Nothing spoils a well-kept lawn more than a weed invasion.
But before you act to stop its spread, it’s a good idea to find out what it is.
Different weed species are best dealt with in different ways. So identification is important.
If you’ve come across some lawn weeds with little white flowers, and you’re wondering what they are, I think I can help.
Lawn Weeds With Little White Flowers
These are some of the most common lawn weeds with small white flowers:
- White Clover
- Hairy Bittercress
- English Daisy
- Wild Onion & Wild Garlic
- Tall Fescue
- Garlic Mustard
Let’s take a look at how to identify them and what you can do to control their spread.
One of the most common lawn weeds, white clover is a fast and aggressive growing broadleaf perennial.
It’s a creeping plant that spreads low to the ground. And everywhere a stem node makes contact it grows roots.
For identification, take a look at the tear shaped leaflets that grow in sets of 3, and sometimes show a reddish stripe. And a close look at the spiky small white flowers should reveal a green center.
How do you control it?
Because of the speed of growth, control can be difficult. And it will take over your lawn if you leave it. So it’s best to deal with it as soon as you can.
Mowing your grass at a high level and making sure the lawn is healthy helps to keep white clover out. And you can prevent its growth in flower beds with a layer of mulch that stops seed germination.
If it’s already established, you have options:
If it’s just a small patch, you can pull it from the ground by hand. As it grows in clumps, it’s easy to get hold of and remove. But make sure you remove all of the root.
You can also get selective broadleaf weed killers that can kill off larger areas of infestation without harming your grass or desirable plants nearby.
But it’s not easy to get rid of altogether. Seeds from the plant lie dormant in the soil for many years before sprouting. So keeping it under control often becomes a yearly job.
Bittercress is an annual weed that emerges in early spring, usually about February. You can identify it by its scalloped leaves arranged alternately around a central stem, and it’s little white flowers.
It thrives in wet soil. And it’s common to notice its growth after you’ve had a period of heavy rainfall.
It’s a good idea to eradicate bittercrass from your lawn before the small white flowers produce seedpods. The seeds spread easily over quite a long distance. And it doesn’t take many plants to create an infestation the following spring.
One easy way to control bittercress is to mow your lawn regularly. This can be affective as long as you do it before it sets seed.
How do you get rid of it?
Pulling or digging the weed out can be effective. But like many other weeds, you have to make sure you don’t leave any of the root behind in the soil.
If you’re facing a heavy infestation, it’s probably not practical to dig them all out. So you might have to use a post-emergent weed killer. Look for one that’s labelled for a bittercress and use it in the spring and fall.
One of the most recognizable weeds to many, the English daisy is often found growing in lawns, parks, fields, and pastures.
It’s a low growing wildflower that spreads through thick rhizomes and seeds. And it often grows in patches on your turf.
It flowers in spring, producing white flowers that have numerous white petals arranged around a center of yellow florets.
There are other types of daisies you might come across, and they all produce similar flowers.
But the English daisy can be further identified by the spatula-shaped leaves that grow from 1-2.5 inches long that are arranged in a rosette. The edges of the leaves are serrated, and rounded at the top.
What’s the best method of control?
Some gardeners don’t mind leaving daisies as the pretty flowers add a bit of colour to the garden when they bloom.
But if you’re looking to control them, the first step is to improve turf density through good lawn care practices.
Most post emergent weed killers are capable of killing any patches that you want to completely eradicate.
This common annual broadleaf weed is well known for spreading quickly across lawns if left unchecked.
Popular with chickens, hence the name, it’s an edible herb. And you can use the flowers and leaves in a salad after you’ve finished digging it up.
If you’re keeping an eye on your lawn, you’ll first notice chickweed growing during the winter. In early spring the plant flowers, with each small flower consisting of white petals.
The weed can grow about 8 inches tall. And the shoots mat together as it grows, sometimes extending up to 16 inches around the plant.
It reproduces by both seeds and through its roots. And once you allow it to spread across your lawn it’s difficult to get rid of.
What can you do to control it?
If you identify it early, then pulling it out by hand is a good method of control. Just make sure you remove all of the roots. It’s possible for the shoots to re-root, so don’t leave the pulled weed lying in your garden.
Chickweed is a very common lawn weed, so most selective broadleaf weed killers will kill chickweed while leaving your grass unharmed.
And a pre-emergent herbicide applied in late summer or early fall is also useful to stop its seeds from germinating.
Wild Onion & Wild Garlic
Wild garlic in flower
At first glance, you might mistake these closely related plants for tall grass. But they really stand out when you get close to them and notice the distinctive smell. This is particularly strong straight after you’ve mowed your grass.
They grow in early spring and late fall. With a dormant spell during the summer months. And because they grow very fast, they quickly tower above your turf grass, growing in obvious clumps.
When they bloom in late spring, you’ll see clusters of white flowers dangling from stalks.
Wild onion flowers by Sam Wilson
How do you control it?
The best way of preventing wild onion and wild garlic is to keep your lawn thick and healthy. This prevents it becoming established.
But, they’re not difficult to remove by hand. It’s best not to pull them out as the bulb might break off, allowing the plant to grow back. Instead, use a trowel or spade to dig underneath and lift it out. Digging 6 inches deep is usually enough to do the job.
Post-emergent selective weed killers using herbicides such as dicamba, MCCP, and 2,4-D are another effective option.
This cool season biennial herb is one of the most invasive lawn weeds with little white flowers. And it quickly spreads.
The plant grows about 3-4 feet tall when fully mature. You can identify it by its heart-shaped leaves with tooth-shaped edges. And when in bloom, the small white flowers have 4 petals.
There’s an easy way to confirm that it’s garlic mustard:
Try crushing a leaf between your fingers. It should give off a strong smell of garlic and onion.
It’s important to control garlic mustard if you find it growing in your lawn. Each plant produces hundreds of seeds allowing it to easily spread. And the seeds can survive in the soil for approximately 5 years. So it will keep appearing for years after you first clear an area.
How do you get rid of it?
You can hand pull it if the infestation is small. It’s easier to do when the soil is damp. But it has a long taproot that can grow more plants. So try to do it while the weed is still small, before it flowers, removing as much root as you can. Keep an eye on pulled sites to check if it sprouts from broken root fragments.
For large infestations, use the best lawn weed killer in the early spring prior to the plant flowering. Another good time is late fall.
Tall fescue is a cool season grass that’s popular in some parts of the US.
But if you’re growing a different type of grass in your lawn, then you’ll probably consider this an invasive perennial weed if it suddenly appears.
Because it’s faster growing than most other lawn grasses, it’s very noticeable. And it grows in tall bunches, sometimes up to 20 cm in height.
Tall fescue emerges in early spring, and by late summer the plant reaches maturity. Between April and July green-white flowers appear, and you’ll notice white seed heads from about May that are sometimes tinged with purple.
You can identify it by its broad, stiff leaves that grow about 4-5 inches long and 1 cm or more wide. With edges that are rough to touch.
Is it easy to control?
If you allow it to become established, it can be very difficult to remove by hand. It has a thick root system that grows 2-3 ft. deep. And if you’re not successful in digging out all of the roots the plant quickly regrows.
Unlike broadleaf weeds, killing it with a herbicide can be tricky. Most herbicides that kill tall fescue will harm your turfgrass at the same time. So you need a selective weed killer that can specifically kill tall fescue grass while leaving other types of grass alone.
It’s also worth knowing that weed killer won’t be effective while the plant is dormant. So make sure it’s growing before you spray it.