How to identify broadleaf weeds

Updated April 17, 2017

Weeds are a nuisance in your lawn and flowerbeds. The most effective way to eradicate them is to identify them before they spread and choke out desired grasses and garden plantings. Many broadleaved weeds, once established, require complete removal of the plant and deep taproot systems to control their spread. Some common characteristics will help identify broadleaved weeds in your landscape. By identifying the types of weeds present, you can find the appropriate methods for eliminating them.

Look at the stem. Unlike grassy weeds that generally resemble blades, broadleaved weeds have a stem. This stem may stand erect, lay prostrate and grow along the ground, or be vinelike, attaching to other plantings in its path.

Examine the placement of the leaves on the stem, and their size and shape. Leaves may be opposite each other, or alternate in arrangement along the stem. Broadleaved weeds have wide, flat leaves that create a rosette form. On young seedlings, the first set of seed leaves differs in appearance from the true leaves produced as the plant grows and matures. True leaves are wider and longer than the first set of leaves.

Look at the individual leaves. Many have a leaf stalk coming off of the stem. True leaves are either simple and contain one leaflet, or compound with more than one leaflet. The leaves usually have toothed, scalloped or serrated edges, and may have a rough texture or be hairy. Leaves generally have veins that resemble nets.

Check the weed's placement in the landscape. Areas of turf that are weak and thin are most vulnerable to broadleaved weeds. Broadleaved weeds don't establish easily in thick, lush areas of grass.


Check early in the season to identify broadleaved weeds so they can be controlled and removed easily before they spread.

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About the Author

Erika Marie started writing in 1996 and has covered a variety of topics, including arts, crafts, and home and garden. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in art from Rowan University.