Many Common Florida Weeds Can be Found on Our Lawns — But They Don’t Have to Stay
Weeds are one contributing factor that prevent beautiful Florida lawns from looking their best during summer months.
It can be frustrating to maintain a lawn with so many types of weeds to combat, especially if the homeowner doesn’t know much about the different common Florida lawn weeds.
Being able to identify the types of weeds in Florida can make all the difference in having a lush, green, and healthy yard, or one that is overgrown with invasive and unsightly weeds.
Types of Florida Lawn Weeds
Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago rugelii Plantago majo)
The broadleaf plantain, or common plantain, is the most common weed found throughout the United States, including in Florida.
It’s much like the dandelion throughout the United States — a perennial, adaptive weed that can grow in almost any type of Florida lawn or wooded area.
While the broadleaf plantain is considered a weed — just like the dandelion, it can be used for medicinal purposes and overall health benefits. It has plenty of nutrients that can be used for helping with chronic diarrhea and some digestive tract disorders.
Commonly found in wet, compacted soil, the broadleaf plantain has oval or egg-shaped leaves with distinct veins that run parallel to each other. It can survive under aggressive mowing and constant trampling conditions, making it a difficult weed for Florida residents to remove from their lawn.
Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
A biennial plant, the bull thistle is also known as the spike thistle or common thistle and can grow between 2 to 5 feet in height.
Identified by the rosette form, the bull thistle contains many spine-like leaves that are rough to the touch. Small rose-colored blossoms can be produced on it as well.
The bull thistle weed is a good source of nectar used by a variety of pollinating insects, but it is generally not something animals eat, making it a weed that grows in abundance.
Bull thistles can only be spread by their seeds, not by their roots. Since animals tend to ignore the weed, it prospers in areas that are bare, either because of previous disturbances or due to heavy grazing.
There are nine different types of thistle species found in Florida, including the bull thistle. Others found in Florida include swamp thistle, purple or yellow thistle, and Virginia thistle, among others. The removal of thistles, no matter the species, is the same throughout Florida.
Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)
Crabgrass is an annual weed that pops up every summer.
Also known as finger-grass and fonio, the invasive weed is adaptive and can take on several different appearances. Crabgrass prefers to grow in the bare or thin areas of your lawn.
Planting grass seeds in bare locations can help to deter crabgrass from taking over your lawn. Once the seeds you’ve planted begin to grow, it’s imperative to have a professional maintain the overall health and appearance of your landscape.
Crabgrass is made up of blades that are two inches in length, shaped like fingers, rough to the touch, sometimes with small hairs and rolled at the bud of the plant.
In Florida, five different types of crabgrass can be found, including: India crabgrass, smooth crabgrass, tropical crabgrass, blanket crabgrass, and southern crabgrass.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officnale)
Dandelions are one of the toughest weeds to rid from your lawn.
The seeds can spread easily, whether it’s a slight breeze or other form of disturbance, and the yellow flowers can grow in just about any environment.
While they typically prefer moist soil to grow, they’ll thrive anywhere and can even spread underground.
The weed’s roots can grow to be up to 10 inches tall. And if they’re not removed properly, the slightest breakage in the root will allow the plant to regenerate itself.
Dandelions are best known by the yellow flower heads that turn white, meant for spreading seeds to grow more flowers. The base of the plant lies low and flat to the ground, with long, tooth-shaped leaves.
Most commonly, dandelions thrive in moist soil with plenty of sun. With the abundance of sun Florida gets during the summer months, this type of weed is very common.
Goosegrass (Eleusin indica)
Goosegrass is also known as the Indian goosegrass, wiregrass, yard-grass, or crow-foot grass.
An annual weed that can become quite invasive in certain areas, goosegrass is most prevalent in exposed, well disturbed areas, but can adapt to other conditions such as low mowing heights and dry, compacted soil.
Most typically, you can find goosegrass on the green area of a golf course, something Florida is obviously well known for having an abundance of, making it commonplace throughout Florida. Goosegrass is best known for its flat, white stems and smooth, hairless blades.
Proper lawn care is the best solution to keeping goosegrass from springing up. Keeping your lawn well-watered and proper height that encourages the grass to grow thick and strong is the best course of action.
