Broadleaf weed with smooth sticky seeds

Weed identification

Weeds are the unwanted plants that always seems to appear in our lawn when and where we don’t want them. Many weeds are acceptable grasses and are lawns themselves. While many of us are happy to just see green, addicts want their lawn consistent and pure with one or two species of grass. Read More

At Lawn Addicts, we specialise in weed identification and can help recommend the best herbicides and lawn care products for warm and cool season grass weeds.

There are many types of weeds. Easy control is either manual selection with hand removal or painting a general-purpose non-selective herbicide like a Glyphosate base product. Or we can use a selective herbicide to do the work for us, but the use of them involves knowledge. Firstly, of what weed you have, and secondly, but equally importantly, what lawn you have.

While one herbicide registered to work on a weed may be okay in one lawn, it may suppress, damage or even kill other lawns. Turf identification is an important aspect of weed treatment.

Weeds are identified into a few categories:

  • broadleaf weeds
  • grass weeds
  • sedges and bulbs.

Broadleaf weed identification

“Broadleaf” weeds vary a great deal and are a very large group, however they essentially all include a broad leaf. Lawn Addicts can supply a variety of broadleaf weed herbicides to suit different grass types.

Grass weed identification

Certain types of grass can act as weeds and take over your lawn. We can help with zoysia and buffalo grass weed identification and treating cool season grass weeds.

Sedges and bulbs

Sedges can be tough to control, but we can help you choose a selective herbicide based on different grass varieties.

Spurge

Commonly referred to Prostrate Spurge, Creeping Spurge and Spotted Spurge. It’s an aggressive prostrate or low growing weed, resembling a mat up to a meter in diameter when established. Has opposing leaves along the stems and runners, and often seen with a darker spot in the middle of each leaf. The runners and stems are soft, red to brown in colour, sappy with a milk appearance when cut. A very common weed found in bare or thin lawns, it’s resistant…

Purslane/Portulaca

Purslanes and Portulaca are a low growing 0 to 200mm high, a prostrate to decumbent often flowing succulent annual weed. Stems and runners are normally soft and pink to brown in colour. They are very common in a variety of soil types especially after having been recently disturbed. There are many varieties of this weed across Australia some native and introduced widely naturalised and a prolific seeder. Grows well in temperate to tropical regions. Seed mostly germinates around autumn, colonies…

Crested Goosefoot

Crested Goosefoot also know as Crested Crumbweed, is a lower growing prostrate or spreading weed, it can grow 30cm tall. Leaves leave are alternating along the reddish stems and when crush are quite aromatic. Stems are not woody and spreads quickly from the crown and one main thick tap root, from this numerous course roots grow laterally. Leaf sizes are normally small to 20mm long with the normal irregular goosefoot shape which can be hairy, sticky, flat with toothed or…

Richardia Brasiliensis (White Eye)

Richardia is an annual spreading prostrate weed, often growing to 50-60 cm across and 10 cm tall. This species of Richardia is quite common in Australia it has a thick white central tap root usually contorted from the crown of the plant. The crown is made up of green prostate stems, many branched with very small white hairs. Leaves occur in opposing pairs and are connected to the stem with a ridge of numerous broad irregular bristles. The leaf has…

Nutgrass (Cyperus Rotundus)

Nutgrass is a perennial rapidly spreading grass-like sedge with flat, tapered and corrugated foliage. The stem is triangular in cross-section, a feature which is unique to sedges. The name nutgrass comes from the nut-like tubers found on rhizomes under the surface. These “nuts” serve as energy storage for the weed which are the reason the weed is difficult to control. The weed seeds from summer through to autumn, with yellow-brown seeds arranged in narrow spikes. Nutgrass propagates from both seed…

Mullumbimby Couch (Cyperus Brevifolius)

Mullumbimby couch is a perennial grass-like sedge up to 15 cm high with dark green, glossy, strap-like leaves. It has tough, long rhizomes that are red to purple in colour and triangular stems in cross-section which is characteristic of sedges. This sedge is in mostly observed in flower through spring and summer and presents as a single round, compact spike with three short, curved leaves protruding from the base of the seed head. Mullumbimby couch grows best in areas of…

