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Weed Database

Identification and Control of Weeds

The presence of weeds in a lawn is usually seen as a negative.  In rough grass and meadows nothing is a ‘weed’, but taking the definition of a weed as a ‘plant growing where it is not wanted’, anything growing in your lawn but the grasses you sowed can be considered a weed.

Gardeners’ attitudes to weed vary. Some are quite accepting of clover or daisies in their lawns while others crave the perfect stretch of uniform green – to each his own.

In these pages we will help you identify the plants you find growing in lawns and suggest ways of controlling them, should you wish to.

We have chosen to use drawings rather than photographs as it is actually easier to identify plants from drawings because the artist emphasises the important features that will help you put names to these plants.  Some of these drawings are also works of art in their own right.

Rather than give long botanical descriptions using the arcane language of botany we have pointed to the important features that along with the drawing should make identification easy.

Once identified you can assess the risk and see what kind of control is available. Some weeds succumb easily, other do not.

By browsing the thumbnails images and clicking to see a larger picture you should be able to name most of the plants you will encounter in UK lawns. The images are divided into two groups.

  • Weeds that form clumps or rosettes of leaves and are rather upright.
  • Weeds that spread by stems and form low mats among the grass.

When using chemical controls be sure to follow the manufactures’ recommendations, especially regarding the rate of coverage.  ‘A little more for good luck’ may cause serious damage to the grasses you are trying to improve. Avoid spraying or spreading feed & weed onto flower beds as that too may cause damage to plants you treasure.   Protect yourself and your family by following the safety directions.

When it is suggested that more than one application may be necessary, you should wait until you see clear re-growth of the weed before making a second application.  Sometimes that may be the next spring.  Control will be more effective if the weeds are growing, so spring and early summer usually give better results than autumn or winter applications.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Clump Forming and Upright Weeds

Cirsium arvense

Creeping Thistle 

Crepis capillaris

Smooth Hawk’s-beard

Equisetum arvense


Geranium molle


Glechoma hederacea

Ground Ivy

Hypochaeris radicata

Cat’s Ear

Pilosella officinarum

Mouse-ear Hawkweed,

Plantago lanceolata

Ribwort Plantain

Plantago major

Greater Plantain

Ranunculus acris

Tall Buttercup

Rumex crispus

Curled Dock

Rumex obtusifolius

Broad-leaved Dock

Scorzoneroides autumnalis


Sonchus arvensis

Perennial sow-thistle

Taraxacum officinale


Creeping and low-growing Weeds

Achillea millefolium


Alchemilla arvensis

Parsley Piert

Bellis perennis

Common Daisy

Cerastium fontanum

Mouse-eared Chickweed 

Lotus corniculatus

Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Medicago lupulina

Black Medick

Polygonum aviculare


Potentilla anserina


Prunella vulgaris


Ranunculus ficaria

Lesser Celandine 

Ranunculus repens

Creeping Buttercup 

Rumex acetosella

Sheep Sorrel 

Sagina procumbens


Soleirolia soleirolii 

Baby’s Tears

Stellaria media.


Trifolium dubium

Lesser Trefoil

Trifolium pratense.

Red Clover

Trifolium repens

White Clover 

Veronica hederacefolia

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

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