Spring Weeds: How to Identify Weeds in Spring

When weeds invade your lawn, it often feels like you can’t get rid of them fast enough. They germinate quickly, which forces the homeowner to act fast. It is vital to get rid of pesky weeds before they spread their seeds and prevent them from taking root in the lawn soil.

Spring is one of the best times for weed prevention and control. Lawn Doctor is a professional lawn care company with the technical team and equipment to help lawn owners control spring weeds and prevent them from invading their lawns. We also guide customers on what to do if weeds take root in their lawns.

The Different Types of Weeds

Weeds can be classified in many ways. Two of the most common are gross morphological features and lifecycle. Weeds classified by their gross morphological features are broken into three categories: broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds. On the other hand, weeds classified by their lifecycle are categorized into annual, biennial and perennial weeds.

In this section, we focus on their gross morphological features.

Broadleaf Weeds

These types of weeds are identifiable by their wide leaves. They commonly feature prominent net-like veins with pronounced flowers once they reach maturity. Common broadleaf weed examples include dandelions, chickweed and clover.

Liquid broadleaf weed controls are typically the most effective and primarily post-emergent herbicides. This means they only kill weeds that are present in your lawn when applying the weed killers. They won’t prevent new weeds from sprouting.

We recommend homeowners completely remove the broadleaf weeds’ taproots or deep root systems to prevent them from growing back.

Grassy Weeds

Common grassy weed examples include crabgrass, dallisgrass and poa annua. Most grassy weeds are difficult to identify because they look similar. They also have thick, unsightly leaves with rounded stems and alternating leaf blades on each side.

We recommend using a pre-emergent herbicide to treat and control most grass weeds, as it prevents them from germinating.

Sedge Weeds

Sedge weeds are monocotyledons. They exhibit most characteristics of grasses but are not true grasses. Sedge weeds have more solid, triangular stems with no nodes. They also have a three-ranked leaf arrangement instead of the alternate arrangement in grass.

Examples of sedge weeds include green kyllinga and nutsedge.

The Most Common Spring Weeds

Every homeowner’s first step in controlling and preventing weed spread in the spring is knowing what type of weed they’re dealing with. Unfortunately, the spring season attracts some of the most troublesome weeds that are extremely difficult to control once they take root in the soil.

This segment provides an in-depth overview of the most common spring lawn weeds and ways of controlling and preventing them.


Dandelions are perennial weeds commonly identifiable by their rosette-shaped leaves, yellow flowers and deep taproots. The most effective way of controlling dandelions is understanding their lifecycle and removing the taproot.

Dandelion seeds can stay dormant in the lawn for years until they germinate in early spring under the perfect conditions. Their flowers bloom and produce seeds attached to pappuses that carry them in the wind and spread across the yard. These seeds can lay dormant in the soil until the next spring, starting the cycle again.

We recommend using the hand-pulling method for small infestations, ensuring you remove their deep taproot. Removing the entire taproot when the weed is still in its earliest stages is crucial, as it becomes more difficult to remove once the dandelions have matured.

A post-emergent herbicide is a more effective control method for large or severe dandelion infestations.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a common name in most parts of the United States. The plant contains a resin called urushiol that can cause contact dermatitis when it comes into contact with the skin. Its wide popularity makes it easy to spot and avoid by many homeowners. However, its infestation can be particularly concerning in areas with pets and children who can’t differentiate it from other innocuous plants.

Poison ivy doesn’t tolerate regular mowing and hardly thrives in maintained yards. But it can still grow along fence lines, wood piles and landscape beds. Its vines make it a notorious climber that can spread across the ground, making it even more difficult to control once it invades your lawn.


Crabgrass is another common annual weed that’s distinguishable by its stems that grow outward, resembling crab legs and thick leaves. Crabgrass produces thousands of seeds that can lay dormant in the soil for several months until early spring when they germinate. Its seeds prefer soil temperatures of about 55°F to germinate.

