Ever wonder what will happen if you don’t remove weeds in your garden? Identifying common garden weeds is the first step in saving your garden from a world of trouble.
Weeds are a real nuisance in the garden. Controlling them can be a challenge, too, especially when you don’t know what’s a weed and what’s not. And unwanted plants like weeds can bring serious threats to British backyards – especially when disposing of them!
So to prevent weeds from overtaking your flower beds, you need to learn to identify the most common UK weeds and how to best deal with them. Break out the tools from your garden shed and use this guide to get started!
- There are three major types of UK weeds you need to look out for. These are annual, lawn, and perennial or woody weeds.
- Some weeds can cause rashes. With this, it’s recommended to use proper clothing and gloves when working around these specific weeds. If necessary, ask for professional help to remove them.
- Several plants fall into the category of weeds. You might even have them in your garden, but you have no idea they’re actually weeds.
- Annual weeds produce tons of seed, so it’s best to hoe them off before they flower. If you want to know how to control weeds without chemicals, check this guide, courtesy of RHS.
Three Major Types of Weeds
There are three major types of weeds, and these are:
- Annual weeds.
- Lawn weeds.
- Perennial weeds or woody weeds.
Annual or weeds last for one year or growing season. Yet they produce lots of seeds for the following year and years afterwards.
A great example of an annual weed is Fat Hen (Chenopodium Album) – the fastest-growing one. Another one is Creeping Woodsorrel (Oxalis Corniculata), a low-growing annual plant.
Lawn weeds, as the name suggests, grow within your lawn. They’re capable of suffocating the grass if overlooked.
Plantains, dandelions, and daisies fall under this category.
Perennial and woody weeds, meanwhile, have a deep root or a fibrous root. So they keep on coming back year after year.
This includes white clover, ground ivy, yellow nutsedge, and dallisgrass.
These weeds can re-grow from even the smallest left-over segment. Hence digging them up can often worsen the problem.
Tools for controlling weeds
Pulling out weeds with your hands can do the job. But sometimes, it pays to have some weeding tools on hand.
There are three essential tools for controlling weeds, and these are:
- Your hands.
- Hoes and hand hoes.
- Herbicides (weed killers).
Using your hands to get rid of those unwanted weeds is by far the easiest and most convenient method. It’s also the quickest way to weed; just get out your knee pads and start pulling.
But there are times when it’s impractical to use your hands alone. This is where hoes come in handy.
A tool like a hoe or garden hoe is perfect for pulling a large clump of tiny weeds up. It even works well for deep tap-rooted weeds.
There are many types of styles of garden hoes you can use. For one, there are multi-purpose hoes like angled Japanese hand hoes. These are great for weeding, digging and cultivating.
For widely dispersed weeds, a scuffle hoe can be your better bet, as it uses a push/pull action.
Last is herbicides, which are designed to kill unwanted plants like pesticides are used to kill pests. There are two types, and these are: synthetic and organic.
Whatever type of herbicide you choose, they should be sprayed sparingly and with great care. Keep in mind that you can’t always be selective enough to know what is a weed and what isn’t.
With that, you can either spray the whole area or spray the weeds individually. But even when you’re careful, chances are some herbicides may splash onto nearby plants.
We recommend using a small brush to spread the herbicide directly onto the weeds you want to kill.
9 Most Common Lawn Weeds to Watch Out For
Now that you know which tool(s) can help you conquer the weeds in your garden, it’s time to learn what are the common lawn weeds could be hiding in your outdoor space.
1. Broad-leaved dock
This weed species can be highly variable, making it hard to identify at times. It grows effectively in open or disturbed patches and in a wide range of soils.
To identify whether your garden has grown broad-leaved docks, the weed has large and oval-shaped green leaves. They bloom between May and October, producing small green/white flowers.
These blooms then will turn brown after pollination. This guide from Hunker might be helpful if you happen to have this type of weed in your garden and want to get rid of it ASAP.
Note: Broadleaf weed is slightly poisonous and can cause sickness in livestock. Plus, the milky sap can lead to milk dermatitis, so be careful when dealing with this one!
2. Couch grass
Couch grass weed can reach up to a height of two metres within one season. It can flourish in any soil condition, as well.
