8 Most Common Weeds in Illinois with Pictures

Battling weeds in your garden is a never-ending process. Warm temperature and ample soil moisture typically promote faster growth and development of several early-season weed species.

However, many weeds recently sprouting in the gardens of Illinois appeared last fall and overwintered. But various summer annual weed species have currently turned up in fields.

So controlling the dominant weed vegetation is essential. You can utilize herbicides, tillage, or a merger of tactics to control and prevent future growth. Nevertheless, your garden can have many different weed species, and identifying them can be challenging.

This article briefly describes the different weed species you will usually bump into the Illinois fields. Keep on scrolling to identify the weeds and get rid of them immediately!

Why Do Weeds Grow?

A weed doesn’t crop up in a garden randomly. Some weeds love certain soil types. However, the appearance of weeds signifies some weakness or problem in your garden.

Here are some of the factors that provide weeds an intrusion into your garden –

  • Compacted soil
  • Too little or too much fertility
  • Soil that has water drainage issues
  • Soil that stays wet for long periods
  • Shady areas, dry soil in a lawn
  • Problematic pH

However, if you address these issues mentioned above in your garden with a good lawn care program, you can easily refine your lawn’s overall quality and health. Eventually, it will prevent the invaders from springing up between your plants for water and nutrients.

List of 8 Most Common Weeds in Illinois Lawns & Gardens

How many hours have you spent on your knees in your lawn digging, rooting, and pulling to remove weeds? But, fascinatingly, you probably don’t know the everyday weed species that is making you frustrated. This article will delineate some of the most common unwelcome guests spreading throughout your garden. 

1. Dandelion

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

The deeply lobed green leaves with bright yellow flowers lure kids’ attention to adults. However, dandelions’ appearance in your garden signals that it needs immediate attention.

This weed species overruns narrow lawns and most other bare places. Dandelions usually prefer warm climates but can thrive in various weather conditions.

How to Spot Dandelions?

This weed has leaves that create a low rosette and have leaves with deep lobes and tips directing back toward the weed’s center.

Yellow flowers bloom singly on top of the leaves, measuring 2-inch in width. In addition, dandelions have a hollow flower stalk.

A cluster of seeds forms a small puffball that helps this weed spread. Although dandelions can regrow through a bit remnant of their taproot, they naturally spread by seeds only.

How to Control it?

Adequate fertilization and perfect mowing height will help to keep dandelion weed out of your yard. Moreover, a broad-leaf herbicide can also be effective. This herbicide will kill the entire weed without destroying the surrounding grass.

The best defense against dandelions is maintaining a thick lawn. Following a regular feeding program and mowing at a high setting on your mower will let you achieve a thicker lawn.

2. White Clover

White Clover
TypePerennial broad-leaf
Common NamesDutch clover, Trebol blanco, Trebol rastrero, Trefle rampant, Trefle blanc, Trevo-rasteiro, and Trevo-branco

This perennial weed grows low to the ground, and eradicating them can be pretty tricky. White clovers can emerge in many different areas. 

However, they usually invade gardens, especially scanty lawns with soft grass. White clovers even sprout in low nitrogenous soil or are over-fertilized with potassium. As a result, they can sustain low mowing but aren’t a good competitor to taller plants.

How Do We Identify White Clovers?

This short plant can reach up to 6 inches in height, exhibiting leaves and leaflets alternatively. Furthermore, every leaflet displays a faint, white “V” shaped mark.

You will see white flowers held in clusters, nearly 3/4th across. Moreover, white clovers emerge sporadically during the warm months. And they spread through seeds and stolon’s.

How to Control it?

Proper fertilization will encourage grass growth, which will help your garden compete against clovers. However, you can control white clover by using herbicides or through hand-pulling.

Note: Whatever technique you choose to eliminate the weed, you must carry them out once every year to prevent the weeds that can germinate through the seeds.

White clover seeds can thrive in low temperatures and high heat and remain dormant for years before sprouting. So, finally, persistence and patience are what you need while dealing with this weed.

Also Read: 11 Common Weeds With White Flowers (With Pictures to Identify)

3. Crabgrass

TypeAnnual grass
Common NamesFinger-grass, Fonio, Hairy Crabgrass

These common invaders can take advantage of the thin lawns of Illinois, especially the ones mowed short or given frequent, light irrigation.

Crabgrass is a gardener’s nemesis as it can grow aggressively in hot, dry conditions. And single crabgrass can produce thousands of seeds that will sprout next spring.

How To Identify Crabgrass?

They grow in clumps, unfurling light green leaves. Crabgrass even features a zigzag stem and swollen nodes. Moreover, they have no auricles or membranous ligules.

On top of that, you will find hairs on the sheath and blade of large crabgrass. However, the blade on smooth crabgrass above the collar has only a few hairs. There are no rhizomes or stolon’s.

How to Control it?

You can treat a few crabgrasses in your yard with a ready-to-use weed controller. It will kill the weed down to the root if applied as directed.

You can even pull them by hand with a digging knife or hand trowel. First, however, it has to be done before the weed can produce seeds.

Mow at a proper height according to your grass type to discourage crabgrass growth. Feeding your garden with fertilizer during the burgeoning season, every 6 to 8 weeks, is also effective. And if there are any bare spots on your lawn, repair them to keep new plants out.

4. Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy
TypePerennial broad-leaf
Common NamesGill-ver-the-ground, creeping charlie, coltsfoot, tunhoof, run-away-robin, and haymaids

This weed loves shady, moist areas but can thrive in full sun too. Ground ivy is one of the first plants to sprout in the spring. You will be fascinated to know that this weed emits a pungent smell if you crush any part of the plant.

How To Identify Ground Ivy?