The weed goes through various leaf growth stages, starting with one leaf before going to seven tillers. We recommend applying pre-emergent as the best control method for crabgrass. Your primary objective is to prevent the weed from growing in the first place. Apply an effective crabgrass preventer in early spring before the weed germinates.

Ground Ivy

Ground ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie, is a perennial weed that grows low on the ground. When crushed, it produces a distinct color and is characterized by scalloped leaves and blue/purple flowers. Ground ivy is an aggressive weed that competes with other healthy lawn plants and grass as it creeps along the soil surface. It fights to establish roots at almost every point in which a leaf attaches to its stem.

Ground ivy requires selective post-emergent broadleaf weed control during its active growth. Because the weed grows at the edge of lawns and near shrubs and trees, it’s vital that the homeowner uses the right product to control and prevent its spread.

It’s important to note that controlling ground ivy requires ongoing effort to keep it under control. If the infestation is very thick, the weed could even require treatment over several years until it’s at a minimal, more tolerable level.


Nutsedge is another common perennial weed that prevails in spring and early summer. Some homeowners can mistake its leaves for grass at first because they look somewhat similar. The main difference between nutsedge and grass is that nutsedge has a very thick stem shaped like a V.

Nutsedge comes in two types: yellow and purple. Both types of nutsedge pop up when there’s an overall excess of water in the lawn, often because of drainage or soil compaction problems. The yellow nutsedge has brown flowers, while the purple nutsedge has reddish flowers.

This perennial weed has a fast growth rate and grows upright. Its height can disrupt the uniformity of the yard, as it’s characterized by tall, flowering plants in between mowed grass. If left untreated, nutsedge will slowly start choking the surrounding grass, devastating the lawn.

How to Prevent Weed Growth During Spring

The best way to prevent spring weeds from becoming a recurring problem is to be more proactive in controlling and preventing them when possible.

At Lawn Doctor, we provide our customers with easier, more effective ways to control and prevent weeds from invading lawns and maintain a healthy lawn year-round. Our professional landscape experts work with you to check the type of weed, the extent of the weed spread, and the most effective control and preventative methods to eradicate pesky weeds and prevent future attacks on your lawn.

Here are some effective ways to prevent weed growth on your lawn during spring.

Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicide

Applying a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn in early spring is one of the most effective ways of controlling grassy weeds before they germinate and become more challenging to eradicate. It is also worth mentioning that you shouldn’t apply pre-emergent if you’re planning to seed.

If applying pre-emergent in spring, you may need to wait until fall to seed. On the other hand, you can seed early in spring and then apply the pre-emergent after moving the new grass twice.

Water the Lawn Deeply and Infrequently

Giving the lawn deep, infrequent watering encourages a deep rooting system, allowing the grass to grow tall and healthy, which can crowd out the weeds. Watering the lawn regularly is also a vital part of lawn maintenance.

Maintain a Balanced Soil pH

Maintaining a balanced soil pH of 6.2 to 7.0 allows grass to access the necessary nutrients that would otherwise encourage future weed infestations. Some weeds prefer slightly more acidic or alkaline soil, making it even more important to amend the soil pH to make it inhospitable for weeds.

Raise the Mower Height

Raising the mower height to 3 or 4 inches can also discourage lawn weed infestation. Mowing high encourages healthy grass to grow thicker, crowding out undesirable weeds. Taller grass also shades the soil, making it difficult for weed seeds to get enough sunlight and oxygen.

When choosing weed control, ensure you choose one that’s formulated to kill the specific weed type in your lawn. To avoid further damage, carefully read the product labels and instructions before applying any chemicals or products to your lawn.

At Lawn Doctor, we recommend using effective weed killers and preventers at the right time and amount for the best results. We help our clients kill unwanted weeds and prevent them from invading the lawn in the future. Contact our lawn care providers for more information on spring weeds and the best control and prevention methods.