Virginia weeds (The most common you will find)

Virginia is home to a wide variety of weeds that can be challenging to control and can quickly spread throughout lawns and gardens. These weeds can have a negative impact on the health and appearance of your lawn, as well as compete with desirable plants for nutrients and water.

Some of these weeds can also be harmful to pets and people. It is important to take proactive measures to prevent the growth and spread of Virginia weeds, including maintaining a healthy lawn through regular mowing, watering, and fertilization, as well as using pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides to control their growth.

common weeds in virginia

Table of Contents

Virginia weeds

Name of weed Family
Annual Bluegrass Poaceae
Bittercress Brassicaceae
Broadleaf Plantain Plantaginaceae
Buttonweed Commelinacea
Carolina geranium Geraniaceae
Chickweed Caryophyllaceae
Clover Apiaceae
Crabgrass Poaceae
Dandelions Asteraceae
Ground Ivy Lamiaceae
Henbit Lamiaceae
Lespedeza Fabaceae
Nutsedge Cyperaceae
Oxalis Oxalidaceae
Purple Deadnettle Mint
Speedwell Plantaginaceae
Spotted Spurge Euphorbiaceae
Wild Garlic Brassicaceae
Wild Onion Amaryllidaceae
Wild Violet Violaceae

Annual Bluegrass

Annual bluegrass, also known as Poa, is a small, tufted grass that is commonly found in lawns. Its light-green to blue-green color and dense mat formation can be problematic as it germinates quickly, out-competing desirable grasses for space, nutrients, and water.

Annual bluegrass produces numerous seeds, leading to a large infestation of lawn weeds if left unchecked. While it dies off during hotter months or a lack of rain, it can also lead to bald spots in lawns. Therefore, it is important to control annual bluegrass to maintain a healthy and attractive lawn.

Type

Annual

Family

Poaceae

Control

Crowding out the annual bluegrass with a thick lawn is the most effective way to eliminate it. Alternatively, you can let your lawn dry out by watering it less frequently, or use a shovel to dig it out. If bald patches appear after removing the annual bluegrass, you can simply put down some new grass seed.

Annual Bluegrass

Bittercress

Bittercress is an annual broadleaf weed that reproduces by spreading its seed. It has a bitter taste and thrives in sunny, moist areas of lawns or gardens. The plant can be identified by its small white flowers and its tendency to spread out over the ground.

Bittercress is a challenging weed to control because it can quickly spread and germinate from even the slightest soil disturbance. Additionally, it can withstand some herbicides, making it important to choose the right product for effective control.

Type

Broadleaf Annual

Family

Brassicaceae

Control

Maintaining a healthy and dense lawn can prevent weed growth and crowd out any that do manage to sprout. To control bittercress, a pre-emergent application during the fall is the most effective method. However, a post-emergent can also be used while the weed is actively growing.

Bittercress

Broadleaf Plantain

Broadleaf plantain is a persistent and aggressive weed that dominates neglected lawns, particularly in damp areas with limited sunlight. The weed has green, oval-shaped leaves that form flat rosettes, with a shallow and thick root system that can grow up to 18 inches long. Broadleaf plantain thrives in compacted soil and disturbed areas such as agricultural lands, open fields, sidewalks, roadsides, and trails. It can tolerate both full sun and partial shade.

Type

Perennial

Family

Plantaginaceae

Control

To prevent broadleaf plantain growth, it is recommended to aerate the lawn in the fall, as the weed thrives in compacted soil. Mowing the lawn at a height of 3-4 inches and seeding any sparse areas can also help keep the weed at bay. However, if the weed still appears, using a broadleaf herbicide is an effective way to eliminate it.

Plantain lily (Hosta sp.)

Buttonweed

Virginia Buttonweed is a broadleaf weed with bright green leaves, yellow flowers, and seeds on long stalks. It is a low-growing weed that is commonly found in lawns, gardens, pastures, and fields throughout Mississippi. This weed thrives in moist soils and reproduces through both seed production and underground rhizomes, which spread rapidly, making it challenging to control.

Type

Perennial Broadleaf

Family

Commelinaceae

Control

Pre-emergent herbicides are the most effective way to control Virginia Buttonweed before it germinates. However, if an infestation has already taken hold, spot treatments with post-emergent herbicides can be used.

