Weeds in NC | Spot 6 Common Weeds With Pictures

The one universal nemesis of lawncare fanatics is weed. These unwanted plants crop up throughout the year, demolishing the look of a well-manicured garden. On top of that, weeds can even affect the health of a lawn, depending on their variety.

Many gardeners in North Carolina spend thousands of bucks every year to eradicate these weeds. But the war continues! Weeds compete with surrounding plants and turfgrass for space, water, nutrients, and light.

So the best you can do is control these unwanted weeds before they spread and prevent future growth with pre-emergent weed killers.

Keep reading as you can explore some of the most common weeds invading the North Carolina lawns.

Classification of Weeds

Weeds are classified into four types:

  • Summer Annuals: These weeds sprout from March through July, based on their location. Flowers bloom in the summer and wear in the fall.
  • Winter Annuals: They start to grow during the fall and early winter. Winter annuals usually die as the warm weather steps in the spring and summer. But some varieties may continue to sprout during early summer.
  • Biennials: Interestingly, these weeds complete their life cycle in two years. The vegetative structures like stems, roots, and leaves grow in the first year and reproductive structures like seeds and flowers in the second.
  • Perennials: These weeds can sustain over two years, producing seeds every season.

6 Most Common Weeds of North Carolina

Whether it’s Bermuda, Zoysia, or Centipede, weeds are unwanted on your lawn. So, what are the most common weeds seen in North Carolina gardens? Can you spot them?

Let’s find out the culprits of gardeners’ headaches and learn how to eliminate them.

1.  Wild Violets

Violets wild flower
TypeWinter annual or Perennial weed
Common NamesBlue violet, Meadow violet, and Hooded blue-violet

Topping the list is the one that is among the most difficult to control – wild violet. This aggressive weed can choke out a garden. This is because they take advantage of the shady, fertile areas and love moist soils. Moreover, this weed often intrudes yards from adjacent wooded spaces. 

And wild violets can also germinate quite well in mulched areas and flower beds.

How do you identify it?

Wild violet ranges from 2 to 12 inches in height. It displays heart-shaped leaves with a waxy coating and scalloped edges. With fleshy, underground stems, wild violets spread aggressively across the garden. And flowers range from light blue to deep purple.

Purple flowers often bloom in spring. Wild violet flowers feature five petals; however, the flowers can be yellow or white too. This weed forms a self-pollinating flower beneath the ground, creating seeds. They spread over a wide area and form dense colonies that will be heavy on you.

How to control it?

Mow at a height that’s suited for your yard. Eventually, the grass will grow thick and achieve a deep root system. Moreover, feeding your lawn regularly (2 to 4 times per year) will render nutrients to the grass. As a result, they will turn strong and thick, crowding wild violets out.

On the other hand, you can dig out small clumps by hand. First, however, make sure that the entire root system is eliminated.

2. Dandelion

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

Kids get lured to the bright yellow flowers of dandelions, but they are a pesky nuisance to lawn enthusiasts. It is a perennial broad leaf with roots that can reach up to 1 foot deep into the soil. However, most of these weeds bloom from May through June.

Dandelions can release about 400 seeds, rapidly spread by the wind on larger areas. Humans, especially children, usually pick the flowers and blow on the seeds as they love watching them float. But the downside is that this helps this plant to spread.

How do you identify it?

Dandelions have yellow flowers that convert into seed balls. They are characterized by basal leaves that grow from the bottom of the hollow stem and thick roots. However, the lobed leaves produce a milky sap.

A common belief is that the dandelion is a flower, but it’s not! Dandelions are actually many flowers clumped together.

How to control it?

This weed is edible and nutritious. But dandelions can invade a beautiful, well-maintained lawn. Thus, it would be best to get rid of dandelions immediately before they take over your garden. So prevention begins by controlling this weed at an early stage.

A dandelion root typically grows to nearly 3-inch in length. So hand removal can be difficult. Set your mower at a higher setting to drag them out.

Note that dandelion seeds seek lawns with less heat. So maintaining a healthy and thick lawn can choke them out. Moreover, pre-emergent weed control will probably be the most effective way to control dandelions’ spread and, more significantly, their return to your yard.

3. Goosegrass

TypePerennial grass
Common NamesYard-grass, Wiregrass, Crowfootgrass

You will see this weed commonly on several lawns in North Carolina. Goosegrass emerges in compacted or heavy wear areas. It intrudes on agricultural land and other troubled areas that get little summer water.

Goosegrass grows closer to the soil and has variable species that can sustain different environmental conditions. However, they can’t tolerate frost.

How do you identify it?

Goosegrass appears in a pale green matlike clump. They have flat stems that sprout in a low rosette. However, this weed has fleshy stems at the base. Goosegrass can grow up to 80cm (2-1/2 feet) in width. 

In addition, there are long hairs on the collars, blade bases, or upper sheath margins. Otherwise, leaf blades are almost hairless. Well, you will find crumpled leaves along the mid-vein close to the blade’s base. 

Goosegrass has flattened, open, crumpled, and whitish sheaths at the base around the collar. Finally, the weed starts flowering between July and October. 

Flowers form in clusters with stiff spikes. 

You will usually see two to six spikes at the end of the flowering stem and one or two beneath the terminal cluster. 

Fruits come with a thin covering and are small, reddish brown in color.

How to control it?

If goosegrass is already sprouting in your garden, use a specific post-emergent herbicide labeled for goosegrass. Then, follow the instructions, blend the herbicide with water, and put it in a hand pump sprayer. 

However, the best defense against goosegrass is a pre-emergent herbicide. Remember that this weed rarely germinates in dense, healthy lawns. So proper irrigation, fertilization, and mowing can help you prevent the growth of goosegrass. 

