Even the best-maintained lawns may sprout some Maryland yard weeds every once in a while. These pesky plants take root after their seeds travel through the wind and germinate in your soil. Since they multiply quickly, you’ll need to take action before they become a problem.
You may hand pull them or try to use herbicides yourself, but you’ll have to know what you’re doing or you might miss a few. Hiring a professional weed control company will ensure that your lawn looks as beautiful as you want it to be. Explore this guide for the most common weeds in Maryland to find out how they end up on your lawn and how to get rid of them.
Why Do Weeds Appear in Lawns?
Weeds can grow anywhere there’s room among your grass. Their seeds float in the wind and land in your yard, and they can be dormant for years before germinating. The following conditions create the ideal environment for weed seeds to grow and flourish on your lawn, depending on the type of weed:
- Warmer temperatures
- Thin or bare spots in the turf
- Mowing your lawn improperly
- Over- or underwatering your lawn
- Improper fertilization methods
- Poor soil conditions
Common Broadleaf Weeds in Maryland
A broadleaf weed has wide leaves with a central vein that leads to smaller ones that branch out from it. Use these broadleaf weed identification tips to find out what kind you have in your yard.
You may find any of the four types of chickweed in your yard: common chickweed, mouse-ear chickweed, field chickweed and sticky chickweed.
- Common chickweed has smooth leaves and stems. It thrives in wet climates and forms dense patches in vegetable gardens, turf and landscape.
- Mouse-ear chickweed has hairy leaves and stems that root at the nodes.
- Field chickweed has leaves and stems with shorter hairs than mouse-ear chickweed.
- Sticky chickweed has sticky hairs on its leaves and stems.
Chickweeds spread their seeds in the spring, which germinate in the fall. These seeds can lay dormant in your lawn for nearly a decade. They thrive in weak yards that have thin spots. Even though chickweeds prefer poorly drained sites, they can flourish in almost any soil condition.
You’d recognize deadnettle weeds on your property by their light purple flowers, square stems and pointed leaves that overlap near the top. The leaves may also have a purple tint. It has a fibrous root system that develops underground. Deadnettle weeds spread seeds in the spring, which germinate in the early fall or early spring. These seeds tend to grow in grass after you mow it too short.
A henbit weed is short with square stems, scalloped leaves and pink or purple flowers that you’d notice in the spring. The lower leaves have a slender stalk that joins them together, and the upper leaves go around the stem. It has a fibrous root system that forms underground. Henbit seeds grow in the early spring or fall, and they thrive in too-short grass and lawns with improper fertilization.
Shepherd’s purse has triangular, flat seedpods with a seam along the middle, like a purse. It grows upright and develops a set of dandelion-like leaves at the base. Un-mowed areas in your lawn can encourage this weed to grow tall. Shepherd’s purse disperses its seed throughout the yard, and it grows in early spring, early summer or late summer.
Hairy bittercress has a set of pinnate leaves at the base and several leaflet pairs around it. You’ll also notice small white flowers with four petals each on top of the stems. Hairy bittercress spreads its seed through the upright, slender capsules on top of the stem, which explode when they’ve reached full maturity. These seeds thrive in shady areas and lawns that are mown too short.
Black medic first develops many round yellow flowers in groups that look like clovers. These flowers produce black seedpods that remain on straight stems that range in color from dark brown to black. This annual summer legume has tooth stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. Instead of a fibrous root system, the black medic weed has a shallow taproot with small nodules. Their seeds grow best in dry climates and soil with little nutrients.
Knotweed is a low-growing weed with wiry stems that look like a mat. Its leaves alternate along the stem, and they look different based on their maturity at the time. Younger leaves are dark green, slender and long, while older leaves are small and a duller shade of green. Knotweed grows an inconspicuous set of yellow or white flowers where the leaves meet. You’ll notice this weed any time from midsummer through the fall. Its seeds grow in compacted soil that experiences heavy traffic.
Dandelion is one of the most common spring weeds in Maryland. You’d recognize it by its yellow flowers and tooth-like leaves around the top of its hollow stem. The yellow flowers turn into white puffballs as they mature. It has a deep, long taproot, and the branch emits a milky sap when broken. The dandelion disperses its seeds through the wind, and it can grow throughout the whole year in a suitable climate. Dandelions tend to favor too-short lawns.
