Dandelion and thistle on a block paving driveway

Weeds are pesky pests that can take over your garden and lawn if you’re not careful. Weeds are plants that grow in places where they’re not wanted.

If left uncontrolled, weeds can quickly take over your garden or lawn, making it difficult to grow anything healthy.

They can be a problem for homeowners, gardeners, farmers and landlords because they compete with desirable plants for sunlight, water and nutrients. Weeds also make it difficult to walk through the area or tend to the area’s plants without accidentally uprooting them.

Our Concise Guide to Understanding Weeds is the perfect solution for anyone looking to get a better understanding of these pesky weeds. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about identifying and controlling weeds in your landscape.

What are weeds?

Weeds can be found in nearly every environment on Earth. They are plants growing in locations where they are unwanted. While many weeds serve as valuable food and habitat for wildlife, most homeowners want to keep them out of their yards. They can ruin landscaping, choke crops, hurt livestock, clog waterways and overtake native plants if not managed properly.

Weeds can be a nuisance and can take over an area very quickly. Many people think of weeds as simply plants that are growing in the wrong place, but there is more to it than that. Weeds are actually very resilient plants and they have some unique properties that allow them to thrive in difficult environments. In order to effectively control weeds you need to know a little more about what they are and how they grow.

Weeds have been around for a very long time, and because of this there are several different types. In general you can divide them into two categories:

  • broad leaf
  • grassy weeds

Broad leaf weeds tend to be larger plants while grassy weeds are much smaller. Many of the grassy types are actually considered to be annuals, which means they grow up from seed each spring and last only one year. Annual weeds can be very difficult to control because they have a new crop every single year. Some examples of these types of weeds include crabgrass, dandelions, amaranth, and pigweed.

Broad leaf weeds

Broad leaf weeds can be annuals or perennials. Perennial weeds live for three or more years and produce seed each year to start a new crop. Like annuals they can grow from seed as well as underground root structures. Some examples of perennial broad leaf weeds include poison ivy, thistle, ground ivy, and many others.

Grassy weeds

Grassy weeds are small plants that often have thin leaf blades. They tend to be less woody in nature than broad leaves and generally do not produce a thick root or underground structure. There are several different types of grassy weeds including annuals and perennials, but one thing they all have in common is that they are very small. Some examples of grass weeds include crabgrass, foxtails, lamb’s quarter, and Johnson grass.   

Spraying <a href=weed killer herbicide to control unwanted plants and grass on a garden – weeds” class=”wp-image-11792″/>
Spraying weed killer herbicide to control unwanted plants and grass on a garden

Different types of weeds

Perennial weeds need to be dealt with each year because even if you get rid of them one season, they will grow back in the next season unless you take precautions against new seed formation. There are two types of perennial weed:

  • those that produce flowers (annuals)
  • those that do not flower (perennials)

Annuals must be killed every year because the plant lives for just one growing season. Perennials are more difficult to deal with because they live for several seasons, and the root system is still alive even if you cut all of the vegetation off.

How to identify common types of weeds

There are several types of common weeds found in yards and other landscaped areas. The most common are broadleaf plants like dandelions, plantains, chickweed and clover. Grassy weeds include crabgrass, Bermuda grass and orchard grass. There are also several invasive species that grow in water or along shorelines including Japanese knotweed.

Weeds are plants that grow in the wrong place. They compete with crops for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Quite simply, weeds can ruin your garden, farm, small-holding or yard. Getting rid of them is important for maintaining healthy soil and a bountiful harvest.


Crabgrass is a summer annual grass that has just recently germinated and is making its first leaves. It grows in clumps and crowds out more desirable turf grasses such as fescue, bermudagrass, and zoysia. The seeds can survive even long periods of drought. To stop crabgrass from growing, make sure your lawn gets enough water.


Bindweed has white flowers that open during the day and then close up at night. Bindweed can injure or kill by wrapping tightly around bare stems of other plants. It also produces underground shoots that you often don’t notice until they are 6 to 8 inches long. The disease is difficult to control. Pulling out the plants as soon as they are noticed is the only way to kill bindweed.


Buttercups, with their yellow flowers, spread rapidly by underground stems. It’s best to pull these weeds out as soon as you see them because they grow quickly and form dense mats of vegetation that compete with long-term lawn grasses. The best time to pull buttercups is when they are young, before they send out their long creeping underground stems. They should be pulled while the soil is moist so the roots don’t break off and leave an unappealing brown stub in your lawn. If you use a glyphosate-based herbicide on the buttercups, it’s likely they will be more resistant to it in subsequent years.


Dandelions, with their iconic yellowish-white flowers, are common weeds that most often grow on lawns and fields. They usually thrive after applications of nitrogen fertilizer, which gives them more nutrients to spread through their seeds. The best time to dig out dandelions is in early spring, while they are still small. They can be pulled out by their taproots or cut off at the base of their stems. For best results, do it before the flower buds appear.


Chickweeds spread quickly by seed-like fruits called achenes. It’s difficult to get rid of because it often grows well in compacted soils, but it doesn’t stick up as tall as dandelions or buttercups. You can use a mower to cut the grass down to about half an inch and then pull out the weed by hand. If you’re not able to remove them all, glyphosate herbicides will usually kill those that remain.

Using a hand tool to remove an unwanted weeds
Using a hand tool to remove unwanted weeds

General Characteristics of weeds

Weeds are usually characterized by aggressive growth, rapid reproduction and competitive ability for resources. They produce an abundance of seeds easily spread by the wind or water. The more sunlight weeds get, the faster they grow. As long as they have adequate moisture, weeds will continue growing even when other plants go dormant due to lack of water.

Prevention and Control Preventing weeds from growing in your yard or garden is the best way to control them. Keep lawns short for maximum sunlight, which helps kill weed seeds. Remove leaves left over from autumn that can harbour dormant seeds. Make sure all flowerbeds are completely covered with mulch or solid material to prevent weed seeds from taking root. Weeds growing in garden or flower beds can be pulled by hand, dug up with a shovel or hoe, or sprayed with herbicide.

The benefits of removing weeds from your property

One of the benefits of removing weeds from your property is that it can make you more mindful.

When weeding, our attention must be on the work at hand. We have to watch closely for buried roots and other hazards below ground level. We also have to pay close attention to what’s going on around us: a child could wander into a field where they might get hurt or an animal might appear out of nowhere and cause us harm.

This kind of focused awareness has been shown in studies to activate parts of the brain associated with happiness, such as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are involved in feelings such as empathy and compassion.

And when we’re happy or even just happier than usual, we tend to take better care of ourselves. In other words, weeding can make you a healthier and happier person!

In conclusion

Weeds are a part of life. They can be pesky and frustrating, but they also have their place in the world. By understanding weeds and their role in nature, we can better manage them and keep them from taking over our gardens and landscapes.

If you’re looking for more information on how to deal with these plants, check out some of the resources we have listed on thus website, such as the Weeds A to Z.

Want to know more about weeds?

Knotweed Removal aims to provide the most up to date information, help and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain on how to proceed, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

Governmental advice can be found here and the UK law covering the removal of Japanese Knotweed as stated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can be found here.

The best means to contact us is via our email – knotweedremovaltips@gmail.com

Do not forget we have a library of blogs covering many areas relevant to Japanese Knotweed, our free downloadable How-to Guides and Product Reviews on the latest methods being employed to eradicate or remove Japanese Knotweed.

Knotweed Removal, UK

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