What’s more, couch grass is a common weed throughout England and Wales, and is even more scattered in Scotland.
To identify couch grass, it looks like a more rigid, thicker and longer version of regular grass. It also grows spiky shoots in more varied directions.
So, how do you get rid of couch grass on your lawn? Read this guide from the RHS UK to get started.
3. Hedge bindweed
Also known as morning glory, hedge bindweed is similar to a vine. It’s a perennial weed that twists and turns around other plants, fences and objects.
Hedge bindweed is also a common plant/weed found on riverbanks and in woodlands. It can be identified through its white trumpet-shaped flowers growing from the stem.
Bindweeds usually bloom between June and September. Here’s how you can deal with bindweed, courtesy of Gardeners World.
Lambsquarter is an annual broadleaf weed that usually invades lawns and gardens. It’s best to keep it out of your garden as it harbours viral diseases which can affect other plants.
This weed can be identified with its scalloped leaves with a grey underside. It often folds upward along the central vein.
Lambsquarters usually grow in landscape and garden areas under the sun or shade. What’s more, they can grow up to four feet tall and 18 inches wide.
Feel free to read this guide on lambsquarters control, courtesy of Gardening Know How.
This weed must have stung most people at least once in their lives because of its leaves. It has green, oval-shaped leaves with teeth lining the edges.
Nettle stems are square, and they contain tiny hairs. This weed can grow up to two metres tall.
Although it’s considered a medicinal herb, it can be quite invasive. If overlooked, this also can decrease your property’s curbside appeal.
It can be a big challenge, too, to get rid of stinging nettle. This guide from SFG has everything you need on how to kill nettles.
Trivia: Nettles, despite being known to sting, are one of the edible garden plants you can add to your meal!
Dandelions are one of the most popular and easy to identify weed species. They have a large rosette with a long stout taproot. Their yellow blooms or fluffy white flowers are also distinctive.
Their taproots can reach 10 inches into the soil and can take root just about anywhere. Plus, they’re perennials, which means they come back on their own every year.
If you already have dandelions sprouting in your lawns, read this article to see what you can do to get rid of them.
Most of us might not realise this: but daisies are, in fact, weeds. Even so, they are one of the most recognisable lawn weeds in the UK.
Daisies can grow in a wide variety of soil conditions and locations. They can also out-compete the growth of other weeds, causing them to weaken and die.
If you are not yet familiar with daisies, they are small white-flowered weeds with a yellow centre. They also have small rosettes at the base from which the flower sprouts.
Here’s a quick tip on how to remove daisies weeds from your lawn, courtesy of Yates.
One of the most common UK weeds, chickweed varies in size and weight. You can identify one by its small white star-shaped flowers and tiny white line of hair that grows along the stem.
The texture of common chickweed leaves also differs from smooth to slightly furry. If you spot some growing in your yard, it’s best to get rid of it immediately.
This is because they attract spider mites and greenflies. These are pests that can ruin any edible food you are growing in the garden. So watch out!
Read this prevention and maintenance guide from Ortho.
This weed’s leaves vary from slightly hairy with cotton-like hairs to smooth. Groundsel is a bushy weed species that can grow up to two feet tall.
It bears small yellow flowers and fluffy seed heads. Its leaves often have orange-brown pustules of rust fungus during summer and autumn. This can spread to cultivated plants if neglected.
Moreover, they contain evenly-placed leaves which have toothed edges. Learn how to manage groundsel weeds with this expert guide from Gardeners’ World.
Here are the common types of UK weeds that can destroy not only your garden but also your property’s curbside appeal:
- Broad-leaved dock
- Couch grass
- Hedge bindweed
Some of them are stingers, such as the nettles. So make sure you always have hoe garden tools on hand, especially when dealing with one.
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Weeds can be classified according to their gross morphology, their habitat and their life cycle.
- Annual weeds complete their life cycle in one year or less.
- Biennial weeds (e.g. lawn weeds) live more than one year but not more than two years.
- Perennial weeds live more than two years.
Bindweed is one of the worst culprits; it twirls itself around prize plants. And you'll be in trouble if you try to pull it out from the top.
You need to follow its path down to the soil and pull it up from the base, with every last piece of the root as you come across it.
- Broad-leaved dock
- Couch grass
- Hedge bindweed