13 Common Lawn Weeds in Australia – Identification & Removal

August 7, 2021

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Removing Australian lawn weeds
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Everybody that owns a lawn knows how much maintenance goes into keeping the lawn grass nice and tidy. You have to water it on a tight schedule, mow it, and, of course – deal with all of those pesky weeds.

Speaking of lawn weeds, Mother Nature has “gifted” Australia with a lot of types, many of them that don’t even look like weeds. And that’s just half of it. Not only do these specific weeds not look like, well, weeds, they also have “special requirements” when it comes to their removal.

In this article, we are going to talk about the most common Australian lawn weeds that you can find in your garden, how to identify them, and remove them correctly.

Common Australian Lawn Weeds:

This being said, first, we need to talk about…

The main types of lawn weeds in Australia

Generally, you can find 2 types of lawn weeds in Australia – grass-like and broadleaf ones. As their names suggest, one type resembles grass and the other looks more like a full-grown leafy plant. Still, even knowing the basic things about them isn’t enough to identify the weeds. To help you locate them in your garden, we’ve provided you with detailed information about their characteristics:

Grass weeds

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If you are looking for weeds in your garden, and stumble upon a grass-like plant that checks the following visual marks, you are probably dealing with a grass weed:

  • Grass-like weeds own a single seed leaf (cotyledon);
  • These types of plants don’t have woody parts;
  • They don’t have a leaf stalk, meaning that each leaf is made from an upper blade and a sheathing base;
  • The ligule looks either membranous or hairy and feels the same in terms of texture;
  • The leaf veins on the plant are parallel and don’t have a main vein;
  • They have fibrous roots.

Broadleaf weeds

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Now that you know how grass weeds look, it will be even easier for you to recognise broadleaf weeds. Here is what to watch for:

  • Broadleaf weed types own 2 cotyledons;
  • Their leaves are made from a blade and a leaf stalk;
  • Unlike grass weeds, broadleaf types have a very pronounced main vein and actual veins around them;
  • Broadleaf weeds have a root system which has a taproot and lateral roots;
  • These sorts of plants have a shoot system made from a stem with attached leaves to it;
  • Their buds develop in leaf axils and close to the end of the stem.

Common Australian lawn weeds & how to get rid of them

Ok, so we’ve given you the basic things that you need to know about the 2 most common types of weeds in Australia – it’s time to break these down into specific plants to watch out for:

Nutgrass

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Scientific name: Cyperus rotundus
Type: Weed grass
Active season: Summer

Identification: This type of plant can have either bright yellow-green or dark green leaves and triangular stems, which feel very “edgy”. When left to grow freely, nutgrass forms tiny yellow-brown or purple-brown, spiky flowers, depending on the “version” of weed you have in your garden.

Control tips: The best way to get rid of nutgrass is by manually removing it. You’ll need to dig up the plants with a small spade, making sure to take care of the bulbs. The downside of this weed control option is that it’s very time-consuming. If you wish, you can also opt for a selective herbicide – it will help you treat larger areas faster. Of course, the disadvantage of this method is the price of the weed-killing products – they tend to be on the costlier side.

Oxalis

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Scientific name: Oxalis griffithii
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Spring and summer

Identification: The oxalis plant looks very similar to the tiny 3-leaf clovers that you can find in almost any garden. The only major difference is that this type of weed has small, yellow flowers, which are actually very pretty.

Control tips: When it comes to oxalis control, again, you have a few options. You can handpick the weed, making sure to pull out the whole root or to maintain a dense lawn, which will prevent an oxalis invasion. Of course, similarly to nutgrass, you can also opt for a selective herbicide.

Thistle

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Scientific name: Cirsium
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Summer and autumn

Identification: Thistle is a weed that you can distinguish very easily – it has long, sharp leaves with many tiny pickles, grows fairly tall, and blooms bright purple flowers.

