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Weed Identification: A Guide to Identifying and Managing Weeds

Updated: Jun 25, 2023


Dandelion flower weed

Weeds are a common problem for gardeners, landscapers, and farmers alike. They can quickly spread and take over an area, competing with other plants for nutrients and water. Identifying weeds is the first step in managing them effectively. In this ultimate guide to weed identification, I will cover everything you need to know to spot and manage common weeds.


Table of Contents


6. FAQs



Introduction to weed identification

Weeds are any plant that grows where it is not wanted. They can be annuals, perennials, or biennials, and they may have broad or narrow leaves, thorns, or flowers. Some common weeds include dandelions, crabgrass, and chickweed.

Identifying weeds is important because it allows you to take the appropriate steps to manage them. Weeds can reduce crop yields, decrease the aesthetic value of a landscape, and even pose a health risk to humans and animals. By learning to identify weeds, you can take proactive measures to prevent their spread and control them when necessary.


The importance of identifying weeds


Identifying weeds is crucial for effective weed management. Once you can identify a weed, you can determine if it is a threat to your crops or garden. You can then decide if it needs to be removed and what steps you need to take to do so.

In addition, identifying weeds allows you to prevent their spread. Some weeds produce seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate. By removing weeds before they have a chance to produce seeds, you can prevent their spread and reduce the number of weeds that will need to be managed in the future.

Finally, identifying weeds can help you choose the most effective control methods. Different types of weeds require different management strategies, and knowing the type of weed you are dealing with can help you choose the right approach.


Weed identification

Crowsfoot (Eleusine indica):

  • This weed is a summer annual grass with a light green color and flat, broad leaves.

  • It grows in clumps and can reach up to 3 feet tall.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling, mowing, or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or a post emergent.


crowsfoot weed

Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula):


Capeweed

  • This weed is a winter annual with a rosette of hairy, lobed leaves and yellow daisy-like flowers.

  • It can grow up to 1 foot tall and spreads quickly.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling, mowing, or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or a post emergent.


Cudweed (Gnaphalium spp.):


  • This weed is a low-growing winter annual with small, gray-green leaves and white, fuzzy flowers.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early March or a post emergent.


cudweed

Pearlwort (Sagina procumbens):


  • This weed is a low-growing winter annual with bright green leaves and small, white flowers.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early March or a post emergent.


Pearlwort weed

Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.):


  • This weed is a summer annual with a light green color and flat, broad leaves.

  • It grows in a circular pattern and can reach up to 2 feet tall.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling, mowing, or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or a post emergent.


crabgrass weed in lawn

Ryegrass (Lolium spp.):


  • This weed is a winter annual or perennial grass with flat, shiny leaves and a bright green color.

  • It can grow up to 3 feet tall and spreads quickly.

  • Management strategies include mowing or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early March or a post emergent.


ryegrass weed in lawn

Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus):


  • This weed is a perennial with triangular stems and light green leaves.

  • It grows from underground tubers and can reach up to 3 feet tall.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using post-emergent herbicides in late summer or early autumn.


nutgrass weed in lawn

Paspalum (Paspalum spp.):


  • This weed is a warm-season perennial with flat, broad leaves and a light green color.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include mowing or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or early autumn or a post emergent.


paspalum weed in lawn

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):


dandelion flower seeds flying in air

  • This weed is a winter annual or perennial with deep taproots and toothed leaves.

  • It can grow up to 1 foot tall and produces yellow flowers that turn into fluffy white seed heads.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or early autumn or a post emergent.


Spurge (Euphorbia spp.):


  • This weed is a summer annual or perennial with small, oval leaves and a milky sap.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using post-emergent herbicides.


spurge weed in garden

Winter Grass (Poa annua):


  • This weed is a winter annual with light green leaves and small, white seed heads.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using a pre-emergent herbicides in early autumn or a post emergent.


winter grass weed in lawn

White Clover (Trifolium repens):


  • This weed is a perennial with three-leafed leaves and small, white flowers.