It is crucial to identify Virginia Buttonweed correctly and avoid mistaking it for similar weeds, as applying the wrong herbicide can be harmful. Careful application of herbicides is also necessary to prevent damage to desirable plants.

Virginia Buttonweed

Carolina geranium

Carolina Geranium is an annual weed characterized by its small, light green leaves and white flowers. It reproduces through seed production and can rapidly overtake a lawn if left unchecked. 

This weed species thrives in damp environments and is often found in areas with inadequate drainage. Additionally, it can cause skin irritation upon contact, so it is essential to wear protective clothing when handling this weed.

Type

Broadleaf Annual

Family

Geraniaceae

Control

Manual removal of Carolina Geranium is feasible only if the weed has not produced seeds. Pulling out the weed can do more harm than good by spreading its seeds into the lawn. 

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the weed has not yet blossomed before attempting manual removal. If uncertain, it is best to consult a professional for advice on using broadleaf weed killer applications.

Carolina geranium

Chickweed

Chickweed is a creeping winter weed that germinates in cool temperatures and can overtake large areas of gardens or lawns. The weed can be identified by the mats of foliage it forms on the ground and small white flowers. It thrives in moist areas and is challenging to control due to its ability to spread quickly.

Type

Annual

Family

Caryophyllaceae

Control

Preventing the growth of chickweed is the most effective way to keep it from overtaking your lawn. Overwatering can create a moist environment that is ideal for its growth, so it is essential to avoid excessive watering.

Additionally, raising the mower blade, particularly in the fall season, can help prevent chickweed from taking root by maintaining a higher grass length that shades the soil and prevents the weed from germinating. Regularly monitoring the lawn for the presence of chickweed and promptly removing it by hand or using herbicides can also help control its spread.

Chickweed close up

Clover

Clover is an annual weed with a creeping growth habit and small white flowers that can quickly invade gardens, lawns, and other landscape areas. It is challenging to control due to its fast germination capabilities and can be identified by its small, round leaves with a distinct clover-like odor when crushed.

Clover thrives in moist soil and can grow in both full sun and partial shade conditions. The most effective way to prevent clover from spreading is by implementing proper maintenance practices such as regular mowing and removing dead foliage.

Type

Perennial Broadleaf

Family

Apiaceae

Control

To control clover growth, a pre-emergent application in the fall is recommended. Maintaining a healthy and fertilized lawn can also help prevent clover from growing. In case clover takes hold, post-emergent herbicides can help control it. 

Using a mulching mower to grind the weed down can also help reduce its spread. Additionally, applying certain nematodes to lawns can naturally manage clover infestations.

early fall white clover

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a low-growing weed that spreads out horizontally, resembling a crab’s legs. It has flat, green leaves that point outward and finger-like florets, with spreading and branched stems. 

The weed’s roots develop at the nodes on prostrate stems. Crabgrass thrives in dry and hot conditions and is commonly found in disturbed areas of weedy meadows, prairies, lawns, and gardens, as well as fields, vacant lots, grassy paths, and along roads and railroads.

Type

Annual

Family

Poaceae

Control

Regularly mowing the lawn can help control the growth and spread of crabgrass. However, the most effective way to prevent the weed from taking hold in a lawn or garden is through a pre-emergent herbicide application. This herbicide should be sprayed in the spring when crabgrass is actively growing.

crabgrass stems

Dandelions

Dandelions are a perennial weed that is hardy and can survive freezing temperatures. The weed produces blooms that emerge from a single stem, with flat, spear-shaped leaves that produce a milky sap.

Seed heads can also be seen emerging from the flowers, which children often pluck and blow across gardens, aiding in the weed’s rapid seed spreading. Dandelions prefer acidic soils, and controlling these weeds in virginia can be challenging since their far-reaching seed pods can sprout hundreds of new shoots.

Type

Perennial

Family

Asteraceae

Control

Hand-pulling is an effective method to remove dandelions, but it is crucial to pull out the entire plant to prevent regrowth. Since dandelions germinate quickly, pre-emergent herbicides are not very effective. 

Experts suggest using post-emergent herbicides to minimize the spread of dandelions, but it is essential to apply them properly to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Dandelions

Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy is a fast-spreading perennial broadleaf weed that can overtake areas in lawns. It is recognizable by its kidney-shaped leaves and small, purple flowers. 

