8 Common Weeds in California: Identity with Pictures

It’s rewarding and relaxing to see your favorite plants and flowers sprouting from the ground after your immense hard work in the garden. But what gets in the way of this beautiful scenario and feeling is the weeds.

For all home gardeners, weeds are mostly nuisances that require immediate action and control. Otherwise, they can alter the structure and beauty of your garden.

The fact is that you can’t have a garden free of weeds. But it’s essential to keep the weeds at bay to keep your plants healthy and maintain an immaculate garden.

However, most weed species emerge in lawns, especially if gardeners don’t use clean mower blades and other equipment.

So the key to a gardener’s success is understanding the common weeds in California, their spreading, and ways to prevent their growth.

Different Types of Garden Weeds

Weeds are of different types. According to the Weed Science Society of America, they are defined as:


It is described as plants that are responsible for ecological or economic damages. Therefore, they are undesirable wherever growing and cause health issues for humans or animals. The best example is Crabgrass.

Invasive weed

Invasive weeds are those referred to as ‘non-native invaders.’ Eventually, they don’t have natural foes or competitors to prevent their growth. As a result, these weeds can overrun indigenous plants and change ecosystems by displacing species—for example, English Ivy.

Noxious Weed

This is referred to the plants that local government, state, or federal officials have designated as detrimental to agriculture, wildlife, public health, property, or recreation. For example – Purple Loosestrife and Field Bindweed.

Note: All ‘weeds’ aren’t innately bad or invasive. Certain weeds can stabilize the soil, adding organic matter. Moreover, some of the weed species are eatable and nutritious. They even render food and habitat for wildlife.

8 Most Common Weeds You Will Find in California

Keep reading for some of the common weeds you will see in the gardens of California. Also, find out the best and safest way to eradicate them. 

Keep note that weeds are of two types – noxious and troublesome. The first one is very destructive and can harm our ecosystem. However, on the contrary, the latter may have their beneficial uses. Many weed species are, in fact, edible, and some even allure pollinators. 

Understanding the weed type growing in your garden and their consequences is essential. This article endeavors to help you understand the entire thing. 

Although having an entirely weed-free lawn isn’t possible, you should try to keep it weed-free. Otherwise, the harvest will be poor. Whether troublesome or harmful, weeds will impact the quality of your intended harvest.

1. Crabgrass

TypeAnnual grass
Common Names Finger-grass, Fonio, Hairy Crabgrass

This low-growing, annual summer weed spreads from the roots of nodes lying on the soil and by seed. If undisturbed, Crabgrass can reach up to 2 feet in height. It thrives in hot and dry conditions.

Crabgrass is among the top lawn complaint list of gardeners. If you see this weed species appearing, just run and dig it out using a spading fork. However, you can even cover their roots with black plastic.

How To Control It?

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get rid off Crabgrass. First, try to control this weed before it gives off the seed. This is because the seeds typically stay active for nearly three years in the soil.

Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the early spring to stop the crabgrass seed from sprouting. It won’t grow if the seed doesn’t germinate.

Secondly, you can re-seed your garden during the fall, offering substantial time to grow strong before the onset of the next summer.

Mowing is also often an effective way to stop this weed from growing and producing seeds.

Moreover, a rigorously growing turf can be a good defense against new crabgrass seedlings that aren’t much in competition. Perennial ryegrass is a classic example.

2. Spotted Spurge

Spotted Spurge
TypeAnnual broadleaf
Common NamesProstate spurge

Spotted spurge is a nemesis for California’s indigenous crops. They spread quickly, forming a dense, low-growing mat. So how to spot them on your lawn? 

Spotted spurge has dark leaves with a red spot in the middle. Plus, this weed has little pink flowers forming on the branches. 

However, spotted spurge is poisonous as it emits a milky sap that is harmful to skin and animals. Once this weed germinates, it starts to produce huge quantities of seeds and, thus, spreads aggressively. So it would be best if you immediately dug it out from the roots.

How To Control It?