Control tips: Thistle is a very pesky weed. The best thing that you can do is to regularly mow your lawn to prevent the plant from showing up in the first place. If you already have thistle bothering you, try manually removing it or use a good herbicide to destroy it – just make sure to spot treat and not spray your whole lawn with it – you don’t want to destroy the healthy grass.

Bindii

Soliva sessilis Photo: Cole Shoemaker [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Soliva sessilis
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Winter

Identification: The bindi weed is a short plant that has long prickly leaves. It grows in the shape of a rosette and has small flowers in its centre. One very good tell, when trying to figure out if you are dealing with a bindii weed or not, is the leaves – they are finely divided and have sharp spines.

Control tips: As with the other types of weeds that we’ve talked about, you can handpick the bindii plant or use a specialised weed killing product.

Winter grass

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Scientific name: Poa annua L.
Type: Grass-like weed
Active season: Winter

Identification: As the name of the weed suggests, the winter grass plant looks like, well, grass, is lime in colour, and soft to the touch. It also has long, off-white seed heads.

Control tips: If you are struggling with this type of grass-like weed, keeping your lawn healthy with fertiliser and by making sure it’s dense will help a lot. Again, if you need a quick solution to the problem, you can use a weed-killing product that targets the winter grass.

Summer grass (Crabgrass)

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Scientific name: Digitaria ciliaris
Type: Grass-like weed
Active season: Summer

Identification: Summer grass grows in small bunches and has soft, hairy leaves that are attached to long stems.

Control tips: You can remove summer grass by hand, which will take you a little time, but will be effective, or you can apply a post-emergent herbicide to kill off the weed. To prevent summer grass from growing on your lawn in the first place, you can try a pre-emergent herbicide in mid-spring.

Lambs tongue

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Scientific name: Plantago lanceolata
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Summer

Identification: You’ll recognise this type of weed very fast – it grows in a rosette formation, has soft, hairy leaves and no lobes, and long stems that end with white flowers.

Control tips: Similarly to other types of broadleaf weeds, you can remove lambs tongue manually and by applying some herbicide to deal with the pesky plant faster.

Wild carrot weed

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Scientific name: Daucus carota
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Spring

Identification: As far as common lawn weeds identification goes, maybe one of the easiest to figure out plants is carrot weed. What you are looking for is a tall, flower-like plant, with bunches of small, white petals.

Control tips: If you want to get rid of wild carrot weed, go for a powerful, local herbicide treatment – this will give you the best, fastest results, and leave your lawn weed-free.

Dandelion

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Scientific name: Taraxacum
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Spring and autumn

Identification: You’ve probably picked these as a child and know what we are talking about, but still – some of you may not. Ok, so dandelions are really hard to miss – they are small, yellow flowers, made from tiny leaves, which are bunched up in such a way that the flower looks fluffy. They also have fairly long stems and long leaves, which can be actually eaten.

Control tips: If you want to get rid of dandelions for good, your best bet is to hand dig them. There are tools on the market made especially for this type of task. As with most types of common Australian weeds, you need to make sure that the taproot is gone, otherwise, the plant will show up again. You can also use a pre-emergent to prevent dandelion seeds from germinating or a selective herbicide to directly kill them.

Chickweed

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Scientific name: Stellaria media
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Winter and spring

Identification: No matter if you are a baby gardener or an experienced one, chickweed is very easy to identify. The weed grows in small clusters, has stems that are no longer than a few inches, which are covered in small teardrop-shaped leaves, and are very tender to the touch. Chickweed also has small, white flowers that have exactly 10 petals.

Control tips: To remove chickweed from your lawn, you need to pull out the plant in order to expose the soil and then aerate it. You can accomplish this with an aerator or shovel. When using a shovel, make cuts into the lawn deep 2-3 inches every half a yard, and then spread a bit of fertiliser and weed killer. Make sure to water thoroughly and regularly – the chickweed will be gone in no time.

