How to Identify Weeds

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Before we talk about the most effective way to identify weeds, it may help to first establish what a weed actually is. Weeds are a little tricky to define because what might be considered a weed in one location, may not be in another. For example, you might consider a dandelion a weed when it sprouts up smack dab in the middle of your lawn, but you may consider it to be nothing more than a plant if you spot it growing in a wild meadow. While the classification of weeds is subject to the eye of the beholder, we can reasonably agree that a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place.

On a more granular level, weeds can be classified based on where and how they are growing. This can take a variety of forms—poisonous weeds, crop weeds, invasive weeds etc.—but this article is catered primarily to the homeowner and their infinite quest to identify and eradicate lawn and garden weeds.

Which brings us to how to successfully identify them—which can be a surprisingly difficult endeavor. Let’s look at the two most common ways of doing so.

  • The old fashion way. In short, this method is when you identify the weed(s) by comparing it to a picture. There are some wildly helpful websites and YouTube videos out there devoted to this very cause, and, if you’re an avid gardener, it may be worth adding a weed identification book to your library.
  • The new school way. Plant identification apps have become increasingly popular in the past few years, and with good reason. Most are free, incredibly user friendly, and quite accurate. A couple ones worth checking out are Plant Identify and Picture This.

Identifying weeds will ultimately make your garden prettier and healthier, and it can also provide valuable insights into the growing conditions of your yard (soil conditions, water levels, available sunlight, etc.).

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