"Know your enemy" – Sun Tzu.
There are a lot of resources for methods to get rid of weeds but for the best results you must first know which weeds you are trying to control.
Unless you are a student of botany, typical weed identification guides are fairly botanical and it may be difficult to follow the description in order to identify weeds. You also don't have to visit a herbarium as we have a better solution for you.
In this comprehensive guide brought to you by Weedicide, we'll help you identify common garden weeds in the United Kingdom with ease.
Different weeds commonly found in the United Kingdom are differentiated based on their structure and then identified using the type, size, availability, and appearance. A few quick tips on how to cope with different types of weeds are also provided.
First, we categorize weeds according to their leaf shape and size, so it is easier to identify:
Appearance: Blooms early before the actual plant starts to grow. Aquilegia is a colorful flower with quite strong roots that makes it difficult to pull out.
Size: Up to 1 meter
Found in: Commonest types of grass available in UK
Appearance: Similar to fern like structure. Can survive in the doughtiest conditions.
Type: Annual plant
Size: Up to 30 cm in height
Found in: Commonest in lawns in UK
Appearance: Pretty pink flowers – seen in late springs and summers. It grows on dry soil and prefer dry environment.
Type: Deciduous shrub
Size: Up to 4.5 metres
Found across southern Europe
Appearance: Red/purple coloured flowers.
Type: Perennial weed
Size: 12 cm on average
Found in: Can survive in all kinds of weather conditions – most common in damper conditions.
Appearance: Kidney-shaped flowers with prominent veins. Mostly seen between mid to late June.
Type: Perennial weed
Found in: All UK gardens
Appearance: Small flowers with hairy dark green leaves. Visible white flowers bloom from late spring to autumn.
Tips: Since these Mouse-ear chickweeds can easily skip a mowing session, you can look for controlled and selective herbicides to get rid of these weeds.
Type: Perennial weed – generally grown by creeping runners aka rhizomes.
Found in: Most lawns throughout the UK
Appearance: Evident purple ting– easy to find in closely mown areas. Blooms during June to October.
Type: Cool-season annual plant, widespread, hardy annual
Found in: Native to Europe, found in moist, fertile garden soil
Appearance: Fine hairs on only one side of the stem in a single band.
Tips: Control chickweed by pulling with the help of an old table fork. Mulching over vacant garden space in winter will reduce chickweed problems.
Type: Annual growth pattern, season starts around June, extends until September
Size: small, branches easily and quickly
Found in: Lawns
Appearance: This annual weed does not last for more than one year. Not common in properly maintained gardens. Sometimes misinterpreted as the Common Chickweed weed but the Pimpernel has bigger, more square-shaped stems. The name comes from big, intensely orange or red-colored flowers.
Tips: Ensure your garden is clean. The Scarlet weed finds it very difficult to thrive in well-maintained, periodically groomed lawns.
Also known as Narrow Leaf Plantain
Type: One of UK’s commonest weeds. It can grow throughout the year. Noticeable because of its longer and thinner leaves.
Size: Medium with slightly longer leaves
Found in: Wet and dry areas, can resurface easily after removal, grows in most seasons
Tips: This is one of the most tolerant weeds. Though easy to remove, comprehensive eradication is often difficult. Repeated hand weeding might work in some cases. Known to cause big patches that can easily destroy your garden’s beauty. Not easily eradicated by generalized herbicides. Better handled with selected herbicides that are known to kill the Ribwort.
Type: It is one of the commonest perennial weeds found in the UK lawns and turfs. It is specifically found in ill-maintained lawns or gardens with neglected services.
Size: 2 cm in diameter
Found in: UK lawns and turfs. Visible from June to October.
Appearance: The leaves of this kind of weeds are easy to identify with five different segments and toothed edges. The yellow flowers and fleshy petals also contribute in easy recognition.
Type: Perennial weed with a strong taproot, one of the most persistent types
Size: 50 cm or more (average)
Found in: Native to temperate areas of the globe
Appearance: The leaves are simple and basal, forming a rosette above the central taproot. The flower heads are yellow to orange colored, and are open in the daytime but closed at night.
