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What is a Broadleaf Weed?

By N. Phipps
Updated May 16, 2024
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Even with proper care and weed control, lawns and gardens can still be bothered by an occasional weed or two, the majority of which are in the form of broadleaf weeds. Thankfully, a broadleaf weed is one of the easiest types of weeds to identify. Generally, the leaves are broad and flat, as with dandelions. However, the narrow leaves of wild garlic are the exception.

In addition to dandelion and wild garlic, other common broadleaf weeds include wild violet, morning glory, thistle, goldenrod, ragweed, spurge, plantain, chickweed, and clover. Broadleaf weed control usually requires the use of specially formulated broadleaf herbicide. However, before taking any action, especially where the use of chemicals is concerned, homeowners are encouraged to take some precautionary measures.

First, correctly identify the target weed and then try to determine why the weed is there to begin with. Weeds can be indicators of underlying problems. For example, a variety of weeds may indicate poor soil conditions. Finally, make changes accordingly using cultural methods whenever possible. In other words, change the environment that may be helping the weeds, such as improving poor soil conditions.

The best approach to broadleaf weed control is keeping lawns and gardens lush and healthy. For instance, many weeds appear in empty areas of the lawn or garden. To avoid this, homeowners should maintain thick grass coverage or lush garden plantings. This eliminates both the light and space needed for weeds to germinate and grow. Only after other measures have been taken, and when all else fails, should an appropriate broadleaf weed herbicide be used.

There are a number of broadleaf weed herbicides available for use. Broadleaf weed products are available in liquid spray or granular forms. Liquid is normally the preferred type, as weeds can more easily be spot-treated. Liquid sprays are also better for use in smaller areas. Granular forms are generally better for larger areas, such as lawns, and best applied to early morning, dew-covered grass.

Special care should be taken when using chemicals to kill weeds. In fact, if at all possible, organic methods are still the preferred method of eradicating weeds. Keep in mind that windy conditions can result in the chemical herbicide spreading to other areas. Although for some applications it’s often necessary to saturate the soil beforehand, rain or heavy watering can result in contaminating runoff. When properly mixed and applied, however, most broadleaf herbicides won’t harm lawn and garden areas.

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Discussion Comments
By jrcruzado — On Jun 04, 2012

Is there any difference in results in applying 2, 4, D in the morning or evening?

By ALevine — On Jun 23, 2011

@nefret, @letshearit - Be careful even when using enviro-friendly weed killers! A lot of people advocate things like bleach, soapy water or boiling water poured directly into the soil. Unless the weeds are truly isolated from other plants (e.g.: in between bricks or stones), these types of substances can end up killing your good plants too since it is soaked into the soil.

By nefret — On Jun 20, 2011

@lonelygod - There are also several environmentally friendly ways to get rid of these weeds to eliminate allergies and irritation in humans. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar (white is best) and after identifying the weeds, simply spray down the plants and stem. It's a very effective broadleaf weed killer since it doesn't affect other plants (as long as you watch where you spray).

By Oceana — On Jun 20, 2011

@cloudel - Daylilies are awesome at choking out weeds. I would advise you to buy plants already in bloom, because if you plant daylilies from packages of roots, then they will not bloom until their second year.

I have had my daylilies for about four years now, and they have grown to about three feet across per plant. The bunches of leaves form a sort of umbrella over the ground beneath them, and any weeds that do develop under there are very easily yanked up, because the soil stays moist under that covering.

If you plant your daylilies about 12 inches apart, then they will eventually grow to touch the edges of each other. This will choke out an entire row of weeds!

By StarJo — On Jun 20, 2011

@cloudel - I have the perfect ground cover for you. Rose moss grows very easily from seed. It spreads over the ground for about 7 or 8 inches per plant. The seeds are so tiny that you have to scatter them between your fingers rather than plant them one at a time, but this is good because lots of plants will spring up. You can thin them out by hand.

First, you should either use a hoe or a trowel to get all of the weeds and grass off of the area you are going to use for flowers. Then, keep the ground relatively moist until the plants start to surface. The great thing about rose moss is that once it is established, it is very drought-resistant.

Rose moss has beautiful, bright-colored flowers that stay open until mid-afternoon, when they shut until morning. You could also grow it around daylilies or hydrangeas, as long as it is in the sunny part and not the shade.

By cloudel — On Jun 20, 2011

This is great information! Next season, I am going to eradicate weeds by choking them out with nice plants. I would like to do either a ground cover or plant something big that will block the sun from whatever tries to grow under it. I could plant daylilies or hydrangeas to occupy space and give shade. Does anyone have a recommendation for a pretty flowering ground cover? I would rather have something that blooms all summer rather than just in spring. Also, it would be great if it could stand up to somewhat dry conditions.

By lonelygod — On Jun 20, 2011

You should be very careful if you are using a poison to get rid of the broadleaf weeds on your lawn. Often herbicides cause eye irritation in even the most allergy free people. If anyone in your family does have sensitivity to chemicals it is a good idea to move them to another location the day of the spraying and make sure they don't touch the lawn for a good week after they return.

If someone is experiencing an allergy to an herbicide they may have a rash and feed nauseated. Unless this reaction is severe a simple over the counter allergy pill should do the trick to make them more comfortable.

By letshearit — On Jun 20, 2011

If you find a lot of broadleaf weeds coming up between the cracks in pavement on your property or between brickwork a good idea is to get some household bleach and add it to some water in a spray bottle. This is a very inexpensive alternative to commercial weed killers and does the job well.

All you need to do is spray the offending weeds with the solution and leave them a few hours. Come back and spray them away with a high-pressured hose. Often you will even see the roots coming free, as the bleach has worked its way through the entire plant.

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