Matchweed (Phyla nodiflora)
Matchweed can go by other names including: the frog fruit, sawtooth frog fruit, and the turkey tangle.
This weed typically grows in tropical climates, which makes Florida the ideal place for it to thrive. Consisting of a cluster made up of a purple center, surrounded by pink to white flowers, the matchweed gets its name from its match head shape.
Matchweed prefers soil that is very moist and areas around limestone. Making sure your lawn is properly aerated, and following a proper watering schedule, can help to prevent matchweed infestations.
Nutsedge (Cyperus albostriatus)
Commonly known as papyrus sedges, flatsedges, umbrella-sedges, and galingales, nutsedge can be difficult to manage due to their resilience to extreme conditions like heat, drought, even flooding.
The grass-like weed is made up of blades with yellow or purple leaves and flowers at the tip of the stem. Nutsedge can grow between 8 to 14 inches deep into the ground, making it hard for Florida residents to remove from their landscape.
Maintaining the proper height of your lawn helps the landscape flourish while diminishing the possibility of the nutsedge plant gaining dominance of your yard.
The pennywort, also known as dollarweed, is a perennial plant best seen growing in warmer climates, making it a common Florida lawn weed.
Leaves are bright green and round, or kidney-like, in shape. Pennywort can be eaten, usually put in salads or used as a medicinal herb. There are several different species of pennywort, one of which grows in or around bodies of water.
The pennywort can be a difficult weed to get rid of as it spreads by seed and by its underground stems which form dense mats. These mats then begin to spread and can even grow in water.
Common throughout Florida, water pennywort has green-circular leaves attached on long stalks, similar to umbrellas in appearance.
Quackgrass (Elymus repens)
Quackgrass is a perennial weed that goes by many other names, including couch grass, twitch, quick grass, dog grass, quitch grass, witch grass, and scutch grass.
It is most commonly confused with crabgrass, even though it is much harder to get rid of than crabgrass. Quackgrass has flat hairy leaves, thick blades, and can grow to upwards of 4 feet if left untouched.
Mowing your lawn regularly, over seeding any bare patches with desired grass, and fertilizing can help to control quackgrass from invading your yard. The healthier your grass, the better chance you have to eliminate the weed from your landscape.
Spotted Spurge (Euphorbia maculate)
The spotted spurge, also known as prostrate spurge, is an annual plant and a fast-growing common lawn weed that grows in the United States.
What makes the spotted spurge so common to Florida is the fact that it flourishes in locations with an abundance of sun and different types of soil. The weed is most invasive in weak areas of the lawn, spreading, at times, several thousands of seeds.
Maintaining regular lawn care is essential to keeping the spotted spurge from destroying your grass.
The spotted spurge is low to the ground with small oval leaves spread out in rows along lengthy stems. The leaves contain a dark purple blemish at the center. Spotted spurge can be removed by hand. Keep in mind that the weed can break off at the stem, and has the ability to grow back, so make sure you remove all of the plant.
Yellow Woodsorrel (Oxalis stricta)
Yellow woodsorrel, also known as the common yellow oxalis, upright yellow-sorrel, and the lemon clover, is a weed that grows both as an annual and perennial.
Commonly found in meadows and wooded areas, the yellow woodsorrel is best identified by three heart-shaped leaves, resembling a clover, with stems that stretch low to the ground and can reach up to twenty inches in length.
The yellow woodsorrel prefers warmer climates making it a common lawn weed in Florida. It can be a very difficult weed to control, so making sure you dig out the weed at the root as soon as you see it will help keep the yellow woodsorrel from spreading.
Maintaining thick, healthy grass is the best way to prevent a yellow woodsorrel invasion because the weed loves fertile soil.
Getting Rid of Invasive Florida Weeds
Most of these species of weeds in Florida can easily be removed by deep digging to cut out the roots as well as the plant before they have a chance to spread their seeds.
Mowing your lawn to proper heights and watering your grass routinely are other ways you can keep weeds from becoming a nuisance during the summer months.
If you’re still having issues with weeds invading your lawn in Florida, contact us today and let our Lawn Care Services team take care of you.