Onion Grass or Guildford Grass (Romulea Rosea)

Onion Grass is a perennial grassy weed with between three and 10 thin, strappy leaves rising from the central base up to 30 cm long. The leaves are up to 2 mm wide with a prominent central midrib that protrudes to create an almost cylindrical leaf blade in cross section in a spear and quite a tough point. Flowering in spring, the onion grass plant produces two to four small flowers per plant that are positioned around the base of…

Ryegrass

Ryegrass is a cool season perennial or annual grass with tufted or clustered growth and perennial strains have a glossy dark green leaves while annual strains can be brighter green which both are often purplish at the base. Ryegrass possesses a thin ligule with a folded leaf along its vein and overlapping or clasping auricles. The seed heads appear in spring and early summer as a long, narrow spike with a long cluster of small dark seeds at the top.…

Poa / Wintergrass (Poa Annua)

Poa is a grassy winter annual with perennial and biennial variations. Poa is light green in colour with a tufted or clustered growth habit and a white panicle (flower branch) inflorescence germinating from late winter throughout spring and summer, if conditions permit. Leaf blades are folded along its vein with a “long boat” shaped leaf tips that curl up at the ends. Poa is a very adaptive weed that can thrive in shaded areas and full sun depending on moisture…

Summer Grass (Digitaria Sanguinalis)

Summer grass is common in Australia’s lawns. It is a very fast-growing weed which sends out its shoots in all directions from its centre and spreads through stolons (above ground runners). Summer grass stems are either brown or red, with thin grey-green leaves and fine vertical seed heads that are spiky. A vigorous seeding plant, summer grass needs to be removed from lawns immediately. It’s like your lawn – lawn mowing has no impact on its control or growth, other…

Paspalum

Paspalum is a grassy weed with larger, broader, longer leaves. It grows in a cluster and is quite obvious to see in your turf. It comes in many varieties. Removing paspalum by hand involves digging the plant out of the ground, and the roots must also be removed. Selective herbicides are available to control this weed. These can usually be used on couch, bent grass, fescue and ryegrass lawns, but cannot be used on buffalo, kikuyu or saltene/bahia lawns. Always check…

Kikuyu (Pennisetum Clandestinum)

Kikuyu is very invasive of other grasses. Kikuyu is very fast growing, and its fine seed is easily dispersed by the wind blowing seeds from neighbouring lawns. Kikuyu growing in buffalo grass is a common problem. Both grasses are similar, making the kikuyu often unnoticeable in the buffalo, until it’s too late and much of the lawn in now kikuyu. Once kikuyu is detected, control is very manual in buffalo grass. Allow the lawn to grow and the kikuyu will…

Crowsfoot / Crabgrass (Eleusine Indica)

Crabgrass is nuisance value to lawns everywhere. It is both a prolific seeder and spreader, overtaking lawns as it continues to spread. Removal of this grass weed as soon as possible is important. The crabgrass suffocates your lawn then dies off in winter, leaving bare patches in your dormant lawns. Following spring the bare patch becomes a stronger weed from the previous seasons seeding and the problem continues to deteriorate. Crabgrass is listed as one of the 12 worst weeds…

Pearlwort (Sagina Procumbens)

Pearlwort is a dense, low-growing broadleaf weed with smooth, slender stems rooting at the nodes. Oppositely arranged, thin, grassy like leaves up to 14 mm long branch out from the stem at close intervals, not broadleaf in appearance. These heavily branched stems form a mat-like growth habit that forms thick ground cover. Small, inconspicuous flowers appear in spring, summer and autumn, with green sepals and tiny white petals. Flowers remain closed in buds and are visible only briefly as they…

Burr Medic (Medicago Polymorpha)

