Maintaining a lush, green lawn in Virginia comes with a unique set of challenges. One issue that every homeowner must contend with is the array of lawn weeds that thrive in this region. From the robust invasiveness of Virginia buttonweed to the persistent spread of crabgrass, the struggle against unwanted plants in your yard can often feel like a never-ending battle… but don’t lose hope! The Blue Sky team is here to equip homeowners with knowledge about how to identify these harmful weeds.
With the proper information and a keen eye, you can spot these lawn weeds as early as possible and take steps to prevent their spread. For more information on how to prevent and remove weeds from your Virginia lawn, be sure to check out our weed control services to keep your turf protected!
1) Virginia Buttonweed
Virginia buttonweed (Diodia virginiana) is a persistent and problematic broadleaf weed that commonly infests lawns and other turfgrass areas in the southeastern United States. This warm-season perennial plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family and is characterized by its low-growing and prostrate habit. Virginia buttonweed thrives in moist to wet areas, making it particularly troublesome in poorly drained soils and along water edges. Its aggressive nature makes it a challenging adversary for lawn care enthusiasts and landscape professionals.
Leaves: The opposite leaves are lance-shaped, approximately 1 to 2 inches long, with a distinct dark green color.
Stems: The prostrate stems of Virginia buttonweed can root at the nodes, allowing it to spread rapidly and form dense mats in turfgrass.
Flowers: The small white flowers are inconspicuous, but they form in clusters at the leaf axils.
Roots: The plant has a fibrous root system, and it can produce roots at the nodes along the stems, aiding its ability to establish and proliferate.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a common and widely recognized broadleaf perennial weed that invades lawns, gardens, and various open spaces across North America. Dandelions are prolific seed producers, with each seed attached to a parachute-like structure, enabling wind dispersal over considerable distances. These familiar weeds thrive in various soil types and are known for their resilience, growing in both manicured lawns and neglected areas.
Growth: Dandelions typically form a low-growing rosette of deeply lobed leaves that can span several inches in diameter.
Flowers: The iconic yellow flower head of the dandelion consists of numerous small ray flowers arranged in a composite structure. Once mature, the flower transforms into the familiar white, spherical seedhead, known as a "dandelion clock."
Stems: Dandelion stems are hollow and exude a milky sap when broken.
Roots: The taproot of a dandelion is long, fleshy, and deeply anchored in the soil, making it challenging to eradicate completely.
3) Purple Deadnettle
Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) is a winter annual weed that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). Native to Europe and Asia, this invasive plant has spread widely and is now commonly found in lawns, gardens, and disturbed areas throughout Virginia and the rest of the country. Purple deadnettle is known for its distinctive appearance and ability to thrive in a variety of soil types. Purple deadnettle prefers damp, nutrient-rich soils and is often found in disturbed areas, gardens, and along roadsides.
Leaves: The leaves are heart-shaped with serrated edges and have a purplish tint, especially on the upper side.
Stems: The square-shaped stems of purple deadnettle are covered with fine hairs and can reach heights of up to 2 feet.
Flowers: Clusters of tubular, pink to purple flowers bloom at the top of the stems, creating a conspicuous display in early spring.
Germination: Seeds germinate in the fall, and the plant establishes itself throughout the winter, flowering in early spring.
4) White Clover
White clover (Trifolium repens) is a perennial legume that is commonly found in lawns, pastures, and other open areas throughout the world. While some consider it a weed, others appreciate its nitrogen-fixing abilities and use it as a cover crop or as part of a low-maintenance lawn mix. White clover is well-adapted to a variety of soil types and can thrive in both sunny and partially shaded areas.
Leaves: White clover is easily recognized by its trifoliate leaves, typically with three oval leaflets that often have a distinctive white V-shaped mark.
Stems: The stems of white clover can be creeping or erect, and the plant tends to form dense, low-growing patches.
Flowers: The white to cream-colored flowers of white clover are arranged in globe-like clusters at the end of long stalks, attracting pollinators like bees.
Roots: White clover has a fibrous root system, with some varieties developing stolons that enable it to spread horizontally.
5) Hairy Bittercress
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is a winter or early spring annual weed that is commonly found in gardens, lawns, and disturbed areas. Germinating in the fall or early spring, hairy bittercress often becomes noticeable in late winter, producing flowers and seeds rapidly. Despite its smaller size, hairy bittercress can be a nuisance due to its prolific seed production and ability to quickly spread.
Growth: Hairy bittercress typically grows in a rosette form, with basal leaves arranged close to the ground.
Leaves: The leaves are pinnately compound, with small, rounded leaflets. The entire plant has a fine texture due to the presence of fine hairs on stems and leaves.
Flowers: Hairy bittercress produces small white flowers with four petals in a loose cluster at the top of a slender stalk.