Ground ivy produces a distinct odor when crushed. You’d recognize it by its funnel-shaped purple flowers, rounded, scalloped leaves and squared stems. This weed multiplies by seeds and above-ground runners called stolons that root at the nodes. It prefers damp, shady areas on your lawn, but it can also tolerate direct sunlight.
Indian Mock Strawberry
Indian mock strawberry is a short, trailing weed with round trifoliate leaves. As it grows, it produces yellow flowers with five petals, and then it develops a strawberry-like fruit in the middle. Even though it can spread through seed, it usually reproduces when the above-ground runners take root and create a new chain of plants. Indian mock strawberry favors moisture, close mowing and shady spots on the lawn.
Clover is a low-growing perennial weed that roots at the nodes and goes dormant in the winter. Its trifoliate leaves feature pale triangular marks, and it produces groups of pink or white pea-like flowers. Clovers spread through seed and creeping stolons, and they thrive in inadequately maintained garden areas.
Broadleaf plantain has a short, winged leaf stalk and upright, thick flower spikes. Its spikes disperse tiny angular seeds that range in color from orange to black, often taking on various shades of brown. These seeds usually attach to animals and people walking by so they can travel to another location. The broadleaf plantain weed thrives in compacted and dry soil or improper or infrequent fertilizer treatments.
Broadleaf and Curly Dock
Broadleaf and curly dock grows from seed and produces a sizeable yellowish taproot system. It creates a set of leaves at the base, and it can grow very tall. As the flowering stalks grow, they turn rusty brown, but they persist through the cold winter months. The seeds can be dormant on your lawn for nearly a century before producing a plant. Broadleaf and curly dock prefers nutrient-rich, damp soil, but it can also adapt to dry, poor soil.
You may find two types of oxalis on your lawn — yellow woodsorrel and creeping woodsorrel.
> Yellow woodsorrel produces yellow flowers on long stalks from May through September. Its upright, branching stems are usually green to purple, and its clover-like leaves have three heart-shaped leaflets. It produces seeds in vertical capsules that disperse them explosively to a far distance when ripe. It has a shallow, fibrous root system underground.
> Creeping woodsorrel is flatter than its yellow counterpart, and its roots usually form at the nodes. You’ll most likely see them with purple-tinted leaves.
These weeds thrive in fertile, moist soils, but they can also grow in other conditions.
Wild Garlic and Wild Onion
Wild garlic and wild onion have thin, grass-like leaves. Wild garlic leaves are hollow and round, while wild onions have ones that are solid and flat. These weeds produce grounds of underground bulbs as they spread. Mowing the lawn too short and inadequately fertilizing it promotes wild garlic and wild onion growth.
Common Grassy Weeds in Maryland
Grass weeds in Maryland might be tricky to find because they like the grass that’s supposed to grow on your lawn. Follow these grassy weed identification tips to find out what kind you might have in your yard.
Annual bluegrass is a short weed that grows in the winter and usually dies out in the summer. As it grows, it bunches together and produces white tips on the stem. It reproduces by seed and spreads through spreading lateral shoots at its base. Annual bluegrass thrives in cool climates, moist and compacted soil, close mowing and high nitrogen levels. To prevent annual bluegrass from growing on your property, avoid overwatering and applying too much fertilizer with nitrogen.
Crabgrass is a tall annual summer grass weed with narrow, pointed leaves at the base and a prominent midvein. Its short, purplish-green stems hold up its spiky, fringy flower heads. This stubborn weed spreads by seed and low stem pieces that take root throughout your lawn. Its germination period is usually from spring through the late summer. Mowing the lawn too short and letting thin, bare turf areas develop could encourage crabgrass growth.
Goosegrass is a long, flat annual summer grass weed. This light green grass with white at the base looks flattened or slightly folded. You’ll notice their spikes in the middle of the summer. Unlike crabgrass, the stems don’t root at the nodes. Goosegrass spreads through seeds and thrives on lawns with compacted soil or grass mown too short.