Burr medic is another of the trifoliate type lawn weeds, meaning its leaves are grouped together in bunches of three. With serrated green leaves, it has long reddish creeping stems, and small groups of pea sized often yellow flowers. It grows prickly burrs, which begin as small green pods and later dry out, becoming brown in colour. Similar trifoliate weeds are clover and oxalis, and these three broadleaf weeds can be easily confused for each other. If you’re not sure,…

Mallow (Malva Parviflora)

Mallow or marshmallow is native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa but has made itself at home in all Australian states. It grows in every soil type and is commonly seen in disturbed areas such as roadsides, cultivation, around buildings, stock yards, along watercourses and in rundown pastures. At Lawn Addicts, we provide recommended herbicides and lawn care programs to control mallow and other broadleaf weeds.

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Lambs Tongue/Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Lambs tongue, or plantain, is a perennial rosette forming monocot with long, narrow leaves ending in a tapered point. The leaf blades possess distinctive parallel veins and are often twisted or curled along the margins. The seed head is a dense spike produced on an erect, leafless stalk that rises up to 45 cm from the ground. Lambs tongue flowers from mid spring through summer and is a prolific seed producer with seeds carried by wind and water run-off. It…

Cudweed or Daisy (Gnaphalium Spp.)

Cudweed is an annual or biennial weed with a rosette forming growth habit. The leaves are broad and obovate (egg shape) in shape and possess a dull green upper surface with a soft, white or silver hairy underside. Growth begins as basal rosette forming stems with upward growth occurring as the plant matures. Cudweed flowers typically form from spring throughout summer and are purple to pink in colour. Depending on correct identification of turf, the team at Lawn Addicts recommends…

Oxalis (Oxalidaceae)

The Oxalis family of weed is one of the largest broadleaf weed families. Common varieties encountered are Soursob, Purple Oxalis, Wood Sorrel, Creeping Oxalis, and many more names. With more than 30 varieties in Australia, not all are weeds many are ornamental plants. Oxalis is often mistaken for clover. However, while they both can have a similar appearance with trifoliate sectioned leaves, oxalis is easily distinguishable by having heart-shaped leaves compared to the oval-shaped leaves of clover. Like clover, oxalis…

Clover (Trifolium Repens)

Clover is noticeable by its ball-like flowers, which can often be partially yellow or beige colouring. It has trifoliate green leaves and rapidly growing green stems which grow quickly to spread the weed very efficiently, often becoming large weeds. As well as propagating new plants, it will take control of a lawn in no time if left untreated. Clover is a nuisance when it invades lawns, as it is very noticeable. Clover is difficult to control as it easily grows…

Chickweed (Stellaria Media)

Chickweed is a common weed. With many varieties, ‘Common Chickweed’ is the most encountered. A small plant with shiny leaves with multiple stems, Chickweed produces a single white flower on each stem. Its invasiveness into healthy lawns is rare and it doesn’t like to compete. Chickweed prefers to germinate and grow barer patches of turf. Chickweed cannot recover from the loss of its foliage, so regular mowing of lawns ensure its eradication – which is another reason chickweed is rarely…

Catsear (Hypochoeris Radicata)

Catsear, also known as flatweed, is similar to dandelion but are different species. The two plants look similar, have similar features, and are also treated the same. The lifecycle of the Catsear and dandelion can be controlled by regular lawn mowing whenever its flowers or seed heads are apparent. By constant removal of its seeds, the weed misses its only means of reproducing. Hand weeding is also an easy and effective control. Both selective and spot application of non-selective herbicides can…

Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinalis)

Dandelion is perennial weed which often become a nuisance in turf. It is quite drought tolerant with a deep tap root able to withstand dry conditions beyond what the turf can handle. On maturing, the yellow flowers become the fluffy white balls we know as “fairies”. The cycle of the dandelion can be controlled by regular lawn mowing whenever its flowers or seed heads are apparent, similar to capeweed with constant removal of its seeds. Hand weeding is easy and…

Capeweed (Arctotheca Calendula)

