Weeds are ugly and stubborn. They typically crop up in the tidiest of the established gardens, ruining the entire look and cultivated crops.
They are the primary sinners that cause frustration, embarrassment, and headaches to Wisconsin homeowners
They are a nuisance. Even after pulling out the weed, the seeds can hang on the soil, staying viable for years. If you ignore them, they will turn ugly in no time. However, you aren’t alone in the battle of weeds.
Are you aware of the most common weeds infesting lawns in WI? What are their crucial identification traits?
It might not be easy to identify all weeds on your lawn. However, spotting major weed species will be the first significant step for successful control. Let’s find out the answers here!
This article lists some of the most common weeds suppressing cultivated plants in Wisconsin lawns by robbing nutrients, light, and water.
7 Common Weeds Invading Wisconsin Lawns
Here are 7 common weeds invading Wisconsin lawns. Let us dive right in!
1. Creeping Charlie
|Lamiaceae (Mint family)
|Ground ivy, Creeping jenny, Gill-on-the-ground, Tunhoof, Alehoof, Field balm, Catsfoot, Run-away-robin.
Considered a nuisance lawn weed, Creeping Charlie usually intrudes on lawns or gardens that are poorly maintained. Once they get established, this weed will subdue the growth of the desirable plants surrounding them.
This perennial weed is an early spring bloomer that prefers shaded areas with damp, slightly alkaline, and acidic soils. Creeping, Charlie spreads through the stems growing on the soil surface.
Also commonly known as ‘runners,’ these stems spread laterally and grow in an easily recognizable mat-like form.
Fascinatingly, the ‘Creeping Charlie’ name comes from the weed’s creeping stems developing along the ground. Creeping Charlie can grow aggressively through stems, roots, and seeds and also crawl the walls of buildings.
Besides being a weed, Creeping Charlie was also once recognized for its medicinal benefits. They were considered edible, having a bitter, mint-like flavor.
Nevertheless, Creeping Charlie is a rapidly spreading weed that can easily choke out bigger lawns.
The vines growing across the ground feature tiny nodes that create rhizomes and roots beneath the soil. So, while pulling out creeping Charlie from the roots, ensure you don’t leave even the tiniest bit of rhizomes as they can regrow.
You can quickly discover this weed in your garden with its unique minty aroma. Another distinct characteristic of Creeping Charlie is the shape of their leaves. They look like cats’ paws; hence, they are also often called cat paws.
The leaves are soft with rounded, smooth edges and bear a hairy-like texture. However, you will find light lavender to dark purple-colored flowers blooming on this weed from spring to early summer, shaped like a funnel. Another key identification trait is their square-shaped stem.
Their roots are strong and extend across the soil surface in a mat-like texture. When winter enters, Creeping Charlie dies off, returning as green and lush in the spring again.
The invasive nature of this weed is largely due to its self-propagating nature. Besides seeds, they accomplish it through rhizomes.
This weed also seems to bear a built-up or natural chemical resistance, making it impervious to herbicides. Apart from this, Creeping Charlie is immune to the mower.
2. Common Waterhemp
|Summer annual broadleaf
|Roughfruit amaranth, Tall waterhemp, Rough-fruited waterhemp, Common waterhemp.
Common waterhemp belongs to the pigweed family. During the early growth stages, there are higher chances of confusing this weed with green or red-root pigweed. But you can distinguish them by looking at their narrow, hairless leaves with wavy margins and utterly smooth stems.
Moreover, matured waterhemps are usually taller than other pigweed members, ranging between 1.5m and 2.5m. They appear narrow, and stem colors range from purple/red to green.
This summer, annual weeds grow up to 3m in height. You will see oar-shaped leaves in seedlings; the first leaves emerge as lance-shaped with a tiny notch at the leaf’s tip.
Leaves have no hairs and are either lanceolate or oval. They even appear waxy and exhibit an alternate arrangement. The stems appear vibrant, from pink and green to murky red. Moreover, they look glossy and have no hair.
