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The 6 Worst Lawn Weeds in Minnesota & Control Tips for Minneapolis Area Homeowners


Weeds, anyone?

We didn’t think so.

Nothing puts you in a bad mood like gazing out at your green carpet of lawn and realizing about 100 weeds sprouted, seemingly overnight.

It’s maddening. It’s embarrassing. It’s time for action.

What are the most common lawn weeds in Minnesota?

What are some tips for lawn weed identification?

And (insert drum roll here): how to get rid of them?

How about some answers?

Common Lawn Weeds in Minnesota

Here are the biggest offenders on the worst weeds list:

1. Crabgrass

When it comes to common lawn weeds in Minnesota, crabgrass is king.

Crabgrass in lawnCrabgrass is a warm-season annual with an impressive claim to fame: each crabgrass plant produces as many as 150,000 seeds.

Those pesky seeds stay behind, ready to germinate the following spring and start the evil cycle all over again. Even seeds that don't germinate right away can hang around to sprout in future years.

It’s a huge pain.

What it looks like: The leaves of crabgrass are broader than grass blades and it grows in clumps close to the ground. The stems grow outward rather than up, and look like the legs of a crab.

How to get rid of it: The key is preventing those stubborn seeds from becoming more seed-producing plants.

Pre-emergent treatment is crucial — targeting those seeds as they germinate and take root in the soil. But like most weeds, crabgrass is stubborn and can sneak through even if you applied pre-emergent, particularly in thinner areas or along edges. However, these invaders can be spot-treated.

While most lawn care companies do one crabgrass application in the spring, here at RainMaster, we do two, one in early spring and another in late spring. This extends protection. (We really hate crabgrass.)

2. Clover

A fun fact about clover: it produces its own nitrogen, so it really thrives in lawns that are undernourished. A healthy, well-fed lawn means fewer clover.

Clover lawn weed
What it looks like: A sure sign of clover is its delicate round white or pink flowers. You’ll also see three leaflets at the end of a long stem.

How to get rid of it: More on this later, but the best way to prevent clover is to have a thick, healthy lawn that isn’t mowed too short. Regular fertilizer helps. A thick lawn will crowd out clover.

3. Canada Thistle

Thistle is one of those words that looks like it sounds — prickly, spiny, and generally unpleasant. You don’t want to step on this one out on your lawn in your bare feet, trust us.

Canada thistle lawn weedWhat it looks like: Canada thistle has soft green, deeply lobed, spear-like leaves with sharp barbs on them, practically daring you to tug them.
If allowed to go to flower, the flower is a purple pom-pom produced in clusters at the top of the plant.

How to get rid of it: Because of its tough roots, thistle can be tricky to control. Mature plants have root systems that can extend for 10 feet.

Canada thistle, a perennial, is a double whammy — it spreads not just by seed, but by those tenacious roots, which makes controlling it an extra challenge.

Apply weed control products to kill thistle, especially in spring and fall, before it can flower and seed.

Pro tip: a thick layer of mulch prevents germination of new thistle. You can also prevent thistle by keeping your lawn healthy and thick.

4. Dandelions

Dandelions are another one of the most common lawn weeds in Minnesota. It’s a perennial and like most lawn weed types, it propagates through the spread of seeds.

Have you given a puff to a dandelion and watched its seeds scatter in the wind? You just helped a bunch more dandelions grow.

Those seeds germinate really easily. And they can last for decades, sprouting long after you blow on that puff ball.

What it looks like: Dandelions have smooth, sharply toothed leaves; bright yellow spiky flowers; and round, puffy white seed heads.

How to get rid of them: Most people think dandelions originate in the spring, but dandelion seeds actually germinate in late summer and early fall.

We target dandelions with a specialty “weed shield” herbicide designed to reduce the number of dandelions that emerge. If any sneak through, we can treat them any time of year with a broadleaf herbicide.

5. Creeping Charlie (Also Called Ground Ivy)

This tenacious perennial gets its name from its creeping stems that grow along the ground. Those stems, and its seeds, are how it spreads. And spreads.

Creeping Charlie lawn weedWhat it looks like: Creeping Charlie is a green vine with round, scalloped-edge leaves. It has a purple flower but is best identified by its growth habit. It grows close to the ground and forms a mat-like ground cover.

How to get rid of it: Like most lawn weeds, creeping Charlie thrives in an unhealthy lawn. So, a healthy lawn is your best defense.

But if it strikes, it's tough to conquer. It’s not affected by most broadleaf herbicides.

If you have just one or two of these stubborn invaders, pull them out by hand. But if it’s a large patch, that may not be a good idea.

Creeping Charlie will reproduce from its seeds but it also spreads rapidly by growing more roots along its stems.