You can even remove this weed by hand, as they have centralized roots. However, you will need a gardening tool to remove the plant if it grows bigger than a few inches.

You May Also Read: 8 Most Common Weeds in Illinois with Pictures

4. Foxtail

Type Perennial grass
Common NamesWild millet, Green bristlegrass, and Pigongrass.

Another weed you will commonly see along the roadside of North Carolina is foxtail. However, this weed is also a common intruder in a well-maintained lawn or turf, causing headaches to gardeners. 

Foxtail is annual and, occasionally, perennial. It grows in dry or moist soil and can survive in various weather conditions. It produces thick seeds that spread prolifically. While the plant grows rapidly, controlling this weed can be challenging.

How do you identify it?

Foxtail boasts wide leaf blades, much like the turf grass with which they compete for soil, water, and heat. Moreover, the leaves are hairy at the base, and the stem emerges from the leaf’s base. 

On top of that, stems have long spikes of flowers, nearly 3 to 10 inches, that turn into seeds at the season’s end. Nevertheless, foxtail is often challenging to identify while it blends in with grass. This is because its leaves stay parallel to the ground as they grow low to the soil.

How to control it?

The first defense against foxtail is by keeping your lawn healthy. Make sure there are no bare spaces where these invaders’ seeds can lodge and germinate. Proper fertilization and mowing are utterly essential for a healthy lawn. 

A pre-emergent herbicide will also be useful for controlling the weed. It’s even safe for turf grasses. However, a post-emergence herbicide is your best bet if the weed has already appeared. 

Interestingly, you can apply vinegar directly onto the foxtail during the seedling stage. But it won’t have much effect on older plants.

5. Plantain

TypeBroad-leaf plantain
Common NamesRibwort plantain, Narrowleaf Plantain, Ribleaf, Lamb’s tongue, Buckhorn.

Plaintain weed grows everywhere, from playgrounds to parking lots. As a result, it is often rejected as a ubiquitous garden pest. But the fact is that plantain is widespread and edible and has been used to make traditional medicine for centuries.

This weed compound decrease inflammation, promote wound healing and improves digestion. However, plantain is indeed a hardy weed plant. They sprout all year-round in different climates; however, they die in harsh winters.

How do you identify it?

Plantain is characterized by protruding stalk and large leaves with parallel veins. The weed grows low to the ground, and the leaves appear in a basal rosette, growing at the plant base. Moreover, the leaves overlap to create a rose-like shape.

You can also identify a plantain through its central flower spike, enclosed in tiny flowers with four transparent petals.

How to control it?

Check out the following process:

  • Firstly, take a dandelion digger or a flat screwdriver to loosen the soil surrounding the taproot.
  • Now, drag the entire root and plant out if the root seems free.

However, if you see any flower stalks, pull them out immediately. Likewise, you can prevent the weed from spreading its seeds all over your lawn. Spot treating the lawn with a chemical can also get your work done.

Finally, do something about soil compaction to prevent the weed from returning. This weed can contaminate gardening tools used in the yard, including mowers. So clean all the tools before utilizing them again for gardening purposes to prevent the weed’s spread.

6. Nutsedge

TypePerennial turfgrass
Common NamesJava grass, Purple nut sedge, Nutgrass, Coco-grass, Red nut sedge, and Khmer kravanh chruk.

The next on our list is another aggressive weed that’s hard to deal with is nutsedge, also sometimes referred to as ‘nutgrass.’ This perennial weed can crop up in your lawn and flower garden, spelling trouble for owners. In addition, they are sedges that return yearly in different ways that complicate their control.

However, nutsedge creates dense colonies, significantly reducing the intended harvests. In addition, they can sustain in moist places with poor drainage.

How do you identify it?

You can rarely find nutsedge seedlings. However, their leaves are similar to the mature ones in appearance, but they are finer and smaller. Seedlings feature a bit triangular stem and a pale midvein area. 

Well, a mature nutsedge weed plant shows hairless and erect stems. The leaves are stiff, thick, and V-shaped. And they come arranged in sets of three. However, yellow nutsedge reaches 3 feet in height and exhibits light green leaves with pointed tips. 

On the contrary, purple nutsedge can grow up to 1-1/3feet in height, and its leaves are dark green with rounded tips. Well, purple nutsedge flowers range from purplish brown to dark reddish in color. Reversely, you will see straw-colored to gold brown flowers blooming on yellow nutsedge. 

However, the key feature to identifying nutsedge is their triangular stems.

How to control it?

Nutsedge is tougher to control because of its strong root system. Nonetheless, you can eliminate this pesky weed with appropriate herbicide and correct know-how. 

A post-emergent herbicide labeled nutsedge can tackle the already bloomed nutsedge plants. However, you may have to complete the treatment more than once for more effective control. 

While this weed can thrive in poor drainage areas, be careful of the areas in your garden that do not drain properly. Another effective way to eliminate the weed is by mowing at the best height per your grass type. 

Don’t forget to apply fertilizer regularly and maintain the correct soil pH. However, you can also manually pick nutsedge in your yard. In that case, you must dig up to nearly 10-inch to get off the entire weed.

Also Read: Weeds in Texas | Spot 13 Different Types of Weeds in your Garden With Pictures

The Takeaway

In short, weeds are plants that grow in unwanted areas, disrupting the look of a lawn and competing with the surrounding desired plants for water, nutrients & more. So whether edible or invasive, you have to get rid of weeds in no time.

Lawn owners in North Carolina have various options, from herbicides and chemicals to natural remedies. Moreover, remember that there are different weed species, and no two are the same. Thus, you may need to imply multiple treatments to get a garden up to par.

Whatever method you utilize, do it in time before the invaders choke up your beautiful garden!

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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