The best way of defense against spotted spurge is prevention. First, you have to ensure that your gardening tools are clean. In addition, mulching will actively prevent them from producing seeds.

If this weed has roots in your yard’s barren areas, try to elevate the mowing height to 2 inches. This will block the sun’s rays, and seeds won’t germinate without sunlight.

3. Dandelion

Common NamesCankerwort, Wild Endive, Yellow Gowan, Puff Ball, Pissenlit, Blow Ball, Irish Daisy, Monks-head.

Do you remember blowing off the seeds of dandelion?

Kids enjoy doing it, but it has a downside. It helps to spread this weed faster as dandelion seeds can float easily in a light breeze. 

Well, you will see dandelions sprouting in most South California gardens. They are among the most recognizable lawn weeds out there. You will see bright yellow flowers blooming before the hairy globe of seeds.

However, dandelions typically emerge in narrow and undernourished lawns. Healthy lawns have the ability to outstrip them.

How To Control It?

 If there is even a bit of its taproot, new plants will germinate. Try to pull dandelions weed out before they grow, setting a deep taproot and seed.

So make sure you have yanked out the taproot completely. The most effective tools are manual ones, such as a forked blade. 

Moreover, you can overseed your garden to leave no bare spots. Then, carry out the necessary fertilization, watering, and mowing properly.

4. Clovers

TypePerennial broadleaf
Common NamesCockleburs, Cudweeds, and Crabgrasses

Now, here comes the unlucky type in the list of California weeds! Why unlucky? Once clovers grow, getting rid of them becomes extremely difficult. 

Interestingly, gardeners of Southern California come across three types of clovers –

  • Oxalis corniculata

It spreads with the help of above-ground runners that root while this weed sprouts.

  • Oxalis pes-caprae

This clover type looks pretty, exhibiting its clover-shaped, bright-green leaves with a yellow flower. But its bulb is so deep that you must pull out entirely to prevent them from growing back.

  • Oxalis corniculata atropurpurea

Its growth is more compact and difficult to spot easily in the dirt, thanks to the purple-colored leaves. 

Now, what makes clovers harder to deal with is the fact that if you even offer the gentlest touch, its pods will explode out the seeds.

How To Control It?

One of the most common ways for clovers to enter a garden is through potted plants. Thus, whenever you purchase a potted plant at the nursery, ensure they are free from clovers.

However, the best way to eradicate clovers from your garden is by hand. Drag the entire taproot system instead of pulling off the leaves.

You May Also Read: Weeds in NJ: Identify the 12 Commons Weeds in New Jersey With Pictures

5. Annual Bluegrass

Annual Bluegrass (Poa Annua)
TypeAnnual turfgrass
Common NamesPoa, Annual Meadowgrass, Low Spear Grass, Meadow Grass, Walkgrass, Six Week Grass. 

They are the golf course owner’s nemesis! Annual bluegrass typically inches its way in the middle of low-cut grass blades, choking out the entire lawn.

These little grass tufts can turn up anywhere. Moreover, their seeds can be easily carried by mower blades, insects, and you to other garden areas.

How To Control It?

Opt for a longer mow to prevent sufficient sunlight from reaching the seeds. On the other hand, you have to use a herbicide to control their growth fully.

6. Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass Weed
TypePerennial turfgrass
Common NamesDhoob, Ethan grass, Durva grass, Dog’s tooth grass, Devil’s grass, Dubo, Bahama grass, Wiregrass, Grama, Scutch grass

Another weed that will make you sweat off while controlling it is Bermuda grass. This weed spreads in three modes – seed, ground-above runners, and underground stems.

So it would be best to have a deeper barrier to keep this weed contained. Bermuda grass can exceptionally emerge in the most landscape fabric.

How to Control it?

You have to eradicate it before this weed forms sod. All underground stems should be removed as the smallest remnant can germinate new shoots. However, you may require to dig up repeatedly to keep the nuisance at bay.