This weed has square-shaped stems and kidney-shaped leaves that almost encircle the petiole. Moreover, they have scalloped edges.

Purple flowers bloom in May, but they might be unnoticeable. In addition, ground ivy is characterized by long slender stolon’s rooting at the nodes.

How to Control it?

A great way to get rid of ground ivy is by mowing ivy ground cover till ground level many times a year. It will gradually kill this invader.

Wear thick gloves and drag out any ground ivy from the roots. However, you can use a trowel instead of pulling my hands for stubborn roots. Nevertheless, the best way to treat this weed is by chemical application. First, you can apply the herbicide Triclopyr.

5. Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle
TypePerennial broad-leaf
Common NamesCalifornian thistle, Creeping thistle, Chardon du Canada, Field thistle, and Chardon des champs

Here comes another aggressive perennial weed, highly invasive and incredibly decreased pasture capacity.

Canada’s thistle can hinder wildlife habitat and reforestation. However, this weed rapidly overrides native vegetation, comprising preferable pollinator habitats.

How To Identify Canada Thistle?

This perennial weed has a robust root system, continuously producing new shoots. They invade new areas, outdoing other plant types.

However, they exhibit lance-shaped, alternate, and irregularly lobed leaves with toothed or spiny margins. The leaves are stalkless, and each leaf base surrounding the stem indicates the stem is also spiny.

Moreover, you will find purple, pink, or, occasionally, white flowers blooming in clusters.

How to Control it?

Pre-harvest application of glyphosate can act as a great defense against Canada’s thistle. You can also use household scissors and snip the weed off ground level.

Spraying a premium herbicide can yield desirable results.

6. Purslane

Purslane grass weed
TypeAnnual broad-leaf
Common NamesDuckweed, pusley, garden purslane, little-hogweed, pussley, wild portulaca, verdolaga, pourpier, courpier, beldroega-comum

Purslane is an annual broad leaf that grows swiftly in spring and summer. Therefore, you will commonly find this weed in agricultural and disturbed areas. 

However, common purslane grows well in irrigated conditions, though they prefer dry climatic conditions. 

Nevertheless, you will get a glance more commonly in newly seeded areas. And they are tolerant of droughty, compacted, and poor soils.

How to Identify Purslane?

This mat-forming annual broad-leaf emerges low to the ground. It has waxy, succulent leaves and red stems. Small, yellow flowers appear in summer. In addition, purslane is characterized by a thick, fleshy taproot.

Many gardeners sometimes cultivate purslane as an ornamental annual.

How to Control it?

Firstly note that broken stems of purslane on the soil can resume growth. Well, you can eradicate this plant efficiently by hand-pulling. 

A single purslane plant covers a substantial area. And you will need to bestow only a little effort to clean the large affected area. 

However, using herbicide will also be effective, especially when the purslane is young.

7. Quackgrass

Quackgrass weed
TypePerennial grass
Common NamesCommon couch, quitch grass, quick grass, twitch, scutch grass, witchgrass, and dog grass

Besides a whimsical name, quackgrass is a daunting foe that can quickly make its way to any yard. They are characterized by a strong and deep root system.

However, if split, the root can grow into two different plant clumps, and no specific herbicide can kill it without affecting your garden.

Thus, quackgrass is one of the toughest weeds to eliminate. You will require frequent inspection and persistence to get rid of this grass. Each plant forms nearly 25 seeds that can stay active in the soil for nearly five years.

Moreover, quackgrass captivates small birds that feed on the seeds. But unfortunately, they also tend to drop the seeds, spreading and infesting larger spaces.

How To Identify Quackgrass?

It’s a rapidly growing, grassy weed. The blades are lime green in color and wide. However, quackgrass is best characterized by its claw-like auricles encircling the stem at the sheath’s top.

Another feature of identifying quackgrass is its extensive root and rhizome system.

How To Control It?

Pull up quackgrass as much as possible, but be cautious that you don’t spread the seeds. So bag the weeds in plastic or paper. 

First, try to remove any plants from the immediate area you want to protect. Then, check if there’s any remnant of the weed’s root system in the soil. 

You can also use a non-selective herbicide to treat the affected area. But, overall, make sure that your lawn is thick and healthy enough to keep off any invaders.

For more detail you can read: How to Get Rid of Quackgrass in Your Lawn?

8. Creeping Bentgrass

Creeping Bentgrass
TypePerennial grass
Common NamesCreeping bent, creeping bentgrass, marsh bent, creeping bentgrass, redtop, redtop bentgrass, seaside bent, spreading bent, and seaside bentgrass

It’s a perennial grass commonly used in tees, fairways, and golf course greens. Bentgrass turns puffier if maintained at mowing heights. While the weed spreads by stolon’s, it can intrude on adjacent turf areas.

How Do You Identify It?

Creeping bentgrass is a cool-season grass. They are typically more or lighter blue-green in color than lawn grasses. Moreover, this weed exhibits a much finer texture. They have long and membranous ligules without auricles. Leaves aren’t hairy but ridged.

How To Control It?

You can use a couple of herbicides to kill this weed in your yard. However, whatever chemical you utilize, you have to apply it repeatedly. 

A pre-emergent product will also be effective. Although typically less effective, creeping bentgrass can also be eliminated by hand. 

Its stolons and roots form a thick, matted base beneath the blades. Thus, the weed will lift nearly like a carpet.


Weeds can hinder the growth of plants, encompassing them while competing for soil, space, water, and nutrients. Some weeds also overrun smaller or younger plants. 

So to keep weeds out of your Illinois lawn, you should maintain a thick and healthy lawn and address any problem immediately. 

Remember, proper lawn care and maintenance is the key to a gardener’s success.

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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