For many New Englanders, gardening can rapidly change from a relaxing experience to a frustrating chore.
After planting lovely flowers and bushes, your neat arrangements can become surrounded by pesky garden weeds— in a matter of days!
Before you can keep the weeds away, it helps to know what exactly you’re up against. That’s why we put together a list of some of our region’s most common garden weeds, to help you identify which weeds are overtaking your garden.
Here are six of the biggest culprits for Massachusetts homeowners:
Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) is in the amaranth family, with other leafy greens found in salads, like chard and spinach. Fun fact: it’s edible, and tastes a lot like spinach!
The leaves of this garden weed often resemble its genus name’s Greek origin, “goose foot,” in that they’re wide at the base and point out like the bird’s webbed feet. The tips jut out like teeth, in a triangular shape and can have a slight bluish tint.
You can easily identify Lambsquarters by its dusty white coating beneath new leaves, but in some varieties, it’s magenta-colored instead. Tiny yellow flowers can bloom towards the tip of the plant over the summer and early fall. Discover tips for weed control here.
2. Giant Foxtail
Foxtail weeds are easy to identify, by their fuzzy spikes of “flowers,” or bottlebrush seed stems. Setaria faberi’s furry caterpillar-like heads spread seeds in the breeze. Worse off, foxtail roots cause even more trouble: exuding a chemical that acts as an herbicide, weakening or killing nearby plants.
This common weed is known for forming colonies and adapts to many different kinds of soil and drought, which is why come late spring or early summer— they’re everywhere! Pre-emergent weed control often does the trick keeping these garden weeds away. Learn more about getting rid of Foxtail here.
Carpetweed is such a nuisance because it spreads out, well, like a carpet! Its smooth leaves connect with long horizontal stems, hugging the ground to form a mat of green. It’s important to spot these weeds in the garden before they start to spread, or else they can completely cover your mulch or line your beds, in just a few days.
This common weeds is known for tiny pops of white flowers, which bloom mid-to-late summer. But the flora is so small, it hardly detracts from the plant itself— and it still clearly resembles a weed. Here are some tips for getting rid of Carpetweed from Gardening Know How.
4. Shepherd's Purse
Shepherd’s Purse is a member of the broad-leaf mustard weed family— and is one of the most common weeds in the world. In fact, Capsella bursa-pastoris got its common name of “Shepherd’s Purse” in Europe and Asia Minor, where it first originated, because of the way the shape of its heart-shaped seed pods resembled the little leather pouches carried by local shepherds.
This weed is often confused with the Broadleaf Plantain because of its leaf shape, however, the biggest difference is Shepherd’s flowering. In late winter or early spring, flower stalks can shoot up from this garden weed, producing tiny white flowers, often with pale pink hues.
The stalks and flowers are so small, however, and the weed so commonly spreads in random patches, that the floral doesn’t blend in well with some gardens— and is best removed. Here’s how to do it.
Some homeowners make the mistake of believing crabgrass only grows amongst other grass, but this pesky weed’s seeds blow into mulch beds often. Because crabgrass is so aggressive, it can spread easily to any part of your landscape.
This common garden weed grows quickly in both hot and dry conditions and isn’t too hard to spot and treat. Check out our article all about identifying and treating crabgrass.
6. Any “Lawn” Weeds!
Crabgrass isn’t the only lawn weed that can spread into your garden. Many turf invaders find themselves creeping into your mulch beds too, carried by winds, animals or surviving in your compost.
Read our other post, The Most Common Northeastern Lawn Weeds & How to Combat Them, to identify others and get advice on treating them, like a professional.
Keep Garden Weeds Away!
Weeds can spread like wildfire here in Massachusetts, with our generous rainfall and moderate temperatures.
The key to preventing common weeds from consuming your garden is treating your beds early, with preventative formulas. Our team can treat both your turf and garden areas, to ward off weeds, grubs and even pesky insects. We even offer organic or safe options for your vegetable gardens!
Healthy plantlife naturally grows big and strong, pushing out puny weeds. Composting can certainly help, but a proper fertilization can really do wonders.
Download our free Fertilization ebook to learn how to nourish your garden beds yourself, so they have the strength to naturally combat weed overgrowth.