Pulling out this weed and missing any stems or throwing them into other parts of your lawn may actually stimulate more growth. This is why this lawn weed is so difficult to control.
When necessary, we tackle them with a specialty liquid weed control with multiple applications throughout the year.

Using a professional-grade, specialty weed killer in the fall will also go a long way to combat this weed. Your typical home improvement store weed control won’t do the job.

Read The Essential Guide to Lawn Care in Minnesota & Wisconsin

6. Broadleaf Plantain

This aggressive, stubborn perennial weed thrives in neglected lawns, and especially likes wet areas with little sun. It has a shallow, thick taproot up to 18 inches long that keeps it alive over the winter.

Broadleaf plantainWhat it looks like: Plantain has medium-green, oval-shaped leaves that form flat rosettes. Flower spikes emerge in late spring with dozens of tiny flower buds.

How to get rid of it: This weed thrives in compacted soil; thin lawns; lawns that are mowed too short; moist shade; and areas that get inconsistent irrigation.

Get rid of these problems, and you’ll discourage plantain.

Aerate your lawn in the fall, especially if your soil is compacted. Mow your lawn high, at 3-4 inches. Seed any sparse areas. If it does show up, it can be treated with a broadleaf weed control.

The Best Defense Against Lawn Weeds in Minnesota

By now, you should notice a common theme: Preventing weeds is easier than getting rid of them. And a thick, healthy lawn is the best way to prevent weeds.

Weeds hate healthy lawns.

A few key tips:

Mow High

We know, it’s tempting to mow even lower than usual to mow down those annoying buggers. But it doesn’t work that way.

Taller grass helps a lawn grow thicker. Mow too short, and the soil heats up, helping those pesky weed seeds to germinate.

Shorter grass also has a weaker root system, which makes it more susceptible to weeds.

Proper Watering

A lawn that’s too wet or too dry encourages weeds.

You can invest in a professionally-installed irrigation system to help water your lawn correctly and efficiently.

Irrigation-HeroAnother alternative is to pick up some hoses, timers, and sprinklers. It’s more time consuming and cumbersome than a professional system, but it’s better to water your lawn properly on your own than to just ignore its needs.

Timing Is Everything

When you see weeds in your yard, sometimes it seems like they sprouted overnight.

They didn’t. The weeds you see actually started germinating in the soil weeks or months ago.

That’s why you need a complete, proactive care program that includes both weed preventative and curative treatments from early spring to late fall.

Spring preventative treatments are based on soil temperature. Here in Minnesota, that means our start time can range from March to May. Curative weed spray treatments occur from April through early October.

If your lawn looks healthy, can’t you skip weed prevention?

Nope. Remember, those seeds are hanging out, sometimes for years. Ignore them, and they’ll turn into ugly weeds.

Weed Control is a Process

Weed control isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a continuous process.

Different common lawn weeds in Minnesota are active different times of year. Many of the peskiest spring weeds actually germinate in the fall.

And some products work based on temperature, which means we may switch products as needed, based on the weather.

There’s a lot more involved than just applying products on your lawn.

Sometimes Spot Treatment is Enough

We know you care about the environment, just like we do.

That means we don’t blanket your lawn with weed treatment if it isn’t necessary.lawn spot treatmentCrabgrass needs that whole-lawn treatment, but other weeds might just show up occasionally.

If you have just a few weeds, we’ll treat just those weeds.

You Still Might See Weeds

When we visit your property to prevent or treat lawn weeds in Minnesota you get skilled, knowledgeable technicians and the best products available.

We’ll do everything we can to make sure your lawn is the best it can be and take care of those pesky weeds.

While we’d love to claim we can rid your lawn of 100 percent of its weeds, that’s just not possible. Or honest.

Some weeds haven’t yet germinated when we visit your property. Others may creep in from your neighbor’s yard. Weeds are pretty tenacious.

We’re happy to return to nab those persistent weeds, at no charge. Or we’ll treat them at our next visit. You don't want weeds, and we don't want you to have weeds.

Remember, it often takes 10 days or longer for products to kill weeds. It’s not about how fast we knock those weeds down. It’s about knocking them out for good.

Battling Lawn Weeds in Minnesota? RainMaster Can Help

You want a healthy lawn with fewer weeds. That’s what we want, too.

RainMaster lawn technician with customerConsider it a team effort. Let’s create a custom nutrition plan for your lawn, so the roots will be nourished, the soil packed with nutrients, and your grass so thick and healthy, weeds will have a tough fight ahead of them.

But if they do show up, we’re ready.

Are you ready to stop battling lawn weeds? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a great choice. Then, you can finally enjoy your lawn and stop worrying about it.

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Image sources: clover, canada thistle, dandelion, creeping charlie           

Topics: Lawn Care, Minneapolis

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