The Eastern United States runs rampant with weeds during the summer months, and they eat into our lawns and gardens quickly. Here is a guide to some of the most common weeds in the east.
Foxtail is an bristly, upright annual grass that grows up to 5 feet tall. It has furry seed heads, and its root system spreads a natural herbicide that can prevent other plants from growing. Regular mowing will help stall its seed germination. Simply pulling the weed is the best way to get rid of it, as their roots are shallow. Always dispose of these clippings or uprooted weeds, and never use them as compost. You can also apply a 2 inch layer of mulch to your garden, which can prevent Foxtail weeds from sprouting.
In the Eastern States, we have Polygonum perfoliatum L. aka the mile-a-minute weed, or the Asiatic Tearthumb, found in PA, NY. OH, WV, and VA (and areas of OR). The mile-a-minute weed can be found on stream banks, roadsides, clearings and ditches. It is an annual vine, recognized by their triangular leaves, reddish stems protected by thorns, and a cup shape near the stem with flower buds and berries. Birds transport the seeds, and are helping it to spread across more states.
It grows quickly, and no appropriate bio-controls have been found. Dangerous chemicals are the only known deterrents, but these are not safe for humans or other plants. You have to just pull it up and get all the roots. There is no other way to remove them, and they grow fast!
Annual Bluegrass grows in wet soils of the southeast and can produce over 2000 seeds per plant. It is an upright weed with bunch-type growth. General turfgrass herbicides will control most of your bluegrass. Taller mowing heights will help control its growth, as it favors a lower mowed lawn. This is why we rarely see annual bluegrass on golf courses.
Also called bitterweeds, ragweed is part of the sunflower family. It grows in upright, branching stems, and can reach a height of 3 feet. They can grow on just about any vacant lot, roadsides, and sunny grassy plains. Ragweed is a powerful allergen that frustrates millions of people with allergies, such as hay fever. It grows quickly, and each plant can produce a billion strains of pollen in one season. It is impossible to eradicate, but can be control to avoid over-spreading. Chemical sprays can effectively control large areas. If you decide to uproot these weeds yourself, be sure to wear gloves and cover your whole body with clothing, as skin contact has cause severe irritations. Recently, the leaf-eating beetles have been introduced as a means to control ragweed.
White clover is a low growing perennial plant with pinkish white flowering heads. The plant, and even its roots are edible and often fed to livestock. Clovers are actually high in protein and can be used in our own cooking. As this is not an invasive or dangerous weed, few methods for control have been researched.
This is found in New York State, CT, MA, as far east and north as New Hampshire. Giant hogweed has a short reddish stem and spotted, hollow leaf stalks. It bears numerous white flowers in the spring and summer. Its sap can cause severe skin irritation, sun sensitivity and blisters. Giant hogweed is usually removed by uprooting, and the U.S. Government has taken an active role in its removal.
The dandelion is a yellow flowering plant that we’ve all seen in our yards. It is not a dangerous weed, but it can affect your lawn’s proper growth. The dandelion is actually edible. The best control is to manual uproot these flowering weeds, wash them thoroughly and stir them into a soup!