Capeweed is an annual cool season broadleaf weed, low to the ground with light green leaves and distinctive large serrated outline, while the underside of the leaves is usually a textured, silvery-white colour. Germination usually commences in mid to late autumn, and the lifecycle continues until late spring or early summer when it sends out its single yellow flower with a black middle, before going to seed. The continuing lifecycle of Capeweed can be controlled by regular mowing and prevention…

Bindii (Soliva Sessilis)

Bindii is a low growing weed. It produces a single flower in the middle, and at maturity produces a prickly seed pod we all hate. Bindii can be easily treated and removed by common and easy methods. The continuing lifecycle of bindii weeds really can’t be controlled by regular lawn mowing. Mowing doesn’t control the lifecycle of the weed as seed heads and flowers are below almost all mowing heights. Hand weeding is an obvious and effective treatment for bindii,…

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Broadleaf Weeds

Most broadleaf weeds have netlike veins in their leaves and nodes containing one or more leaves. They may have showy flowers. Broadleaf weed seedlings emerge with two leaves. Because of differences in their leaf structure and growth habits, they are easy to distinguish from grasses.

A weed’s life cycle has great impact on the selection and success of a given control procedure, so it is important to learn the life cycle characteristics of a weed when you first learn its identity.

Annual weeds germinate from seeds, grow, flower, produce seeds and die in 12 months or less. Annual weeds are further categorized by the season in which they germinate and flourish. Winter annuals sprout in the fall, thrive during the winter and die in late spring or early summer. Summer or warm-season grasses, such as crabgrass and goosegrass sprout in the spring and thrive in summer and early fall.

Perennial weeds are weeds that live more than two years. They reproduce from vegetative (non-seed) parts such as tubers, bulbs, rhizomes (underground stems), or stolons (above ground stems), although some also produce seed. Perennial weeds are the most difficult to control because of their great reproductive potential and persistence.

Proper identification of weeds targeted for control is necessary in order to select effective control measures, whether cultural or chemical. Further assistance with weed identification is available from any Clemson Extension office or the Clemson Home and Garden Information Center.

Chickweed

Life Cycle & Description: Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is a winter annual broadleaf weed that commonly infests thin or dormant lawn areas. It germinates in the fall, grows during the winter and produces seed from spring to early summer, then dies.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) with small white flowers is a winter annual weed.
Karen Russ, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

You can identify common chickweed by its flat, mat-forming growth habit and small egg- to football-shaped leaves that are arranged in pairs. The stems have a single line of hairs running along their length. Small clusters of white, five-petaled flowers occur at the ends of stems in the spring. Common chickweed reproduces by seed and creeping stems.

Sticky chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum), or mouse-ear chickweed, is a mat-forming branched winter annual with fuzzy, opposite leaves that resemble mouse-ears, hence, the common name. The stems are also covered with dense hairs. The white flowers are arranged in clusters at the end of the stems. It is hairy, spreading or erect, and larger than common chickweed. The empty seed cases, which are almost transparent and have 10 teeth, are noticeable. Sticky chickweed reproduces by seed.

Perennial mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) looks like sticky chickweed, but it has creeping stems that often take root to produce new plants. It reproduces by seed and by producing new plants from ground-hugging stems that root at the nodes (the point of attachment of the leaves).

Control: Hand pulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds. Since this weed reproduces by seed, control it before seeds are produced. Pre-emergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass and ornamental plants grown. Optimum timing of post-emergence herbicides is mid-autumn. See Table 1 for pre- and post-emergence control products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label. See Table 2 for turfgrass tolerance to each herbicide.

Dandelion

Life Cycle & Description: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a deep-rooted, stemless perennial weed that is probably one of the most widely recognized weeds. It has a long taproot and a basal rosette (circular cluster of leaves radiating from the stem of a plant at ground level) of slightly to deeply cut leaves with lobes that point back towards the base. The rosette remains green year-round. Yellow flowers appear mainly in the spring on long, smooth, hollow stalks. A second bloom occurs in the fall. The leaves and flower stalks exude a milky juice when broken. The flowers give rise to a “puff” ball or globe of parachute-like brown seeds.