  • It can form dense mats and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using post-emergent herbicides.


white clover weed in lawn

Cats Ear (Hypochaeris radicata):


  • This weed is a perennial with a basal rosette of leaves and yellow, dandelion-like flowers.

  • It can grow up to 1 foot tall and is often found in turfgrass.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using post-emergent herbicides.


cats ear weed in lawn

Bindii (Soliva sessilis):


  • This weed is a summer annual with a basal rosette of spiny, lobed leaves and small, yellow flowers.

  • It produces sharp, prickly seed heads that can be painful to step on.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using pre-emergent herbicides in early spring.


bindii weed in lawn

Creeping Oxalis (Oxalis corniculata):

creeping oxalis weed in lawn

  • This weed is a summer annual or perennial with clover-like leaves and yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers.

  • It spreads by stolons and can form dense mats.

  • Management strategies include hand-pulling or using post-emergent herbicides.


Mallow (Malva parviflora):



  • Has a woody base and spreads mainly by its seed.

  • Mallow’s leaves are dark green and have scalloped lobes.

  • The most effective option to remove is by hand or using a hoe when the weed first appears


Post Emergent Herbicides

Herbicide options

Weeds targeted

Suitable for lawn type

bindii, clover, jo-jo, catsear, cudweed, dandelion, plantains, thistles, creeping oxalis, capeweed, creeping buttercup, fleabane

kikuyu, couch, Queensland blue, couch, bent, fescue, paspalum and ryegrass lawns

Kills clover, oxalis, bindii, creeping oxalis, sowthistle, dandelion, flatweeds,cudweeds, fleabane, dock, chickweed, lambs tounge

Suitable for all lawn types EXCEPT Buffallo

White Clover, Plantain, Capeweed, Cat’s ear, Bindii, Cudweed, Creeping oxalis

Suitable for all lawn types EXCEPT Bent grass

Winter grass

couch bent buffalo ryegrass brown top bluegrass EXCEPT Kikuyu

Nutgrass and Mullumbimby couch

bent grass, buffalo, couch, kikuyu, perennial ryegrass, QLD Blue couch and Tall fescue.


Pre Emergent Herbicides

Herbicide options

Weeds gtargeted

Suitable for lawn type

annual grasses, susceptible sedge species and many small-seeded broadleaf weed

warm season turf: hybrid couch, Qld blue couch, carpet grass, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia

Chickweed, Crab Grass, Crowsfoot Grass, Creeping Oxalis, Cudweed, Paspalum, Ryegrass, Thistle, Summer Grass, Winter Grass

warm season turf: hybrid couch, Qld blue couch, carpet grass, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia

Chickweed, Crab Grass, Crowsfoot Grass, Creeping Oxalis, Cudweed, Paspalum, Ryegrass, Thistle, Summer Grass, Winter Grass

warm season turf: hybrid couch, Qld blue couch, carpet grass, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia




Frequently asked questions


Q: Is there an app to identify weed?

A: Yes, there are several apps available that can help identify weeds. Some popular apps include PictureThis, PlantSnap, and iNaturalist.


Q: What are the most common weeds in Australia?

A: Some of the most common weeds in Australia include bindweed, blackberry, capeweed, clover, dock, lantana, thistle, and wandering jew.

Q: What are the best ways to get rid of weeds?

A: The best ways to get rid of weeds depend on the type of weed and the extent of the infestation. Some common methods include hand-pulling, mowing, using herbicides, applying mulch, and practicing good cultural practices such as proper irrigation and fertilisation.


Q: How do you identify different types of weeds?

A: You can identify different types of weeds by examining the plant's leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds. You can also consult with your local nursery.


Q: What are some natural ways to kill weeds?


A: Some natural ways to kill weeds include using boiling water, vinegar, salt, or a mixture of vinegar and dish soap.


Q: How can you tell if a plant is a weed?

A: You can tell if a plant is a weed by examining its growth habit, leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds. If it is growing in an area where it is not wanted or it is outcompeting other plants, it is likely a weed.

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