Everything You Need To Know About Broadleaf Weeds

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Sow Thistles up against a wooden fence


Broadleaf weeds, like all lawn weeds, are harmful to the overall health and appearance of your yard. These invasive plants can quickly take over your lawn, where they will steal the natural resources away from your healthy grass. The longer a broadleaf weed invasion goes undetected, the weaker and patchier your lawn will become. If you are a homeowner in Louisiana, it is important to understand how to identify and control these pesky plants, so the team here at Brothers Lawn Service & Landscaping has put together this guide for you! Join us as we get into the weeds!

Identifying Broadleaf Weeds

roots of weeds

You may be wondering, what do broadleaf weeds even look like? Broadleaf weeds can be identified by their infamous wide, flat leaves. These leaves are often fuzzier or smoother than more common garden plants. Depending on the species of broadleaf weed, the plant may produce a single flower or a cluster of flowers. Broadleaf weeds can grow annually, biennially, or perennially, making their growth and control needs difficult to predict.

Broadleaf weeds are known to multiply quickly, utilizing a mixture of both rhizomes (under ground), stolons (above ground), and seeds to sprout new shoots. Many broadleaf weeds grow in a prostrate manner that leads to tangling and matting across your turf. Broadleaf weeds can have a very shallow root system near the surface of the soil, a deep central taproot, or a combination of both, which can make removing mature broadleaf weeds very difficult.

Key Characteristics Of Broadleaf Weeds:

  • Leaves are known for their net-like veins that transport nutrients, as well as their wide blades that are often serrated or lobed.
  • Stems are typically slender and long, and many broadleaf weeds spread by stolons that crawl across the top of your soil.
  • Root systems often contain a central taproot, tubers and rhizomes near the soil surface, or a combination of both.
  • Flowers may be produced singularly, or they may be produced in clusters at the ends of stems (not all broadleaf weeds produce flowers).
  • Seed heads are typically (but not always) delicate and cotton- or oat-like in appearance, emerging after flowers bloom and fully mature.
  • They are dicots that have paired cotyledons, which are two seed leaves that usually appear during germination.

Where Do Broadleaf Weeds Grow?

matted chickweed

Now that you know some of the most important characteristics of broadleaf weeds, you should have an easier time identifying them. However, there is still the matter of knowing where broadleaf weeds commonly grow. The various types of broadleaf weeds can be found all over the world, but there are certain conditions and situations that make an invasion more likely. They are often seen growing in lawns, gardens, along highways, and even between sidewalk cracks. Broadleaf weeds need plenty of sun and water to grow, so they tend to do well in open areas that receive a good deal of watering or rainfall. However, many types can also survive in partial shade.

Many broadleaf weeds are also known to grow in disturbed soils or bare lots if there are no other desirable plants present. This means you should be extra vigilant when making changes to your yard, such as seeding or turning over soil, as these activities can create the perfect environment for broadleaf weeds to take hold and spread. Basically, anywhere that healthy plants can (or can't) grow, so too can broadleaf weeds.

Common Sites Of Broadleaf Weeds:

  • Roadsides
  • Sidewalk cracks
  • Disturbed soils
  • Compacted soils
  • Poorly draining lawns
  • Nutrient-dense gardens
  • Larger flower beds
  • Areas in full-to-partial sunlight

Life Cycle Of Broadleaf Weeds

dandelion weed control

The life cycle of a broadleaf weed typically begins with germination, which occurs when a seed finds itself in an area containing the right combination of temperature and moisture for that particular species. Once seeds germinate, they will produce the first set of leaves (cotyledons) and the root system will start to develop. The seedling will grow into a mature weed, producing stems and flowers as it grows. After flowering and pollination occur, viable seeds are produced that can be dispersed through various means, such as wind, animals, rainfall, and more. These new seeds will then restart the cycle by finding their way to suitable soil conditions for germination to occur once again.

Annual Broadleaf Weeds

What does Chickweed Look like

Annual broadleaf weeds can grow in either summer or winter, depending on the species. Summer annuals germinate in spring and mature/set seeds in summer to late fall, while winter annuals germinate in late summer or fall, go dormant over winter, and set seeds in early spring. As these plants live only 1 year, they do not develop overly complex root systems, making them easier to remove before maturing.

Common Examples:

Biennial Broadleaf Weeds

identifying musk thistle

Biennial broadleaf weeds live for about 2 years, as the name would suggest. True biennial weeds develop only stems, leaves, and roots in the first year before going dormant over winter. The weeds will return to life in spring and produce flowers and seed heads in their second year to spread the invasion before dying. Some mature annuals behave as biennials by overwintering and living through 2 seasons, but this is dissimilar from the aforementioned life cycle of true biennial weeds.

Common Examples:

  • Musk thistle
  • Wild carrot
  • Wild parsnip
  • Burdock

Perennial Broadleaf Weeds


Perennial broadleaf weeds, unlike annuals, are more hardy and can return for several years if they are not removed. Different species can grow throughout various seasons and climate conditions, which makes them a much more formidable foe! Perennial weeds develop complex root systems and often develop seed heads, making the spread of these types of weeds twofold and much more difficult to control.

Common Examples:

Preventing & Removing Broadleaf Weeds

Brothers Line Trimming

When it comes to weed control in Louisiana, prevention is always the way to go. Especially with our excessively damp and wet climate, weeds are an inevitability, which is why maintaining a healthy lawn and yard is so important throughout the year. Mowing an inch higher than you usually would is a good way to choke out emerging seedlings if you start to notice them popping up in the soil. Mulching your gardens and tree rings is also highly beneficial to the health of the soil, and it creates a protective barrier that will prevent weeds.

If a broadleaf weed invasion has already begun on your property, there are still some things you can do for your lawn to remove the weeds and save your yard. The tips below are the most effective ways to remove broadleaf weeds, or you can just call Brothers Lawn Service and let us come get those weeds for you!

Best Ways To Remove Broadleaf Weeds:

  • Hand-Pull: Best for shallow roots. Be sure to pull firmly and steadily near the base of the plant, and do not leave any root or stem fragments behind.
  • Dig Roots: Best for deep taproots or fibrous roots. Use a gardening spade or other tool to dig under and around the soil containing the root system.
  • Apply Pre-Emergent: Best for weed seeds in soil. If some weeds have emerged, others are likely waiting, and they can be blocked from emerging with preventive herbicides.
  • Apply Post-Emergent: Best for emerged, matted weeds. Use a selective weed killer (2, 4-D) directly on the emerged weed, but make sure you do not apply any to your grass.