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Seedlings emerge from late spring to early fall, with most emerging in early summer, several weeks after the seeds are shed. Dandelion will grow in almost any soil type and is most commonly found in sunny areas. It reproduces by seed and from new plants that develop from pieces of broken taproots.

Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial broadleaf weed that spreads by wind-blown seeds.
Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Carolina falsedandelion (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus) is a winter annual or biennial with erect branching flowering stems. The leaves are alternate, sharply pointed with leaves that may be deeply lobed or lack lobes. The basal leaves are attached to the stem with petioles; leaves on the stem do not have petioles. In late spring, bright yellow flowers similar to dandelion occur on the ends of stems. The flowers give rise to a “puff” ball comprised of a cluster of brown seeds with a parachute attachment of a long stalk of hairs. It reproduces by seed.

Catsear dandelion (Hypochoeris radicata) is also a perennial weed that produces a basal rosette of leaves. Unlike dandelion, the leaves are densely hairy and have irregular to rounded lobes on the leaf margins. The flower stalk bears two to seven bright yellow flowers that look similar to dandelion. The leaves and flowers also excrete a milky juice when broken.

Control: Handpulling can be done with the aid of a tool that removes the entire taproot, especially when the soil is moist. Maintain a dense, healthy turf which crowds out weeds naturally and reduces the chances for invasion. Mulch ornamental bed areas with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to suppress weed seed germination and growth. Remove the flowers before they reach the “parachute stage” to eliminate seed production. There are many herbicides available depending on the kind of turfgrass in your lawn. Optimum timing of postemergence herbicide use is mid-fall. See Table 1 for pre- and post-emergence control products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Florida Betony

Life Cycle & Description: Florida betony (Stachys floridana) is a fast-spreading nuisance of lawns and landscaped beds. It grows in full sun to partial shade and tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions ranging from wet to dry. Florida betony is often called “rattlesnake weed” because it produces white, segmented tubers that resemble a rattlesnake’s tail.

Distinctively shaped Florida betony (Stachys floridana) tubers.
John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, www.forestryimages.org

This cool-season perennial weed emerges from seeds and tubers during the cool, moist months of fall. Throughout the winter months, the plants grow and spread rapidly, often reaching heights of less than 2 feet. Florida betony has square stems and lance-shaped leaves with slightly toothed or serrated edges arranged oppositely on the stems. From late spring to early summer the weeds bear white to pink trumpet-shaped flowers occurring in whorls of three to nine in the leaf axils (the upper angle formed where the leaf joins the stem). In response to the onset of high summer temperatures or cold winter temperatures, Florida betony growth stops and the plant becomes nearly dormant. Florida betony reproduces primarily from tubers but also from seeds and rhizomes.

Control: Maintain a healthy, dense lawn by fertilizing and liming according to soil test results and mowing at the proper height and frequency. Healthy lawn grasses can out-compete Florida betony for light, water and nutrients and reduce the level of infestation.

Suppress growth by applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch such as pine straw or pine bark around shrubs and trees. Using landscape fabric weed barriers beneath the mulch layer will further hinder its emergence. Pull or dig out all plant parts, especially the tubers, when the soil is moist. Hoe or cut the top growth down to soil level repeatedly to “starve” the plant.

Spot-treat with herbicides when Florida betony is actively growing during the cool fall months. Pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass and ornamental plants grown. See Table 1 for post-emergence control products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label. See Table 2 for turfgrass tolerance to each herbicide.

Japanese Clover

Life Cycle & Description: Japanese clover (Lespedeza striata) or common lespedeza is a wiry, ground-hugging summer annual that has oblong leaflets that occur in triplets, or threes. A noticeable midvein runs down the center of each leaflet. A parallel arrangement of veins is attached at 90-degree angles to the midvein. The pink to purple single flowers appear in mid- to late summer along the branching stems. Japanese clover reproduces by seed.

Control: Handpulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds.

Postemergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass in your lawn. Optimum timing of postemergence herbicide use is early summer. See Table 1 for post-emergence control products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label. See Table 2 for turfgrass tolerance to each herbicide.