When crushed or mowed, the weed emits a distinct sweet smell. Ground ivy often invades damp, shady areas where turf growth is weak. The weed’s stems are four-sided and have a fuzzy appearance.

Type

Perennial

Family

Lamiaceae

Control

Controlling Ground Ivy can be challenging due to its aggressive growth habit. To remove this weed more effectively from your lawn, it is recommended to regularly mow the lawn as short as possible and use post-emergent herbicides to spot-treat the weeds. Additionally, applying pre-emergent herbicides can be helpful.

young ground ivy

Henbit

Henbit is an annual broadleaf weed with a low-growing habit that can rapidly spread and take over areas in lawns with weak turf throughout the growing season. The weed’s leaves are oval-shaped and serrated at the edges, while its flowers are tubular and purple in color. 

With a fibrous root system, Henbit can grow up to a maximum height of 16 inches. Its reddish-purple flowers have dark spots on the lower petals and typically germinate in either fall or winter.

Type

Annual

Family

Lamiaceae

Control

Roundup is effective in controlling Henbit, but it should only be applied when the weed is actively growing. The most effective way to control Henbit is by maintaining healthy lawns through regular watering and fertilization. Additionally, pre-emergent herbicides can help prevent new weeds from germinating.

Henbit

Lespedeza

Lespedeza, also known as Japanese clover, is a low-growing weed that thrives in dry, thin, and compact turf. It can be identified by its wiry stems and dark green trifoliate leaves arranged in groups of three, with oval and smooth leaflets. As the plant matures and the stem becomes woody, it produces pink or purple flowers.

Type

Annual

Family

Fabaceae

Control

To prevent lespedeza from taking hold, it is essential to maintain a well-fertilized lawn and follow a regular mowing schedule. Pre-emergent herbicides can be effective in controlling this weed. Additionally, post-emergence applications of triazine herbicides are known to control lespedeza.

Sericea Lespedeza

Nutsedge

Nutsedge, also known as nutgrass due to its grass-like appearance, can be easily identified by its yellow flowers and sharp-edged, bright green leaves. The weed thrives in moist soil and quickly spreads throughout gardens and lawns. Due to the presence of several tubers in each plant, controlling nutsedge can be challenging. Pulling out a single tuber can activate other dormant tubers, resulting in an increase in the number of plants.

Type

Perennial

Family

Cyperaceae

Control

Regularly maintaining the garden or lawn can help control the spread of nutsedge. This includes appropriate mowing and watering schedules. Additionally, post-emergent herbicides are known to be effective treatments for nutsedge. The herbicide should be applied when the weed is actively growing.

Nutsedge

Oxalis

Oxalis, also known as Yellow Woodsorrel or Sourgrass, is a low-growing weed that has three leaflets that resemble clovers. It is easily recognizable by its yellow flowers, which bloom during the summer months. Oxalis thrives in moist areas of lawns and gardens and prefers full sun. This weed is particularly difficult to control because it produces numerous seeds and can quickly spread throughout the lawn or garden.

Type

Perennial

Family

Oxalidaceae

Control

Oxalis thrives in compacted soil, making it essential to core aerate your lawn every year to prevent the weed from taking hold. Post-emergent weed control is an effective way to manage Oxalis, and it should be applied while the weed is actively growing for maximum effectiveness.

It is important to note that Oxalis produces numerous seeds, which can remain dormant in the soil for several years, making it crucial to take proactive measures to prevent the weed’s growth and spread.

Oxalis

Purple Deadnettle

Purple deadnettle is a member of the mint family and can be identified by its square-shaped stem. It produces purple flowers that bloom in the early spring and can continue into late spring and summer, making it a common sight in lawns and gardens during these seasons.

The leaves of this weed are fuzzy and have a reddish-purple hue to them, making it easy to spot amidst the grass. Purple deadnettle is a prolific seed producer, which can quickly spread and take over areas of the lawn or garden if left unchecked.

Type

Annual

Family

Mint

Control

To control Purple Deadnettle, it is important to take a multi-faceted approach. One of the most effective ways to manage this weed is through regular mowing, which can prevent the weed from producing flowers and seeds. Additionally, hand-pulling can be effective for small infestations. For larger infestations, post-emergent herbicides can be used to control the weed.