The key to having a weed-free garden is using clean equipment. Yet, fascinatingly, most gardeners strip their yard and cover it using landscape fabric, cardboard, or any other material to smother or bake the roots to death.

Although not a suitable solution, you can use herbicides such as Round-up. Apply it repeatedly to kill the Bermuda grass.

7. Chickweed

Common Chickweed
TypeAnnual broadleaf
Common NamesStarwood, Satin Flower

weed can thrive all year round in foggy, coastal places. 

Hence, you will find common chickweed in lawns and landscaped areas throughout most of California, reaching up to 4300ft. 

Dig this weed out as soon as you see it sprouting on your lawn. They can harbor infectious pests and viruses that will affect your intended harvest. 

However, chickweed is of two types –

  • Common chickweed

This variety is nearly half an inch long and has leaves broader at the base, offering a more delicate appearance.

  • Mouse-ear chickweed

It emerges as a dense prostate patch in gardens and lawns.

How To Control It?

Well, both varieties feature shallow roots. This means you can easily pluck them by hand or hoeing. However, note that the remaining mouse-ear rootstock can make way for new plants. 

Be sure to dig out the entire weed, regardless of the method you apply.

The best defense against mouse-ear chickweed is maintaining a healthy lawn with grasses not mowed too frequently or too short.

Try to water once every seven to ten days; it should be enough to soak up to six to eight inches into the ground.

8. Pigweed

TypeAnnual broadleaf
Common NamesRedroot Pigweed, Common Amaranth, Common Tumbleweed, Red-rooted pigweed, and Pigweed Amaranth

The most ‘problematic’ annual weed title goes to Pigweed. Pigweed is a tough competitor among broadleaf crops thanks to its evolved traits. 

This annual weed loves warm weather and, thus, crops up in early summer. However, it reproduces by seeds and features fleshy red taproot. 

Interestingly, this weed species is edible only when young and soft. This is because young leaves are rich in nutrients.

How To Control It?

Try to dig this weed out before blooming. On the other hand, you can cover your gardening area using winter mulch to prevent sunlight from reaching the seeds. Eventually, they won’t germinate.

Also Read: 10 Types of weeds in Minnesota | Guide to Spot them

6 Unique Ways to Get Rid of Weeds In Your Garden

6 Unique Ways to Get Rid of Weeds In Your Garden

If you want to avoid offering harsh chemical treatments, follow any of the following innovative ways using common household materials to eradicate weeds.

1. Newspaper

You can use newspapers to block oxygen and sunlight from reaching the soil. Eventually, it will dampen the sprouted weeds and stop the new ones from sprouting.

You can put the newspaper in 10-sheet layers and wet them to hold down. Then, you need to cover the newspaper blanket with a mulch of an inch or two.

However, add more layers creating a mulch-newspaper lasagna if you see weeds emerging in the mulch. It will decompose and nutrify the soil.

2. Vinegar

5% of vinegar contains acetic acid that acts as a desiccant, sucking the life out of the plants. However, it’s the best defense against immature roots.

3. Soap

Sounds interesting? Yes, soaps can also be used to eradicate those invaders in your garden. Soaps contain oil that can break down hairy or waxy weed surfaces.

Take your liquid dish detergent and add a few drops to vodka or vinegar sprays, keeping the solution on the leaves.

4. Carpet or shower curtains

You just need to spread them between rows or garden paths and then cover them with mulch. Then, you won’t have to see the unwanted bitter weed heads.

5. Boiling water

If you pour boiling water on weeds, they will burn. However, this is ideally the best way to knock walkway and driveway weeds.

Boiling water eradicates impermeable surfaces and cools down before reaching border plants.

6. Corn Gluten Meal

With this corn by-product, you can prevent the seeds from germinating into weeds. However, while it will stop germination, employ it on established plants.


It isn’t very difficult to identify weeds. All you have to do is remember how it looks and a little knowledge about their time of growth, how the flowers look, and what is the shape of the leaves. With this little info about these weeds that are commonly found in California, you can apply the above-mentioned methods to remove these weeds.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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