While this weed is dioecious, you will find male and female parts on separate plants. Bracts and flowers range from reddish to green-pink and bear densely packed spikes. Another distinguishing feature is their well-developed fibrous root system.
Seeds are dark red to black. They measure 0.8 to 1.0mm in diameter, making them difficult to spot with the naked eye.
Common waterhemps pop up throughout the spring, and residual herbicides will offer effective early-season control.
|Fabaceae (Legume family)
|Dutch clover, Ladino clover, Honeysuckle clover, Purplewort, White clover, Shamrock, White Dutch clover, and White trefoil.
Another widespread and common weed in gardens, lawns, and disturbed areas is clover. Another fun fact is that clovers produce nitrogen, allowing them to sustain in undernourished lawns. So the best defense against this weed is maintaining a well-maintained and healthy lawn or garden.
The most common clover types are red and white clover. They have different names because of their colors; otherwise, both are identical in appearance. This nuisance lawn weed can expand to flowerbeds, making it beneficial to pollinators.
Each clover plant can grow up to a meter wide, forming a mat of creeping stems over a larger area. However, roots will grow wherever the stems touch the soil. Eventually, they form a dense, green cover that makes it challenging to eradicate.
Clovers have creeping stems or stolons that develop closer to the soil surface and root sprouts at their junctions, called nodes. Hairless leaves grow alternately with long stalks and three leaflets. However, each leaflet is either heart-shaped, egg-shaped, or oval.
The upper surface displays v-shaped, paler green margins and has notched or rounded tips. Clovers have small pale pink or white flowers shaped like peas. However, five-petaled flowers bloom primarily in spring and early summer in dense rounded clusters at the long stalks.
You will find five reddish or green sepals attached to a small tube. On the other hand, each fruit bears three to four seeds.
Clovers choke out their surrounding plants and grasses, robbing water and nutrients. If left uncontrolled, they will expand all over your lawn. Moreover, their appearance also indicates the soil doesn’t have sufficient nitrogen. In that case, you can apply fertilizer rich in nitrogen.
4. Annual Meadowgrass
|Annual blue grass, Annual meadow grass, Wintergrass, and Speargrass.
Indiana gardeners’ next common lawn nemesis is the annual meadowgrass that sprouts and grows throughout the late summer and fall. Flowers start blooming the following spring.
Annual meadowgrass is a yearly cool-season weed that grows close to the ground. As a result, they look entirely different from the persisting grass in yards, hampering their aesthetic.
Reproduction is by seeds that can sprout throughout the year. However, they can be identified by their white seedheads germinating during the spring and early summer. Moreover, you will find them leaving ugly brown patches after dying in the summer.
Annual bluegrass can thrive at low mowing heights on gold fields. And they can tolerate scorched to very wet climates and the hottest to the coldest environments.
The weed has light green, hairless leaves with a narrow mid vein and a pointed membranous ligule. You will find the leaves folded in the butt, and you also can see wavy margins at the leaves’ bases. Moreover, the essential trait of this weed is the boat-shaped leaf tips.
Annual bluegrass doesn’t have auricles and doesn’t produce stolons or rhizomes. The flower seed head is pyramid-shaped, white, and feathery. Remember that seed head production is highest during the spring. Besides spring, you can also find seed heads in the summer or winter.
This weed plant produces viable seeds soon after germination, typically within a day. When the seeds mature, they turn light brown and measure nearly 2m in width and 2 to 4mm long. Finally, pedicelled, flattened ovoid spikelets bearing about 3 to 7 fertile flowers.
Although the weed can thrive in different soil conditions, it loves damp and shady garden areas. Thus, avoid overwatering and also set the mowing height high. Besides, don’t forget to fertilize regularly.
5. Plumeless Thistle
|Carduus acanthoides L.
|Spiny plumeless thistle and Welted thistle.