Japanese stiltgrass is an invasive annual summer weed with silver hairs in the middle of its short blades. It can grow tall and has a shallow root system. It roots at the nodes in the fall and develops seeds that can lay dormant underground for many years. The tiny, sticky seeds grow in late winter or early spring and can attach to animals, shoes, clothes and even water to travel far distances. Japanese stiltgrass favors low mowing and thrives in disturbed soils in direct sunlight or shady areas.
Bermudagrass is a long, warm-season grass weed with dense clusters of dark green blades. It usually turns brown before going dormant in the winter. Its strong above-ground runners spread this weed vigorously throughout the yard, and it favors warm climates and lawns with low-mown grass. Bermudagrass cannot survive in colder temperatures.
Dallisgrass is a coarse type of grass weed that develops spreading, circling clumps. It has yellow-green leaf blades with a white vein down the middle. Even when the center dies out, the outer rings continue to take over the lawn. It spreads through seed and favors moist areas with inadequate drainage systems. Dallisgrass also thrives in warm climates with high temperatures.
Nimblewill is a long, warm-season grass weed with a spreading growth habit. You’ll notice its pale-green blades in the late spring. In the fall, it turns brown and forms straw-like, circular dead patches as it becomes dormant. It reproduces through seeds or underground runners. Even though it favors shady areas with infertile soil, it’ll adapt to spots on the lawn in direct sunlight.
Orchardgrass is a very long, cool-season weed that grows in clumps. You’d recognize it on your lawn because it usually grows faster and a lighter shade of blue-green than turf. It reproduces by seed that typically comes into the yard through contaminated straw mulch or grass seed. Orchardgrass favors dry soils of various textures.
Quackgrass is a very long, cool-season weed that has a creeping growth habit. Its blue-green leaf blades have a rough texture, and the seed head that forms in the summer looks like wheat. It spreads through its sharp-tipped creeping rhizomes, and it tends to grow in lawns that lack the proper maintenance.
Yellow nutsedge develops dense colonies on a lawn. You’d recognize it by its grass-like, V-shaped leaves, upright hairless stems and golden-brown flower spikes. It usually spreads through underground tubers called nutlets, but it can also reproduce through rhizomes and seeds. Since yellow nutsedge favors wet areas with poor drainage, you can prevent this grass weed from infesting your lawn by improving drainage and getting rid of standing water.
Kyllinga produces multiple rhizomes, and its roots transport new leaves at each stem node. Its narrow, grass-like leaves spread into dense mats. As a prolific seeder, it can be an invasive weed in the right conditions. Even though it favors moist, sunny areas, you may also see it growing in dry, shady spots and lawns cut too short.
Tips for Maryland Weed Identification and Management
Identifying the weeds on your lawn in Maryland is the first step to figuring out how to treat them. Weeds each have different treatment techniques because of their unique ability to adapt to various soil, moisture and weather conditions. Even though you should take some precautions to manage the weeds on your property, a weed control professional knows how to deal with them correctly so that they’ll be gone for good.
Follow these tips for managing the weeds on your lawn:
Maintain Your Property
A thick, healthy lawn discourages weed growth. Make a habit of overseeding, fertilizing and mowing your yard so your grass can thrive. You may also want to fix the drainage systems and adjust your soil’s acidity so you can create an environment that favors turfgrass growth.
Manually Remove Weeds
You can use a small shovel or your hand to pull the weeds out of your lawn, especially when your soil is moist.
Use Herbicides Sparingly
Chemical treatments should be a last resort for weeds that threaten to spread throughout your whole property. Herbicides can affect your grass and any surrounding plants. Follow the instructions on the product’s label before applying it to your yard. You may want to consult a professional instead of handling harmful herbicides on your own, especially if the weeds on your lawn have become unruly.
Contact OrganicLawns to Get Rid of Maryland Weeds
OrganicLawns is an experienced lawn maintenance company that’s local to the Baltimore area. Since we’ve served homeowners in this state for several decades, we’re familiar with the lawn weeds in Maryland and how to prevent them from taking over your property.
We also offer eco-friendly treatments to give you peace of mind about your yard’s health and safety. We also offer products and methods that are even safe to use around pets. Get a free estimate online or call us at 410-536-5800 to remove the pesky weeds from your lawn.