Seedpods: One of the most distinctive features is the elongated seedpod, which explosively disperses seeds when mature, contributing to the weed's prolific spread.
6) Black Medic
Black medic (Medicago lupulina) is a common annual or biennial broadleaf weed that often invades lawns, gardens, and disturbed areas. Recognized for its trifoliate leaves and small yellow flowers, black medic can be challenging to control due to its prolific seed production and adaptability to various soil conditions. Black medic grows low to the ground, forming a prostrate mat. The stems may root at the nodes, facilitating its invasive spread even further.
Leaves: The compound leaves consist of three leaflets, each with toothed margins. The leaflets are often marked with a characteristic white crescent or chevron.
Flowers: Small yellow flowers are arranged in tight clusters, creating a distinctive appearance. The flowers give way to small, coiled seedpods.
Seedpods: The seedpods are coiled and typically contain one to two seeds, which are expelled upon maturation, aiding in the weed's ability to colonize new areas.
Roots: Black medic has a taproot system, enabling it to access nutrients from deeper soil layers.
Crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) is a warm-season annual grass weed that commonly plagues lawns, gardens, and disturbed areas across the United States. This weed thrives in areas with poor soil fertility and can quickly colonize disturbed or bare patches in lawns. Known for its rapid growth and prolific seed production, crabgrass can quickly invade and overtake desirable turfgrasses if left uncontrolled.
Growth: Crabgrass exhibits a distinctive prostrate growth habit, with stems that radiate outward from a central point, resembling the spokes of a wheel.
Leaves: The leaves are usually light green and have a unique folded or rolled vernation, giving them a characteristic appearance.
Seedheads: Mature crabgrass plants produce distinctive seedheads, with multiple finger-like spikes resembling a crab's legs, hence the name.
Germination: Crabgrass typically germinates in late spring to early summer when soil temperatures rise, making it a prevalent nuisance during the warmer months.
Goosegrass (Eleusine indica) is a warm-season annual grass weed that commonly infests lawns, golf courses, and other turfgrass areas in tropical and subtropical regions. Recognized for its low-growing and mat-forming habit, goosegrass can quickly establish itself in turf and disrupt the uniformity of a lawn. This weed is well-adapted to compacted and disturbed soils, thriving in areas with poor drainage and limited competition from desirable turfgrasses.
Growth: Goosegrass typically forms low, spreading mats, often hugging the ground and creating a dense, prostrate appearance.
Leaves: The leaves of goosegrass are flat, with a distinct pale green color and a prominent midrib.
Seedheads: Mature goosegrass plants produce distinctive seedheads that consist of several branches radiating from a central point, resembling a star-shaped structure.
Roots: Goosegrass has a fibrous root system that aids in its ability to establish quickly and compete with surrounding vegetation.
9) Annual Bluegrass
Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a cool-season annual grass weed that frequently invades lawns, golf courses, and athletic fields. Annual bluegrass competes aggressively with desirable turfgrasses, often outcompeting them for resources. This weed is adaptable to a range of environmental conditions and can thrive in both sun and shade, making it particularly challenging to control. Despite its name, annual bluegrass can exhibit both annual and perennial characteristics, making it a versatile and challenging weed to manage.
Growth: Annual bluegrass forms dense tufts or patches with fine-textured, bright green leaves, creating a distinct appearance in lawns and turf areas.
Seedheads: The seedheads are characteristic, with a delicate, open panicle that holds numerous small, greenish-white flowers. These seedheads often give the lawn a whitish or hazy appearance.
Roots: Annual bluegrass has a fibrous root system, and in its perennial form, it can produce stolons, enabling it to spread horizontally.
Germination: Seeds of annual bluegrass germinate in the fall, and the plant grows actively during cool, wet conditions, becoming a noticeable problem in the winter and early spring.
Nutsedge, specifically yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus), is a persistent and troublesome weed that infests lawns, gardens, and agricultural fields. Often referred to as "nutgrass," nutsedge is a perennial plant known for its rapid growth and resistance to many common herbicides. It thrives in moist to wet soils and is particularly problematic in poorly drained areas or overwatered lawns.
Growth: Nutsedge has a distinctive triangular stem that differentiates it from most grasses. The stems can grow erect, reaching heights of up to two feet.
Leaves: The leaves are grass-like but arranged in sets of three, with a prominent midrib on the underside. Yellow nutsedge typically has yellow-green leaves, while purple nutsedge has purplish-brown leaves.
Flowers: Nutsedge produces small, inconspicuous flower clusters at the tips of the stems, with yellow or brownish spikelets.
Roots: Nutsedge reproduces through underground tubers and rhizomes, allowing it to spread rapidly and persist in the soil.