common on low maintenance and neglected lawns.

It is a biennial weed meaning that it produces lots of leaf in year one with the aim to produce a significant number of flowers in year two.

It is not difficult to control in lawns.


Not ever strategy will work for every weed. Businesses that sell plants and products will be a great resource for you and your problems with weeds.

While each person chooses different paths to eliminate weeds from their lawn, it is important to know what you are dealing with in order to save time and money. It can be very frustrating to work and work and still find weeds in your beautiful lawn. No the facts. Do your research and be knowledgeable so that you can take care of weeds and enjoy your beautiful outdoor space.

There are also many websites and books that are available for your use. One key to fighting weeds is the knowledge of knowing what and how to deal with them. Take time and know what you are dealing with and how to deal with it.

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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