Common lespedeza (Lespedeza striata) prostrate growth habit.
Photo courtesy of: Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, Bugwood.org

Plantain

Life Cycle & Description: Both buckhorn, or narrow-leaved plantain (Plantago lanceolata), and broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) are perennial weeds that reproduce by seeds. Both produce a rosette or cluster of leaves at ground level and have fibrous root systems. The leaves of buckhorn plantain are narrow and lance-shaped (2 to 10 inches long – about five times as long as wide), often twisted or curled. Raised, parallel veins can be found on the underside of the leaf.

As the name suggests, the leaves of broadleaf plantain are broad and egg-shaped – 1½- to 7-inches long – with several main veins running parallel to the leaf margins. The petioles are sometimes tinged with red at the base.

Both plantains produce erect flower stalks from June to September. Buckhorn plantain produces a cone-like spike of white flowers perched at the top of the leafless flower stalk. Broadleaf plantain produces white-petaled flowers along the length of a leafless flower stalk that may be 2- to 18-inches long. Seed germinates in late spring through midsummer and sporadically in early fall.

Buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a perennial broadleaf weed.
Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Control: Handpulling is a simple, practical approach for small areas. Improve the health and density of the lawn by fertilizing at the right time and with the correct amount; maintaining an appropriate soil pH; mowing at the recommended height; and watering properly. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to ornamental bed areas to suppress germinating weed seeds. Postemergence herbicides are available depending on the kind of turfgrass in your lawn. Optimum timing of post-emergence herbicides is mid-autumn. See Table 1 for pre- and post-emergence control products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label. See Table 2 for turfgrass tolerance to each herbicide.

Common Vetch

Life Cycle & Description: Common vetch (Vicia sativa) is a winter annual, broadleaf weed that reproduces by seeds that germinate in the fall or early winter. As with all weeds, vetch can quickly invade thin turf areas, especially in sunny areas or moderate shade where there is good soil moisture. It is normally upright and vining, but may have a prostrate growth habit. Vetch grows slowly during the winter, but more rapidly during any period of warm winter weather. It resumes rapid growth in spring and produces violet-purple flowers, which are followed by seedpods. Being a cool weather weed, the plants die as temperatures increase in late spring and early summer.

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) is a sprawling, vining weed.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Control: Keeping a thick and vigorous growing turf is the best way to reduce the encroachment of vetch. First, select a turfgrass cultivar adapted for your area and light conditions, and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth. For more information on growing healthy turfgrass, see HGIC 1201, Fertilizing Lawns; HGIC 1205, Mowing Lawns; and HGIC 1207, Watering Lawns. In landscape beds, vetch can be hand dug and suppressed with the use of mulch. A 3-inch mulch layer is ideal to reduce weed growth.

Cultural controls should be implemented before applying herbicides for vetch control. However, after taking steps to use the best lawn care techniques, chemical control may still be necessary to further reduce common vetch. Herbicides should be chosen according to turfgrass species and all label instructions followed. Chemical controls for common vetch should be applied in fall or early spring for best results. Keep in mind that herbicide effectiveness is reduced as weeds mature.

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Three-way herbicides are the most commonly used broadleaf weed killers on bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and tall fescue to control common vetch and almost any broadleaf weed in the lawn. The active ingredients of three-way herbicides include the following broadleaf weed killers: 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop (MCPP) or MCPA. A three-way herbicide will give good control of common vetch.

Atrazine may be used to control common vetch in centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass only. Atrazine is a post-emergence broadleaf weed killer that also controls several common grassy weeds and has some pre-emergence activity. Atrazine will give excellent control of vetch.

A recent herbicide combination of thiencarbazone, iodosulfuron, and dicamba, as found in Celsius WG Herbicide, is selective to control many broadleaf weeds and several grass weeds in all four of the common warm-season grasses, but it cannot be used in fescue lawns. Apply when common vetch is actively growing and again 2 to 4 weeks later if needed. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant, such as Southern Ag Surfactant for Herbicides, will increase control. Celsius WG Herbicide is safe to apply during spring green-up of warm season grasses. Celsius WG will give good control of vetch.

