Weeds in Michigan: Identify the Most Common Weeds with Pictures

One of the most significant reasons for maintaining a healthy lawn is preventing and controlling weeds. Weeds can turn a nuisance anytime by choking out an entire lawn. In addition, they compete with their surrounding desirable plants for light, water, nutrients, and other factors.

If you keep these intruders at bay, you will need more than occasional spraying and digging. Also, besides being unsightly, some weeds can be poisonous and harmful. Eventually, it affects the growth of the main crops, and thus, eradication is necessary.

However, every weed has a different life cycle and growth habit; thus, they require a targeted control strategy. Some standard control measures include manual removal, properly mowing, applying herbicides, crop rotation and inter-cropping, and planting various resistant crops.

So it’s essential to know about the common weeds of Michigan. And this article will help you with it, allowing you to spot them and take the necessary steps to control or prevent them.

5 Different Weeds in Michigan Lawns

Here are 5 common lawn weeds in Michigan to help you spot them before they can ruin your landscape.

1. Clovers

Scientific NameTrifolium repens
Common NamesToothed bur clover, California burclover, Burr medic, Toothed medick, Suckling clover, Lesser trefoil, Shamrock.

One of the most common weeds ruining Michigan lawns is clover. This weed has creeping stems that help them to spread up to a larger area, nearly a meter wide.

The stems can produce roots wherever they touch the ground. Eventually, they form a perennial and dense green cover, making them hard to eradicate.

This weed sustains in soil having low nitrogen levels, indicating nutrient disparities in the lawn. Clovers can resist repeated heavy grazing or cutting and poor soil conditions. Overall, it’s a tough and persistent weed. However, clover’s presence on your lawn will also indicate the grass’s health.

You will find two different types of clover–white and red. However, white clovers are commonly found in lawns, as they tolerate different soil types and pH. But they don’t thrive in drought-prone and dry areas.

White clovers help control soil erosion thanks to their extensive fibrous root system and vigorous growth. Nevertheless, they are the nemesis of homeowners looking for a lush, beautiful garden or lawn.

Being a leguminous plant, clover has nitrogen-fixing capabilities that can provide fertilizers in its way.

Key Characteristics

This perennial weed grows all year round, creating a low-growing, dense foliage mat.

Interestingly, you will get a valuable clue from its botanical name ‘Trifolium spp.’ – ‘Tri’ comes from the Latin word ‘tres,’ which signifies ‘three,’ and the word ‘folium,’ meaning ‘leaf.’ So as the name suggests, the weed is composed of three-lobed leaves, also known as leaflets.

Each leaflet has lightly serrated edges, and you can easily see a vein in the middle tracing back to the stem. Moreover, you may even find a white flattened or pale green ‘V’ shape on the leaflet. Flowers bloom from winter until summer, flaunting upright flower stalks and dense flower heads.

Flowers are small and pale pink, white, purple, yellow, or red. While it’s a low-growing weedy plant, its stems crawl along the soil surface.

Clovers can damage even the most established lawns if not controlled in the early stages. But the golden rule is to keep your grasses solid and healthy. Avoid aeration and over-seeding to prevent this weed from producing roots.

Also Read: Weeds in Maryland: A Comprehensive Guide to Identify the Weeds

2. Wild Violets

Violets wild flower
Scientific NameViola papilionacea
Common NamesBlue violet and Meadow violet

Another common invader of well-established lawns, turf grass, landscapes, and pastures is a wild violet. Some gardeners consider these weeds as beautiful decorative plants, while, for others, they are annoying weeds.

Wild violets are very hard to control because of their aggressive behavior. However, they are characterized by fibrous and deep root systems. This weed grows closer to the ground, creating dense colonies, and can sustain in yards frequently mowed.

Although they are commonly seen in shady and moist landscapes, wild violets can tolerate arid and sunny areas. Fascinatingly, besides being edible, the leaves and flowers are known to have medicinal utilities, rich in vitamins A and C. Plus, the leaves can be cooked and used as salads.

Moreover, this weed can thrive in frost, growing pleasantly during the fall and winter.

