Archive | Weeds

Any plant in the wrong place can be a weed but some plants are weeds where ever they grow. Invasive plants and green gardening problems

Common Lawn Weeds Ruin Stripes

Dandelion clock

Many common weeds found in lawns and grass are appealing wild flowers. They look best in a meadow setting and not in a manicured lawn.

Grass lines
Lawn with stripes nor weeds

Problems with Lawn Weeds

  • Low growing lawn weeds escape the cut of the lawnmower and can eventually create a mass of leaves that throttles the fine grasses.
  • Lawn weeds can host pests and disease and create unsightly flat patches by smothering the grass.
  • Lawn weeds are ugly or make a tidy lawn look unkempt.


Dandelions produce prodigious amounts of fertile seed that seems to germinate well amongst grass in the lawn.
Their deep tap roots need to be fully removed or killed to prevent a reinfestation of Dandelions. They can be spot weeded by hand or by using a spot-touch weed killer.

The common Daisy is a low growing weed that hugs the ground too smother the grass. They can develop large colonies and are often left untreated as they ‘look pretty’ and can make daisy chains.
Four-leaf Clover

Clover has tight heads of pink, yellow or white flowers with shamrock shaped leaves (Why sham rocks and not real ones?). It thrives in poor soil and runners can be intrusive. Feed the lawn and mow regularly and treat with selective weed killer if these treatments do not work. (pick the four leaved clover for luck!)

Plantains (bottom left)have large leaves that compete for soil nutrients depriving the grass.

Buttercups stunt neighbouring plants and creeps quickly over a lawn. There was not much stunting going on in this picture.

Use Good Culture to Control Weeds

  • Mow the lawn regularly with sharp blades. Set blades so the grass grows about 1″ long.
  • Feed your grass and encourage it to branch freely to thicken and discourage annual weeds and grasses.
  • Keep blades higher at the start of the season and in drought to conserve moisture.
  • Do not let weeds set seed. Remove flowerheads and seedheads and do not put seeds in your compost.
  • Treat weeds early before they have chance to get settled and grow.
  • Use chemicals only with care and when absolutely necessary.

Other Resources

Most Common Weeds
Uncommon Weeds
Weed control of Avens
Horsetail and Mares-tail
Why war with weeds
Four-leaf Clover by dalcrose CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Buttercups by R~P~M CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Dealing With Dandelions

Oxford Castle
A sea of Dandelions

It is the time of the year where dandelions are popping up everywhere. This shot of Dandelion flowers is quite attractive (taken by Oxford Castle Mound). But, in the border and lawn dandelion is classed as a weed. In particular dandelion leaves will smoother the grass and make it weaker in the long term.

It is a tough weed, but definitely beatable.

For a small number of dandelions, I do recommend digging out the tap root with a trowel or custom weed trowel. The secret is to try and get as much of the root as possible. In practise, it is hard to get everything. But, it means that when it regenerates from a small bit of root, it will much easier to finish off with weed killer.

It is best to dig dandelions when the soil is dry as this makes it easier to shake off the soil surrounding the dandelion root.

If you don’t have time or energy to dig up dandelions, you can resort to a weedkiller which is designed for broad leaf weeds. You can either spray or paint it directly on to the leaves. It may need 2 to 3 treatments to finally kill them off.

Prevent Seeding.

Now is a good time to act, as if you let them go to seed, it will be just storing up more work for the future.
Oxford Castle

Dandelions aren’t the end of the world. This makes quite an attractive picture.

Eat Dandelions.

Another option is just enjoy the flowers and pick the leaves and flowers for salads. If you are really keen, you could roast the dandelion root to make a healthy organic dandelion coffee.

Weedkiller for Dandelion

Book Cover

Roundup Weedkiller concentrate. Good for large areas which need treating at Amazon.

Related Posts


Controlling Moss in Lawn

Unfortunately, my lawn has a lot of moss (if you look closely) this is because I’ve gone for the ‘wildlife effect’ i.e. too lazy to mow the lawn.

Moss is a signal of a lawn with problems. To control the moss, it is important to tackle the underlying causes of moss.

Causes of Moss

  • Damp, poorly drained soil.
  • Dry sandy soils which are infertile.
  • Acid soil
  • Too Much Shade. Moss is almost inevitable in heavily shaded areas. You could cut back the trees, but, it can be a shame to remove a shady spot on the lawn. Don’t forget moss is not the end of the world.
  • Infrequent Mowing
  • Cutting too low

Basically, moss thrives where grass struggles to grow. The best way to prevent excess moss growth is to provide conditions for strong grass growth. This involves.

  • Well drained soil
  • Watering in dry spells
  • Regular grass feed and use of weedkiller.

