Weed Identification & British Garden / Lawn Weed
Welcome to our Garden Weed Identification Guide.
This lawn weed information resource will help you identify common British weeds found in lawns and sports surfaces.
Once identified, understanding what they look like and how they grow, can help you in two ways:
- For small infestations, you may be able to treat them yourself, using a weed killer
- For larger contaminated areas of lawn or turf, we may need to discuss a weed treatment programme
Whether you treat your lawn weeds yourself or enlist our professional help, we hope you find this weed ID guide useful. We’ve also included their Latin name, in case you need to refer to it!
Common Lawn, Grass & Pernicious Weeds
The most common lawn, grass and pernicious weeds found in Britain include:
Daisy - Bellis perennis
The Daisy is one of the most common and recognisable lawn and turf weeds in gardens in the UK. It can grow in almost any soil conditions and spreads by short runners called stolons. It is a perennial weed which means it lasts for several years. It has very fleshy round leaves which can grow very close to the ground meaning that it can survive in close mown lawns.
The flowers are very distinctive appearing from spring to early autumn with a bright yellow centre surrounded by white petals
White Clover - Trifolium repens
A very recognisable weed found in lawns and turf. White Clover is a perennial weed meaning that it returns year after year. This low growing weed has creeping runners that travel along the surface and can quickly colonise a lawn and choke out the grass in a short period of time.
The leaves are a characteristic shape, divided into three leaflets, occasionally found as four which deemed to be lucky!
The flowers are often found above the leaves, generally white in appearance and found throughout the summer. This plant prefers good quality soils and is found less in dry or shady conditions.
Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
The Dandelion is a common perennial weed that forms a large flat rosette. It is a perennial plant but spreads readily from seed, germinating throughout the year. It has a long stout tap root which makes it very difficult to pull out of the ground successfully. The Dandelion leaves which have many health benefits are long and fleshy with characteristic teeth and can grow to a significant size.
The single yellow flower grows from the centre of the rosette and is a vibrant yellow which can be seen from March to November. The seeds are wind borne and are readily found germinating especially along the edges of paths.
Creeping Buttercup - Ranunculus repens
The Creeping Buttercup is a low growing perennial weed which prefers wet heavy soils. It is a common weed in lawns in the UK and as the name suggests, it spreads using creeping stems that run along the surface of the ground, extending upwards into a new plant on a regular basis. The roots are very fibrous and dense, this weed is difficult to remove permanently as it takes several years to weaken the plant.
The bright yellow flowers have 6 to 9 petals each and can be seed from mid spring to late summer.
Birds-Foot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
Birds-foot trefoil is a perennial lawn weed and is also a member of the clover family. It can be a major problem on UK lawns as it forms large patches, it has a deep root system and spreads by both stolons and rhizomes (above and underground runners).
Like clover, the leaf has 3 leaflets on a short stalk with two more leaflets at the base of the stalk which can grow knee high if left alone.
The flowers are bright yellow and pretty and resemble those of the Honeysuckle. They can be seen from late April until late September. Birds-Foot Trefoil can tolerate a wide variety of soil types but prefers non acidic, dry soils.
Yarrow - Achillea millefolium
It spreads by creeping stems which root at intervals. It is generally seen later in the year and the deep root system also gives it the benefit of being able to survive dry conditions. The leaves are fern like in appearance macking it very easy to identify.
Scarlet Pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis
The leaves are very similar to Common Chickweed but can be identified by its square stems and red flower. The distinct flowers of Scarlet Pimpernel can be seen from June - September. Each flower has five petals and are an orange - red colour.
Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris
It can quite happily grow in closely mown areas of turf although if left alone, it will grow to a height of 30cm and produce an attractive plant.
This plant can thrive in most conditions, the leaves appear in pars and in closely mown areas, they may have a purple ting. Selfheal flowers from June to October, producing a bright purple flower.
Mouse-ear Chickweed - Cerastium vulgatum
Mouse-ear Chickweed is a perennial weed and is very common on lawns throughout in the UK. It can be very annoying as it can spread very rapidly, smothering grass in the process. It can easily survive close mowing but can be controlled with selective herbicides. The small dark green leaves are distinctive in that they are very hairy.
The flowers are very small and upright and white in colour appearing from late spring up to autumn.
Common Chickweed - Stellaria media
The plant has pairs of leaves which are fleshy with a consistency of lettuce. The flowers are small and white with 5 petals although it looks like 10 with the deep lobes. It flowers from February to November.
Cats Ear - Hypochaeris radicata
The leaves look very much like a stunted dandelion and are often close to the soil. The plant flowers throughout the summer with the long stems producing one or two bright yellow flowers.
This plant is found more often on drier soils.
Creeping Cinquefoil - Potentilla reptans
The leaves are distinctive with five different segments with toothed edges. The flowers are yellow, again with five large fleshy petals which are visible from June to October.
Greater Plantain - Plantago major
Slender Speedwell - Veronica filiformis
Control can be achieved with current chemicals but this needs correct timing and adjuvants.
Slender Speedwell is more of a problem in closely mown turf than Germander Speedwell.
Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys
Germander Speedwell can survive in all soil types but it is most common in damper conditions.
Lesser Celandine - Ranunculus ficaria
This is difficult to control in a permanent sense as it needs to be hit early each year to weaken it. More commonly found in darker shady areas.
The leaves are fleshy and dark green, very easily recognised.
Ribwort Plantain - Plantago lanceolata
This plant is very drought tolerant and it can cause unsightly patches, easy however to remove using the correct selective herbicides.
Doves-Foot Cranesbill - Geranium molle
The flowers are a pretty pink or red and commonly seen in late spring and summer.
Red Clover - Trifolium pratense
Being larger than white clover, it is more noticeable in lawns as it tends to grow more upright, hence it is more noticeable.
The flowers and leaves are larger than those of white clover. Red Clover flowers from May to October.
Common Ragwort - Senecio jacobaea
It is a biennial weed meaning that it produces lots of leaf in year one with the aim to produce a significant number of flowers in year two.
It is not difficult to control in lawns.
Broad-Leaved Dock - Rumex obtusifolius
The plants have very deep tap roots enabling them to survive drought and poor nutrition soil types.
Permanent control is not complicated provided that the timing of herbicide application is correct.
If you would like to discuss weed infestation in your garden, sports surface or recreational ground, please contact us to arrange an informal visit. Alternatively read our latest news, find out more about us or sign up for our email newsletter.
Author: Colin Peters