• Sandi Manna

4 Annual Winter Weeds That Emerge In Spring

Annual winter weeds geminate in the fall, over winter as plants and then they mature in the spring. They flower and set seed, and then they die in the summer (hence the term annual. The plant is only alive for one year).

This spring seems to be no different. With a winter as bad as it was it seems surprising that with Memorial Day only a few days away we would be seeing so many weeds, but I assure you they're out there. Now is the perfect time to get a jump on them!

Here we'll review the most common annual winter weeds, as well as provide tips on how to control them.

Annual Bluegrass:

This is over if the most common, and persistent, weeds in the United States. Annual bluegrass is an eyesore in a beautiful lawn. This grassy weed sets seed in a shorter stalk than desirable grass so your lawn is riddled with these unsightly see heads. Annual Bluegrass is difficult to control. The primary method of control is pretty new infestations. Often times weed seeds are spread by gardeners moving from area to area with weed seeds unknowingly on their shoes or equipment. When a patch of annual bluegrass is seen, it's best removed by hand stuffing as soon as you see it. You'll need to do this frequently as seeds spread quickly. The best practice is to keep your turfgrass healthy. Overwatering, especially in shady areas, will prepare dispose turfgrass to annual bluegrass. Annual bothered l bluegrass has shallow roots so deep, infrequent irrigation is best. There are some people preemergent herbicides which have been very successful in limiting the germination of annual bluegrass. Because they are preemergents they should be applied before gemination as they have no effect on plants that have emerged. There are also some post-emergent herbicides that have proven effective, but not all can be used on any type of turfgrass. Most are restricted to licensed applicators, and are less effective unless combined with other methods of control.


Henbit is a broadleaf weed that can really take over your gardens as well as your lawn. Henbit is in the mint family, and anything in the mint family is extremely aggressive growing. A long root makes this one a hard one to remove by pulling by hand. As with all weeds, your best bet in turf grass is to have a thick lawn, but these weeds are particularly fond of thinning lawns, so if your lawn is thinning, fall is the perfect time to seed. Repairs can be made in the spring as well. In the gardens, mulch helps keeps weeds down. Pre-emergent herbicides in fall will do the trick. Once they germinate over the winter and rear their ugly head in spring, a post-emergent herbicide will do the trick to help get rid of them. Post emergent herbicides are designed to be used after the weed has already been growing.

Purple Deadnettle:

Purple Deadnettle is a winter annual broadleaf weed. This means it's life cycle only spans one year. This weed germinates from seed, grows and dies in less than a year. Although bumblebees and honeybees are among the species of bees that are attracted to it's nectar, there are other - more desirable plants- you can plant to attract these pollinators. For more information on attracting pollinators, check out our blog post on the subject. If you are controlling these plants with an herbicide, it's best to target them before they flower to eliminate any possibility of injury to pollinators. By targeting these before they flower, you will reduce their spread, as without flower they are unable to produce seeds. Like Henbit, a targeted broadleaf herbicide will control these.

Common Chickweed:

This is a very common weed in North America. It grows somewhat spread out, close to the ground. This creates shade for turf grass as well as competition for nutrients, and water. Chickweed is easily hand pulled, or controlled with a targeted broadleaf herbicide. The best time to control chickweed is in the fall or spring.

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