Key Characteristics

You will usually find violet flowers, but colors can range between deep blue and white, appearing on a leafless stalk. For example, wooly blue and common blue violets typically exhibit blue, violet, or purple color.

On the contrary, you will see white petaled flowers with violet tinge on the inside among confederate wild violets.

Leaves are serrated, waxy, and oblong-shaped with a pointed tip. Another characteristic trait of this broadleaf weed is its underground stems that grow in thick clumps. Also called rhizomes, these stems make the weed resistant to drought by storing water.

Rhizomes can produce new shoots if you pluck the plant from above. Well, wild violets are pretty hard to control. They are ineffective for mowing, and just a few herbicides can help in controlling partially. So you will execute herbicide treatment multiple times for efficient control.

3. Dallis Grass

Scientific NamePaspalum dilatatum
Common NamesCommon paspalum, Caterpillar grass, Bastard millet grass, Golden crown grass, Large watergrass, Hairy flowered paspalum, Large watershed paspalum, Watergrass, and Paspalum grass.

This perennial, warm-season ugly grass can choke out your ornamental garden anytime, robing water and nutrients. Dallisgrass forms uneven and ugly clumps in turfgrass. Besides, their growth rate is faster than most turf grasses. They are harder to control as this perennial weed is adapted to low mowing heights.

Note that dallisgrass can trick you easily in mowed sites by developing low seed heads nearly parallel to the soil surface. After escaping mowing, they can crop up again above the mown turf grass. No worries! Here are some key traits that make them easier to spot.

Key Characteristics

If you see clumping grass sprouting in uneven circular patches in your lawn, it’s most likely the dallisgrass. This unique growth pattern differentiates the weed from other lawn grasses, such as rye or tall fescue.

The following identifying trait is their broad leaves that measure from ¼ to ½ inches in width. The leaf blades are gray-green and coarse-textured.

You will see a membranous tissue or ligule at each leaf blade’s base, along with a few hairs but no auricles or projections. However, the blades can expand up to 10 inches with a visible midrib if not mowed.

Dallisgrass comes with short, shallow, and underground stems that develop outward. The stems or rhizomes possess short internodes resembling concentric rings. By looking at these unique rhizomes, you can differentiate this weed from other clumping grasses.

Moreover, rhizomes can give rise to new plants. New dallisgrass can even grow from seeds. Another quickly identifying trait is the seedhead.

The flowering stalk can grow from 1 to 5 feet tall, flaunting several drooping branches. Interestingly, the branches show an alternate arrangement towards the stalk’s tip.

Every branch comprises egg-shaped, flat seeds arranged in 2 to 4 rows along the entire length. However, the flowering stalk can be purple or pale green. Seeds are the primary means of spreading as they are produced abundantly. And lawn mowers, water, humans, and animals actively scatter the seeds to new places.

The germination time is usually between spring and summer. Dallisgrass can thrive in heavy clay and sandy soils and lower temperatures. Moreover, once they establish, they can tolerate drought and frost.

So the most effective way to control dallisgrass in lawns or gardens is to stop them from getting established and producing new plants. Simply dig the young plants out before rhizomes are formed. You can even dig out mature plants, but make sure you don’t leave rhizomes, as they can grow back.

Also Read: Weeds in Indiana: Identify 6 Different Common Weeds with Pictures

4. Chicory

Scientific NameCichorium intybus
Common NamesBlue weed, Blue daisy, Coffeeweed, Blue sailors, Cornflower, Common chicory, Hendibeh, Ragged sailors, Horseweed, Wild bachelor’s buttons, Succor, Witloof, and Wild endive.

You can commonly see blooming, beautiful blue flowers on several disturbing lawns. Chicory, the biennial member of the daisy family, grows pleasantly in well-drained and full-sun soil. But they can tolerate various soil types. 

However, you will love to savor the edible leaves of this herbaceous plant, especially during autumn and spring. The leaves taste a bit bitter under the summer heat. Blanch them, and then use them as a salad or a cooked vegetable.