It is important to apply the herbicide when the weed is actively growing for maximum effectiveness. Finally, maintaining a healthy lawn or garden through proper watering, fertilization, and aeration can help prevent the growth and spread of Purple Deadnettle.

Deadnettle

Speedwell

Speedwell is a low-growing weed that blooms early in the year, typically from March to May, with long-stemmed, bright blue flowers. It can form dense patches in gardens or lawns and has slender stems and small leaves. The stems are well-branched, hairy, and almost horizontal. Speedwell thrives in moist conditions and prefers loamy soil, making it common in grassy areas such as meadows, lawns, and pastures, as well as waste grounds, woods, and hedgerows.

Type

Annual or Perennial

Family

Plantaginaceae

Control

To control speedwells, specific broadleaf weed herbicides are commonly used. Pre-emergent herbicides can be effective in controlling annual speedwell species. For post-emergence control of these weeds, herbicides containing a combination of triclopyr and dicamba tend to be effective against corn speedwell.

Speedwell

Spotted Spurge

Spurge is a warm-season weed that is commonly found in container nurseries. It produces greenish-white flowers, and when its leaves or stems are broken, a milky sap exudes. 

There are several types of spurge, including ground spurge and spotted spurge, which are similar in appearance, with prostrate to ascending stems carrying oblong or round leaves.

Spurge can be found in a variety of locations, including grasslands, pastures, roadsides, and prairies. This weed species is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, making it a common sight in many areas.

Type

Perennial

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Control

Hand-pulling can be an effective method for removing a small patch of spurge. However, prevention is the primary method for dealing with this weed, as controlling it can be challenging once it has taken root. 

Various post-emergent herbicides can be used to control spurge invasions in gardens or lawns. It is crucial to apply the herbicide when the weed is actively growing for maximum effectiveness.

Spurges

Wild Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is a biennial flowering plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. In early spring, its roots and new leaves emit a garlic-like odor. The weed’s kidney-shaped leaves become smaller towards the top of the stem, and its small, white flowers have four petals, four sepals, and six stamens.

Type

Biennial

Family

Brassicaceae

Control

Hand-pulling is an effective method for controlling Garlic mustard, as even mature plants can be easily removed. However, it is essential to dig out all of the roots to prevent regrowth. 

Spot spraying herbicides in the spring and autumn is also an effective way to control Garlic mustard invasion. Care should be taken to apply the herbicide only to the affected area, as it can also harm other plants if not used properly.

Garlic mustard

Wild Onion

Wild Onions are easily identified by their tall, green leaves and white clusters of bulbs. When crushed or cut into pieces, the bulbs emit a strong onion-like scent, making it easy to distinguish them from other plants. 

Wild Onions prefer full sun and can thrive in lawns that lack regular maintenance, making them a common sight in neglected areas. These weeds can quickly spread and take over a lawn or garden if left unchecked, making it essential to take proactive measures to control their growth.

Type

Perennial

Family

Amaryllidaceae

Control

Post-emergent weed control is the most effective way to get rid of Wild Onions in your lawn. Unfortunately, there is no pre-emergent weed control that can prevent their growth in the first place.

It is important to apply the herbicide when the weed is actively growing for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lawn through regular mowing, watering, and fertilization can help prevent the growth and spread of Wild Onions.

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Wild Violet

Wild Violets are perennial weeds that can be identified by their heart-shaped leaves and small flowers, which can range in color from purple, blue to white. These weeds have a low-growing habit and prefer moist soil conditions, making them a common sight in lawns and gardens with poor drainage. 

Wild Violets can quickly spread and take over areas of the lawn or garden if left unchecked, making it crucial to take proactive measures to control their growth.

Type

Annual or Perennial

Family

Violaceae

Control

Wild Violets can be challenging to control due to their spreading underground roots. Preventing these weeds from growing in the first place can be achieved by using a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring or fall.

Regularly mowing your lawn can also help keep it healthy and strong enough to outcompete invasive weeds like Wild Violets. It is important to note that once Wild Violets have taken hold, removing them can be difficult, and post-emergent herbicides may be necessary to control their growth.

Wild Violets
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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