Continue Reading →


Marijuana Growers are Potty

Book Cover

One weed that some gardeners wish they were able to grow – well then can but not always legally.

A form of grass that if you water it with neat whiskey it comes up half cut!

Cannabis the easier name to spell than Marijuana is typically considered to be one of two species Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa.

Skunk and not Skunk cabbage but with an aroma to be sniffed at.

Humidity, temperature and ventilation  are all vital to getting your grow right.

Hash is concentrated resin produced from the flowers of the female cannabis plant or hash is the mess I make of sowing very small seeds.

Marijuana Grower’s Handbook is a perennial favourite on marijuana cultivation. Ed Rosenthal’s popular marijuana advice column and helpful web links are included as Rosenthal delivers all the basics needed for a novice plus advanced research useful to the more experienced grower. Buy from Amazon

Get a Joint to easy your joints or call it a spliff, bone, nail or, when smoked down to the end, a roach.


More Horsetail or Mare’s Tail Weeds to Eliminate

Mares tail

Mare’stail or Horsetail is a common garden weed that flourishes on damp soil. Even the RHS is prone to Horsetail as the picture taken at Harlow Carr Gardens demonstrates. I look forward to seeing how they cope!

Why it is a Problem

  • The plant reproduces by spores that are readily wind dispersed but most problems come from the rhizomes.
  • Rhizomes are extensive both horizontally and vertically and may reach over 5 feet deep depending on substrate.
  • Rhizomes break into small parts and reproduce quickly.
  • Tubers are then produced at the nodes of the rhizomes.
  • You can’t dig it out, although you may weaken the plants if you remove as much root as you can then hoe when you get above 1″ shoots.

Control and Eradication

  • Glyphosate weed killer will have an effect and eventually kill the plant. Apply at least 3-4 times. Crush the leaves to create an entry point. Continue Reading →

In Praise of Clover in your Garden

The wet weather in May and June has brought out a good crop of clover and meadow flowers for our local farmers. Praise be the hay making will produce some juicy animal feed and the fields have looked particularly good.


Good Clover for Gardeners

  • Clover can be used as a green manure if you have a large patch in your garden. Grow it then dig it or rotovate it back into your soil.
  • Green manure acts as a good soil conditioner increasing the humus content.
  • Clover adds or fixes nitrogen into the soil via its roots.
  • Clover is a beneficial weed because it attracts good insects particularly species of wasp, which do not sting but do eat aphids. Bumble bees will also be attracted in to your garden.
  • Red or white clover can create a green, low-maintenance lawn or groundcover as it did before herbicides were used in great quantities to manicure lawns.

Wild Flowers

There are circa 250 species in the genus Trifolium or Clover aka Trefoil of which Trifolium repens is the common white variety.
Trifolium rubens is a hardy perennial clover sold as seed by Thompson & Morgan who say it is a ‘soft to the touch flower spikes of dusky pink which bees love and can been used as cut flowers. The mid green leaves are unusual and almost resemble peanut foliage.’ seeds at Thompson & Morgan


Some Common Garden Weeds


Bindweed – Deceptively Attractive

Continuing on our theme of garden weeds – these are some of the most common garden weed types, which you will invariably have faced at some time.

Couch Grass.

A very common weed which spreads through a system of fine underground stems. On a dry day try digging with a fork and on regrowth try spraying with Glyphosate. Covering with a mulch or solid layer is a good way of weakening or killing the plant.


See Dealing with horsetail. Has been around for 60 million years, if you have some in your garden you will see why. One of the most difficult weeds to eradicate.


Quite easy to deal with. If you are not in a rush, make repeated cuts at the base of the plant and put stems on compost. Nettles make excellent compost and are an excellent mix of stems and leaves. Young leaves can even be eaten and are quite nutritious. Nettles are also good for wildlife.

To kill off the plant use fork or spade to lift up the clumb of yellowish roots. These are not too deep. Also responds well to weedkiller.


In spring these will suddenly grow very vigorously. Before you know it they will have set seed and will be a problem for years to come. Therefore, the best time to act is before they set seed in late April.

They have a simple long tap root. It is hard to lift up the whole tap root without breaking off the lower part which will send up new shoots. However, it can be satisfying to try and dig up the long single tap root. Will respond to repeated weed killer sprays.

Dock Leaves.

As the saying goes where there are nettles, there will also be docks. Similar to dandelions. long tap root and can easily regrow from the smallest part.


Grows through deep connection of underground white roots. Also flowers (actually very attractive) and sets seed. The roots can be a pain to dig up. But, for deep infestations, it is best to try and dig up most of the roots.
One helpful tip is to put a cane in the ground. The bindweed will grow up the cane, making it easier to apply weedkiller and avoid surrounding plants. See Bindweed Control

Ground Elder.