Catsear

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Scientific name: Hypochaeris radicata
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Summer and autumn

Identification: Catsear looks a lot like dandelion, however, if you give it a closer inspection, you’ll see that the leaves of the weed are a bit wider, the flowers are smaller, and the stems – longer.

Control tips: If you want to get rid of catsear in your lawn, we suggest checking the dandelion removal method that we’ve described earlier in the article.

White clover

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Scientific name: Trifolium repens
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Winter, spring, and autumn

Identification: White clover is very hard to confuse with another common Australian lawn weed. The plant lives close to the ground, has many, many tiny 3-leaf clovers, and grows these small, white flowers that have a bit of pink in their centres.

Control tips: Weed control always starts with a healthy garden, so make sure that your lawn and surrounding plants are fertilised and watered. If you already have clover on your lawn, you have only two options – to manually pull the little fellows out or to use a herbicide product to kill them.

Pennyweed (Pennywort)

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Scientific name: Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
Type: Broadleaf weed
Active season: Summer

Identification: When it comes to lawn weeds identification, pennyweed is a little harder to distinguish since it is often mistaken for dichondra. Still, this plant is one of the most common Australian lawn weeds. In terms of looks, similar to the plant that we’ve just mentioned, the weed has small, round leaves that are similar to pennies (hence the name). Interestingly enough, pennyweed doesn’t look half bad for a weed and many people decide to leave it in their gardens.

Control tips: Pennyweed loves moisture, it’s best to re-think your watering schedule. That being said, don’t leave your garden to die – keeping your lawn healthy is a must for proper weed control. Once again, you can also manually remove pennyweed, treat it with a herbicide, or go for a natural solution, such as the trusty vinegar.

Australian lawn weeds distribution by area

Now that we’ve covered the most common weeds in Australia, it’s time to talk a little bit about in which parts of the country you can find them in. To make things easier for you, we’ve categorised the above-mentioned plants by state, so that you can double-check which weeds grow in your area. Ok, let’s start with…

  • Queensland – bindii, nutgrass, crabgrass, winter grass, penny weed, carrot weed, and creeping oxalis;
  • Western Australia – clover, crabgrass, thistle, catsear, and chickweed;
  • South Australia – winter grass, thistle, nutgrass, catsear, and chickweed;
  • New South Wales – bindii, nutgrass, crabgrass, penny weed, white clover, carrot weed, and creeping oxalis;
  • Victoria – dandelions, winter grass, penny weed, white clover, carrot weed, and creeping oxalis;
  • Tasmania – clovers, winter grass, dandelion, carrot weed, and creeping oxalis;

Book a professional gardening service!

Dealing with nasty lawn weeds is not a very pleasant gardening chore. If you want to remove every single pesky plant from your garden, you need to, first, know exactly how to do so, have the right tools, and invest many, many hours in the task.

With this being said, why not hire a professional gardening technician to take care of the weeds for you? We, at Fantastic Gardeners Melbourne, offer affordable gardening solutions.

They can include anything from regular lawn care to weed removal for both the garden and lawn.

The service is extremely easy to book, as we already mentioned – easy on the budget, and will save you precious time. Forget about trying to clear your lawn from annoying weeds and book our gardening services in Melbourne now!

You don’t have to fight the stubborn weeds alone!

Entrust your lawn or garden in the capable hands of a professional local gardener!

Takeaways

  • There are 2 main types of weeds in Australia – grass-like weeds and broadleaf ones;
  • Figuring out what type of weed you are dealing with is often a key factor – you need to know what you are going to fight in order to choose the right weapon against it;
  • Generally, you have 2 basic weed control methods – manual removal and selective herbicides;
  • You need to be extra careful when using weed control products – some of them can also kill off the healthy grass around the plants that you are trying to remove;
  • If you need a faster and more effective way of dealing with weeds, hiring a professional gardening expert is your best bet.

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