Key Characteristics

Deep, thick, and strong taproot that emits milky and bitter juice characterizes chicory. The stems are round, erect, hollow, and almost leafless, growing up to 5 feet in height. Moreover, the upper portions of the stems have no leaves, while the lower portions are hairy.

Leaves are alternately arranged and look like dandelion leaves at the base. However, you will see the leaves getting smaller as you go to the top of the stem. Rosette leaves are lance-shaped or oblong, measuring 2 to 6 inches long, and both surfaces have rough hairs.

On the other hand, you will see small, lance-shaped, sparse, and alternate stem leaves with a little toothed or smooth edge. Flower heads appear in clusters on the upper branches, either stalkless or short-stalked. Chicory begins flowering in July and continues till October. 

Each flower head flaunts many petal-like, bright blue flowers, toothed and square-ended. However, fruits are single-seeded and dark brown. Moreover, they are five-angled and wedge-shaped. Finally, mature chicory can grow between 90 and 180 cm tall.

Try to cut chicory below two inches in your lawn, as this plant won’t produce flowers or leaves at this height. However, the best defense against chicory is spot treatment using a weed killer. Reseed the treated spaces after treatment.

5. Carpetweed

Carpetweed (Ajuga pyramidalis)
Scientific NameMollugo verticillata
Common NamesIndian chickweed, Green carpetweed, Devil’s grip, and Whorled chickweed.

As the name indicates, carpetweed forms a prostrate mat while spreading aggressively on the ground. This weed is unique, usually seen in sandy soils and dry areas. But they can even germinate pleasantly in moist soils. 

The weed can sustain in full sun and disturbed spaces, so you will frequently find them in newly planted lawns or tilled gardens along railways or roadsides.

However, this annual summer weed sprouts in the late spring. They grow rapidly on warm soil, creating a rounded mat of nearly 2 feet. And they spread in every direction from their barely branched taproot. 

As a result, the weed stays closer to the soil surface as a mat that doesn’t usually surpass 5 inches in height.

Key Characteristics

The stems are green and smooth, with branches at the nodes. They often show a pinkish swelling at the base and ling internodes in the middle of the nodes. The leaves are narrow, long, and sessile, growing in flat three to eight whorls at every node.

You will find a smooth green leaf, about 1 ½ inches long and ¼ inches in width, with no hairs. However, the leaf shape ranges from elliptical, linear, and oblanceolate to obovate. Some leaves may even have pointed tips. They can even be rounded and widely spatulated.

Flowers emerge for nearly two months, from mid-summer till early fall, in clusters of 2 to 5 flowers. They are small and star-shaped and have long stalks. Besides, flowers feature five sepals that resemble petals every ¼ to 1/8 inch in width.

However, you will find green sepals beneath and greenish-white to entirely white on the upper surface.

Flowers boost a central green tripartite-styled ovary, surrounded by 3 to 5 white stamens. Furthermore, they bear small, three-valved, egg-shaped, and thin-walled fruit capsules consisting of nearly 35 seeds. Once ripened, the fruits split up and open.

Seeds range from reddish-brown to orange-red and are shaped like kidney-bean. On top, they are glossy and feature curved brown ridges on the sides. Carpetweed form colonies by readily reseeding.

They reproduce by seeds only, and small mammals and birds are responsible for spreading the seeds from one place to another.

The best way to control carpetweed is to maintain an actively growing and dense turf via proper fertilization, mowing, and watering.

However, the best time to control this summer weed is during early summer or late spring. At this time, the turf can even recover the spaces that the weeds previously occupied.

You May Also Read: Weeds in Houston: Identify 7 Common Weeds with Pictures


Weeds can pop up on a lawn for various reasons. They might be looking for a warmer spot to germinate or can be captivated by the nutrients in the soil. In addition, birds or animals often deposit the weed seed in a new space after eating. 

Whatever the case, weeds will leave no opportunity to crop up, sprout, and spread. And eventually, they can ruin a well-established lawn or garden. Thus, make sure your lawn is healthy to keep them weed-free.

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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