Weeds are much like uninvited house guests -- they take up space, compete for resources and demand your attention. They can also be quite difficult to get rid of. For all gardeners, the first step in mitigating the impact of these interlopers is to identify them. Weed identification allows you to learn how to control or eradicate these common but problematic plants.
Look for bright yellow blossoms or fluffy white wisps in your garden to identify the common dandelion. Watch for weeds with these characteristics that are up to 1 foot tall and have thick, bright green, leafless stems with the flower petals growing in a circular pattern.
Identify sowthistle by its bulbous, prickly buds featuring stripes in variations of green. Take note of pale yellow blossoms growing from the buds, which are characteristic of this weed, that can grow up to 18 inches tall.
Distinguish carpetweed by its habit of spreading out across the ground horizontally in large patches. Nodes along the stems produce round whorls of long green leaves in varying lengths.
Look for low-growing greenery with many stems spreading from the center and growing outward in a circular clump along the ground to identify large or smooth crabgrass. Watch for a raised center rosette from which the stems root. Large crabgrass has hairy stems, while smooth crabgrass, has smooth ones.
Identify the dreaded poison ivy by its characteristic three-leaf clusters. Look for leaves that taper to sharp points and have several tooth-like ridges. Poison ivy has thin, pale green stems from which the leaves grow and tiny white flowers blooming from the center of the plant in May or June. Always wear gardening gloves when handling poison ivy because the entire plant is toxic.
Distinguish prickly lettuce in your garden by its thick reddish stems and noticeably jagged pale green leaves. Wear gloves to handle prickly lettuce, too, in order to avoid injury.
Look for thick-stemmed weeds that are purple at the base and green on the top to identify common cocklebur. This weed has green leaves more than an inch long that taper into a dull point with visible, light green veins.
Identify the perennial weed Canada thistle by its egg-shaped thistles resembling small cacti in shades of green and purple that turn into lavender blooms with thin, pointy petals. Canada thistle has thick green stems that grow up to 5 feet tall and feature small green leaves.
Observe weeds growing from a single thick spike, featuring red streaks on the stems, to identify lambsquarters. Look for triangular or diamond-shaped leaves approximately 4 inches long, with small teeth and a white underside, as is characteristic of this common weed.
Look for clusters of small yellow or green flowers to determine whether there is common ragweed growing in your garden. Ragweed has hairy stems and light green leaves that grow to about 4 inches long.
Identify common purslane by its large, red-purple stems and thick, waxy leaves surrounding delicate yellow blooms from August through October. Look for leaves with smooth edges and a dark green sheen on the top.
Look for deep green, egg-shaped leaves with a notch at the point to identify redroot pigweed. This common garden weed has small dense, hairs on its stems.