Metsulfuron can be used for common vetch control in bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass. Quali-Pro MSM Turf Herbicide is a product that contain metsulfuron, and Quali-Pro Fahrenheit contains dicamba along with metsulfuron, but these are packaged for landscape professionals. Metsulfuron will give excellent control of vetch.

Do not apply metsulfuron to lawn if over-seeded with annual ryegrass or over-seed for 8 weeks after application. Do not plant woody ornamentals in treated areas for one year after application of metsulfuron. Do not apply metsulfuron herbicides within two times the width of the drip line of desirable hardwood trees or if temperature is over 85 °F. For these professional products, a non-ionic surfactant (such as Southern Ag Surfactant for Herbicides) is required at 2 teaspoons per gallon of spray mix for best control. See Table 1 for herbicides and specific products. See Table 2 for turfgrass tolerance to each herbicide.

Landscape Bed Weed Control

Glyphosate: When herbicides are applied to beds intended for future planting of ornamentals, care must be taken as various herbicides may injure the plants to be installed. For planned beds, glyphosate has far less soil activity (a few days) as compared with the three-way herbicides or atrazine (a few weeks). Glyphosate is the safest choice for spray application in existing flower and shrub beds, so long as care is taken to prevent drift to non-target plants. Glyphosate applications are much less apt to move through the soil, be absorbed by roots, and injure existing woody ornamental shrubs.

Glyphosate can be used for spot treatments around ornamental plants in landscape beds. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that should be used with caution. Do not allow glyphosate spray mist to contact ornamental foliage or stems as severe injury will occur. A cardboard shield may be used to prevent glyphosate spray from drifting to nearby ornamentals. Examples of products containing glyphosate in homeowner sizes are:

  • Roundup Original Concentrate,
  • Roundup Pro Herbicide,
  • Martin’s Eraser Systemic Weed & Grass Killer,
  • Quick Kill Grass & Weed Killer,
  • Bonide Kleenup Weed & Grass Killer 41% Super Concentrate,
  • Hi-Yield Super Concentrate,
  • Maxide Super Concentrate 41% Weed & Grass Killer,
  • Super Concentrate Killzall Weed & Grass Killer,
  • Tiger Brand Quick Kill Concentrate,
  • Ultra Kill Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate,
  • Gordon’s Groundwork Concentrate 50% Super Weed & Grass Killer,
  • Zep Enforcer Weed Defeat III,
  • Eliminator Weed & Grass Killer Super Concentrate,
  • Monterey Remuda Full Strength 41% Glyphosate,
  • Knock Out Weed & Grass Killer Super Concentrate,
  • Southern States Grass & Weed Killer Concentrate II,
  • Total Kill Pro Weed & Grass Killer Herbicide,
  • Ace Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer.

Natural-based, Burn-down Herbicides: For those who would prefer not to use glyphosate for weed control in landscape beds or areas to be kept free of weeds, several non-selective, burn-down herbicides are available that are based on more natural products. This does not mean that they are safer for the individual doing the spraying – caution is always advised. Even natural products may irritate or burn the skin or injure the eyes, especially in the concentrated form. Read the product label for safe use and protective clothing (such as coveralls). It is advisable to wear rubber boots to prevent contact when walking through areas being sprayed, as well as wearing protective goggles and a pair of rubber or top quality dish washing gloves to help protect your hands and forearms from exposure, especially when mixing and adjusting the sprayer nozzle. Also keep in mind that sprayer wands often leak.

Please note that burn-down herbicides do not translocate into the root system, which means that for perennial and tougher to kill weeds, the weeds may regrow from the roots and require additional sprays for control. These products control actively growing, emerged, green vegetation. However, by being persistent with the spraying of any weed regrowth, even the toughest of weeds can be controlled. Do not allow sprays to contact desirable plants.