– Another tough nut you don’t want to see in your garden. Can spread rapidly if left unchecked. Requires hard work to get rid of it.
Japanese Knotweed.

Could well lay claim to being the worst ever weed. If you have it in your garden Good luck – either that or consider moving. More on Knotweed

Willow Herb

More Common Garden Weeds

  • Broad Leaved Willowherb. Can set thousands of seeds. Not too difficult to deal with in small quantities.
  • Budleia – In one sense makes an attractive plant – loved by butterflies, but, has immense powers of reproduction, growing in most unlikely of situations.
  • Thistle. A good hoeing should be enough.
  • Cleavers. – Stick to your clothing. hoeing should be fine to get ride off.
  • Ramsons (Wild Garlic) tough weeds
  • Bittercress
  • Shepherd’s Purse
  • Broad Leaved Plaintain. – Not too bad.
  • Creeping Buttercup – a vigorous spreader. Can grow in middle of crass and through the border. Needs its roots tackling.
  • White clover – a common grass weed.
  • Ivy Leaved Toadflax
  • Ivy Leaved Speedwell

See also list of Uncommon Weeds

Weedkillers for Weeds

Book Cover

Other Resources

Common Lawn Weeds
Uncommon Weeds
Weed control of Avens
Horsetail and Mares-tail
Why war with weeds
Alligator weed

Alligator weed by Brisbane City Council CC BY 2.0 a snap of a weed I have never come across and have no wish so to do!


Warning – Problems of Japanese Knotweed

Knotweed problems have not gone away but panic isn’t the solution.
Not Knotweed

Warning About Knotweed

  • It is an offence to plant or otherwise cause the Japanese Knotweed to grow in the wild.
  • Japanese Knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ and as such must be disposed of safely at a licensed landfill site and buried to a depth of at least 5 m.
  • This law also applies to the surrounding soil.
  • Infringement can result in an unlimited fine and you can also be held liable for costs incurred from the spread of Knotweed into adjacent properties.

Continue Reading →


Go to War on Weeds

‘A weed is any plant growing in the wrong place’ – but some weeds are more wrong than others.
Unfortunately weeds are not weedy but more thuggee.

Book Cover
Weeds: The Story of Outlaw Plants: A Cultural History

Problems Caused by Weeds
At their worst weeds can take over and suppress all other growth.
Weeds take water and nutrition from the soil and rob your plants.
Other cultivated plants can’t fight weeds and give of their best at the same time.
Weeds can throttle and kill weaker species and cast a shadow over others.
Book Cover
Pest & Weed Expert:

Declare War
Before we get onto chemical warfare you can fight weeds at there own game.
Cover the weeds with a membrane to exclude light. Cardboard or layered newspaper may work and you can plant through this covering. Add at least 2″ of mulch and soil on top.
Hand weeding is the Rolls Royce method. You have to keep up to this job on a regular basis.
When digging over a patch take care to remove all perennial weeds and bits of their roots. (Don’t compost the roots).
Annual weeds can be hoed so the roots can’t access water and thus die.

Book Cover
The Book of Weeds

Chemical Warfare
Weed killers are available from most garden centres.
Glyphosphate is a systemic chemical that enters through leaves to kill roots. It is ineffective and dissipated as soon as it hits the soil. Spray in autumn and spring on growing weeds but avoid your cultivated plants.
Selective chemicals are available for lawns.

Book Cover
Weeds and What They Tell Us

Gardeners Special Tips
Do not let weeds seed. Cut off weed flowers even if you can’t remove them.
Do not compost seeding weeds as they may not be killed by the heat of the compost.
Kill weeds when they are young.
Early recognition and control of weeds leads to savings in the cost of herbicides and aggravation

Book Cover
Weed Seedlings Colour Atlas

Other Resources

Most Common Weeds
Common Lawn Weeds
Uncommon Weeds
Weed control of Avens
Horsetail and Mares-tail

Book Cover
The Weeders Digest (of edible weeds?)


Black Grass Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigresens

Grass is designed to be green but gardeners being what they are they often want to get Black Grass.

Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigresens is often called Black Mondo. It is a rhizomus grass with delicate flowers.

The snowdrop sets off the grass which is easy to grow but occasionally slow to spread.
It makes a gothic garden feature or fits in well with a ‘black foliage and flower garden’.
The straplike, shiny black foliage grows in little tufts and combines well with many other plants.
Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigresens is not to be confused with Black-grass Alopecurus myosuroides or Black twitch. This is an annual weed native throughout the UK.

Plants and framed photographs are available from Amazon.


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