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What are Broadleaf Weeds?

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What are Broadleaf Weeds?

Broadleaf weeds are an invasive species that tends to show up uninvited in lawns or yards. Similar to most weeds, they grow at an exponential rate and are difficult to eliminate once established. Some variations are more aggressive than others and are more of a challenge to handle than others. 

Unlike grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds are relatively easy to spot because of their appearance. Grassy weeds blend in very well with grass, whereas broadleaf weeds stick out. Still, broadleaf weeds differ amongst each other in a variety of ways and come in many different shapes and sizes. 

One commonality they all have is wide leaves, which is suggested by the name. These leaves often have a prominent vein in the middle. Along with growing in clusters, broadleaf weeds may also grow alongside a flower. While they may look visually appealing, these weeds can outcompete the grass in your lawn. 

Since weeds fight for sunlight, water, and nutrients, they have the ability to weaken your grass. Vulnerable grass is more susceptible to disease and damage that could be hard to reverse. For these reasons, it is crucial to be able to distinguish weeds from one another. Some may require different kinds of treatment based on their growth patterns and the depth of their roots. 

If you would like to learn more about weeds and how to treat them, make sure to read this article: How to Weed a Lawn

All weeds fall in one of the three categories – annual, perennial, or biennial. Annual weeds grow for a year and leave seeds before dying. These are the easiest to control in the beginning stages. Perennial weeds are the most difficult to manage because they will continue to grow back year after year. Biennials grow within two years and are common in pastures. 

Although most broadleaf weeds are annuals, they are variations in all three categories. Here are a few examples of broadleaf weeds and what characteristics they have. 

Carpetweed

Broadleaf carpetweed - What are broadleaf weeds

Carpetweeds are an annual weed that primarily grows in the summer months. It has a short taproot and spreads rapidly in the heat. After the leaves are established, a small white flower is produced. They grow best in dry or sandy lawns, but also tends to grow in walkways. While it can grow up to five inches tall, it is a low growing weed. 

Wild Violet 

Wild violet

Similar to carpetweeds, wild violets are low growing and are accompanied by a flower. They have heart-shaped leaves and can grow up to 6 inches tall. However, this weed is perennial and has a dense root system. It is often found in moist and shady areas but can also grow in dry lawns that receive a lot of sunlight. 

To some, wild violets are a lovely addition to gardens. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but they are also edible and can be used as medicine. But their aggressive nature can make them a bothersome guest. Since it spreads underground, it is difficult to control. 

Bull Thistle

Broadleaf bull thistle

Bull thistle is a biennial weed with leaves that grow alternate from each other. After the first year, a rosette forms, which is a dark shade of pink or purple. The second-year is when the stems are flowered. Much like wild violets, bull thistle can grow in a variety of environments. But, it thrives, especially in open, sunny areas like pastures.  

It may look intimidating, as it can grow anywhere between two and six feet tall. Despite this, it is one of the easier broadleaf weeds to manage. The only way of reproduction is through the spread of seeds, so the best way to control them is by preventing seeding from occurring. 

Common Chickweed

Common chickweed

The common chickweed is unique in that it is an annual winter broadleaf. Unlike most weeds that go dormant in the winter, this one germinates during the winter and fall. During this time, it will continue to produce seeds. Common chickweeds also have a shallow and fibrous root system and can grow up to 18 inches tall in the shade. 

Both the leaves and stems are a light green color. They grow opposite each other with a small white flower in the center. 

Dichondra 

Dichondra weed

Also referred to as Carolina ponysfoot, dichondra is a perennial broadleaf. This nickname comes from the shape of the leaves, which resemble hooves and grow alternate to each other. The weed itself is low growing and can grow up to three inches tall. 

Dichondra weeds thrive in thin and vulnerable lawns. They are also used in golf fields. Although it has invasive qualities, it is also frequently used as ground cover in landscaping. Ground cover protects topsoil from drought but may serve as a decorative plant as well. 

Conclusion 

Broadleaf weeds differ from one another in a variety of ways. It is generally seen as an invasive species, but they can also be ornamental plants when used as ground cover for gardens. They tend to be more visually appealing than grassy weeds, and that is why they are mistakenly left to grow. But as with all weeds, acting fast is necessary to get them under control. 

Knowing what kind of weed occupies your lawn will help you understand how they should be taken care of. The few types listed above offer a sneak peek into the extensive list of broadleaf weeds. If you want to take a deeper look into the different types, feel free to explore the following website: Center for Turfgrass Science.

Frequently Asked Questions: What are Broadleaf Weeds? 

What is the best method for getting rid of broadleaf weeds?

Since this is such a broad category, there is no single solution that will work for all broadleaf weeds. But there are some steps you can take to prevent weeds from invading your lawn. To learn more, check out this article: Lawn Maintenance. 

Are broadleaf weeds more aggressive than grassy weeds?

There are aggressive weeds in both categories. Similarly, there are weeds in each category that are easy to manage. Each type of weed has unique growth patterns, so it is difficult to say which is more aggressive. 

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