Examples of plant essential oil-based herbicides include:

  • SafeGro WeedZap (contains 45% cinnamon oil & 45% clove oil) (OMRI)
  • St Gabriel Organics BurnOut II (8% clove oil & 24% citric acid) (OMRI)

Examples of orange oil (d-limonene) based herbicides include:

  • Avenger AG Burndown Herbicide (55% d-limonene) (OMRI)
  • Worry Free Weed and Grass Killer (70% d-limonene) (OMRI)

Examples of fatty acid-based herbicides include:

  • Monterey Herbicidal Soap (22% ammoniated soap of fatty acids)
  • Finalsan Total Vegetation Control (22% ammoniated soap of fatty acids)
  • Garden Safe Weed & Grass Killer RTU (premixed) (3.68% ammoniated soap of fatty acids)

Examples of pelargonic acid herbicides include:

  • Scythe Herbicide (57% pelargonic acid)
  • BioSafe Weed Control (40% ammoniated nonanoate)
  • BioSafe Weed Control RTU (premixed) (5% ammoniated nonanoate)
  • BioSafe AXXE Broad Spectrum Herbicide (40% ammoniated nonanoate)
  • Mirimichi Green Pro Concentrate (40% ammoniated nonanoate) OMRI
  • Mirimichi Green Pro RTU (premixed) (5% ammoniated nonanoate) OMRI

Note: Pelargonic acid is a fatty acid which occurs naturally as esters in the oil of pelargonium. It is often called nonanoic acid. The ammonium salt of nonanoic acid, ammoniated nonanoate, is an herbicide.

Examples of acetic acid-based herbicides include:

  • Summerset Brand All Down Concentrate (23% acetic acid & 14% citric acid)
  • Vinagreen (20% acetic acid)

Table 1. Examples of Herbicides for Broadleaf Weed Control in Turfgrass and Landscape Beds.

Table 2. Turf Tolerance to Herbicides for Common Vetch Control.

Herbicide Bermudagrass Centipedegrass St. Augustinegrass Tall Fescue Zoysiagrass
atrazine D S S NR NR
(3- way) 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba S I I S S
metsulfuron S S S-I NR S
dicamba & metsulfuron S S S NR S
thiencarbazone, iodosulfuron, & dicamba 1 S S S 2 NR S
S = Safe at labeled rates
I = Intermediate safety, use at reduced rates
NR = Not registered for use on and/or damages this turfgrass
D = Fully dormant turf only.
Note: Do not apply post-emergence herbicides, except Celsius WG Herbicide, to lawns during the spring green up of turfgrass.
1 This mix of active ingredients requires the addition of
2 teaspoons of a non-ionic surfactant (that is, a wetter-sticker agent to aid in weed control at 0.25% by volume) per gallon of water, such as Hi-Yield Spreader Sticker. 2 Spot treatments to St. Augustinegrass at temperatures above 90 degrees may cause temporary growth regulation.

Note: Read and follow all label instructions when using herbicides. Herbicides containing 2,4-D should be applied at a reduced rate on St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass to prevent damage to these lawns. The product labels will give the rate to use for each type of turfgrass. If a second application is needed, it is safest to apply the herbicide in spot treatments. Repeated applications of a three-way herbicide should be spaced according to label directions. Do not mow within 48 hours after application of most herbicides. Most post-emergence herbicides need to dry on the leaf surface before irrigation or rainfall occurs. See Table 1 for turfgrass tolerance to herbicides.

Most herbicides should not be applied during spring transition (green-up of lawn) or when air temperatures exceed 90 ºF as this can cause severe damage to the turfgrass. A newly seeded lawn should be mowed a minimum of three times before applying an herbicide. Rainfall or irrigation a day or two prior to herbicide application reduces the chance of turfgrass injury and enhances weed uptake of the herbicide.

Pesticides are updated annually. Last updates were done on July 15, 2021 by Joey Williamson.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.

Original Author(s)

Robert F. Polomski, PhD, Associate Extension Specialist, Clemson University
Bert McCarty, PhD, Turf Specialist, Clemson University

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.