Plumeless thistle is a biennial weed that loves moist and wet soils and disturbed or open areas. The weed is well-recognized for its ability to battle tree seedlings that gardeners planted in cut blocks. As a result, they can suppress native vegetation or cultivated plants in lawns.
With the help of water, wind, and animals, a plumeless thistle can quickly spread from one lawn to another.
Plumeless thistles have been pinnately divided into deeply lobed leaves, measuring nearly 8 cm in width and 25 cm in length. Long and soft hairs even cover the leaves beneath. Stems grow to erect up to 1 to 4 feet, developing a strong, fleshy taproot.
However, branching stems with leaf-like spines expanding to flowering heads will appear. On the other hand, these flower heads may occur in clusters or solitary at the ends of branches, ranging from pink to purplish. The blooming time is between July and October.
Another distinguishing feature is their four-angled, fluffy dry seed without feathery pappus.
The most effective way to deal with small infestations is by hand-pulling, and you can do it throughout the year. However, it’s recommended to do before seed development.
|Hairy crabgrass, Large crabgrass, Hairy finger-grass, Crowfoot grass, Summer grass, and Watergrass.
Here is another most common weed causing headaches to lawn owners in Wisconsin and worldwide – Crabgrass! This summer, annual weed is famous for claiming that each plant can create up to 150,000 seeds. And the bad seed stays viable to sprout the following spring all over again.
Crabgrass is a pain. Many often mistake this weed for tall fescue that sprouts in clumps. But remember that crabgrasses will germinate only in perfect soil temperatures.
Young seedlings feature pointed, broad leaves resembling corn plants. With maturity, side shoots will appear that spread and root into the soil, producing a zigzag appearance.
However, crabgrass is more accessible to identify on the lawn by its lime green to yellowish green color. Their leaves are even more comprehensive than the ones of the desirable turf grasses.
Crabgrass is of two types – large or hairy and small or smooth. The smooth ones are more commonly seen germinating in bare spots. On the other hand, hairy crabgrass grows erect and consists of hairs on both leaf surfaces.
Generally, crabgrass has hairless or smooth leaves, and the stem’s base can be hairy.
Your best bet to control Crabgrass is usually a multi-pronged attack that begins with an on-time spring application of pre-emergent herbicide.
7. Broadleaf Plantain
|Cart track plant, Cuckoo’s bread, Dooryard plantain, Doorweed, Great plantain, Englishman’s-foot, Common plantain.
This common stubborn lawn weed can resist mowing, and credit goes to its low basal leaves. Broadleaf plantain takes advantage of neglected or disturbed lawns, especially the damp areas that receive the least sunlight.
They can survive throughout the winter because of their characteristic thick, shallow taproot of nearly 18 inches.
According to its fascinating history, broadleaf plantain was initially recognized for its medicinal uses. The leaf extracts were utilized for treating foot injuries, whereas the young leaves served as salads. They were even known to have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties.
Green, egg-shaped, or oval leaves develop in a rosette, measuring 5 to 30cm long. They even have thick stems at the base, and you can see string-like veins on the leaves. Plus, the base contains five to seven parallel veins. Leaves can even have sparsely short hairs or be hairless.
Flowers bloom from spring to late autumn, featuring spikes on upright, leafless stalks. Each spike consists of greenish, tiny, and stalkless greenish flowers with a granular texture. Moreover, every flower consists of one pistil, two stamens, and four petals.
On top of that, flowers develop egg-shaped seedpods that bear dark seeds. Well, mechanical methods, like cultivation or hoeing, can uproot the root system entirely if applied thoroughly.
They are efficient in controlling young plants. However, mulches will be a great way to control broadleaf plantain in backyard lawns or flowerbeds.
Different lawn weeds grow at different times of year in Wisconsin. However, most of the annoying weeds sprout during the fall. Every weed might need different treatments to prevent and control.
So it’s necessary to acknowledge the common weeds that can invade your lawns anytime.
And weed control is a continuous process. After all, it would help if you endeavored to have a healthy lawn with fewer weeds.