Tips: Brush scattered plants with a clove oil-based organic herbicide. Reduce reseeding by popping off the flowers before they develop seeds.
Type: Perennial weed. One of the strongest and persistent taproot types.
Size: Up to 8 inch leaves
Found in: Commonest weed types in lawns of UK.
Appearance: Cats Ear looks like a stunted Dandelion. It is often found on drier soils.
Tips: Cats Ear is often ignored in rigorous mowing in a lawn. This is why, specific herbicides are sprinkled to reduce the growth of Cats Ear.
Type: Creeping Buttercup is most common perennial weed.
Size: Up to 50cm
Found in: Creeping Buttercup is one of the commonest yet low growing weed types in the lawns of UK. It blooms from mid spring to late summers.
Appearance: Creeping Buttercup is best seen on wet heavy soils. This Creeping Buttercup particularly grows with its creeping stem and extends upwards on a regular basis. With fibrous roots, Creeping Buttercup is very difficult to remove permanently. It blooms yellow flowers with 6-9 petals each.
Tips: A continuous practice of years can be sufficient to weaken its root.
Type: Perennial weed. Birds-foot trefoil is one of the members of the Clover family.
Found in: Birds-foot trefoil is widely found in lawns and gardens of UK. The Birds-foot trefoil can be found on any kind of soil; however the highest fertility is in acidic and drier soils.
Appearance: Forms large patches and regulates through a deep root system. Birds-foot trefoil doesn’t need any particular pattern for growth – as can be grown by under-runners like stolons and rhizomes. It blooms bright yellow flowers – which easily resemble with Honeysuckle.
Type: Daisy is one of the most commonly found perennial lawn and turf weeds in UK.
Found in: The Daisy can be seen in any soil condition – spread by short runners called Stolons.
Appearance: The Daisy is quite easy to recognize for its fleshy round leaves. The Daisy can easily grow very close to the ground – even in close mown lawns too. The flowers bloom from spring to early autumn – featuring a yellowish center for easy distinction.
Woody and Vining Weeds
Type: Perennial vine
Size: Large vines, roots spread up to 30 feet
Found in: Found throughout Europe, North America
Appearance: Green, arrow-shaped leaves and 1-inch-wide morning glory-type flowers that may be pale pink or white
Tips: Digging, cutting it back to reduce reseeding, or brushing it with a glyphosate herbicide
Type: Popular, annual, flowering vine
Size: Small to mid-sized
Found in: Throughout the world
Appearance: Most morning glory flowers unravel into full bloom in the early morning. The flowers usually start to fade a few hours before the “petals” start showing visible curling
Tips: Easy to pull or cultivate with a sharp hoe when young or you can spray them with an organic herbicide containing clove oil.
Size: Up to 2 meters
Found in: Commonly found in UK lawns and gardens.
Appearance: Campanula has really attractive flowers –blue in color.
Annual weeds vs. perennial weeds
Based on their nature, weeds are divided into annual weeds and perennial weeds.
Broadleaf winter annual weeds:
- Seeds germinate from late summer through fall
- Weeds over winter and continue to grow in early spring
Broadleaf summer annual weeds:
- Seeds begin to germinate as soils begin to warm up
Grassy winter annual weeds:
- Seeds germinate in late summer to early September
Grassy summer annual weeds:
- Seed germination begins in early to mid-spring
- Seeds continue to germinate in the summer
Broadleaf Perennial Weeds:
- Perennials are persistent from year to year
- Range from weeds that are easy to eliminate, to some of the most difficult to control
Grassy perennial weeds/Sedges:
- Some of the most difficult weeds to control in a lawn
- Total lawn renovation is usually necessary
Other classifications include common weed, easy to control weeds, difficult weeds, and Trees and Stumps.
Small standing trees and roots are also unwanted and categorized as weeds. The way to cope with them is to use an axe to cut then down (from November to March).
Various control measures to get rid of weeds include pulling weeds, digging weeds, mulching, cultivating, reducing, reseeding, crowding plants, glyphosate herbicide, organic herbicides, corn gluten herbicides, and flamers etc. Choose one that suits the plant and your budget, and keep your garden free from weeds.
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