photo of wood sorrel (oxalis) foliage

Are You Ready for July Weeds?

It’s time for round two. July brings a new bounty of weeds. Here in the Midwest, you can add heat and mosquitoes to that mix. Yes, it’s a party! If your kids can help, let them (they will need heavy gloves for thistle). If they can’t identify the weeds, here’s a handy guide to the most common. No excuses, no mistakes!


Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are hard to pull, because they have taproots that reach far into the soil.  They grow in even very hard-packed clay soils.  Use a long trowel or weed fork to dig out around the root.

Dandelion Flowers Sonchus Oleraceus Spring


Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ) is a succulent that begins spreading in late June and early July.  Unlike dandelion, purslane has very shallow roots.  You may think this is a blessing, but you’ve got to remove every piece of this plant, as any broken pieces left on the soil will quickly re-root and grow again.

color photograph of purslane



Chickweed (Stellaria media) is easy to pull but, like purslane, it is a spreader. Be sure to remove the entire plant.  Try to get at it before it spreads it’s multitude of seeds.

chickweed flowers and foliage photo
chickweed photo by Lazaregagnidze


Ragweed (A. artemisiifolia) is the real culprit when it comes to fall allergies, though goldenrod is often blamed.  Its roots spread out like a carpet.  You need to remove all of those fibers to prevent regrowth.

photo of ragweed ambrosia psilostachya
Ragweed photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek Kenraiz, Creative Commons

Canada thistle

Canada thistle  (Cirsium arvense) is a gardener’s nightmare.  Not just because it’s prickly, but it spreads by underground runners and wind-dispersed seeds.

You will need to be persistent in pulling it, and remove it before it produces seed.

photo of Canada thistle foliage
Canada thistle


Crabgrass ( Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.) is an annual, so it dies at the end of the season.  Yet, it will spread like crazy if you let it set seed.  Pull out its fibrous root as soon as possible.  The roots are difficult to remove completely as the plant grows.

photo of crabgrass
crabgrass photo by Richard Arthur Norton, English Wikipedia

Wood sorrel (Oxalis)

This perennial (Oxalis stricta) is easy to spot and pull.  It seeds by “popping” seed pods. So, you’ve got to pull it before the seed pods are ready to burst. Otherwise, you’re just helping it reproduce!

photo of wood sorrel (oxalis) foliage
Oxalis photo by Thomas D. Fischer, Creative Commons


Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) is another easy-to-pull weed, but it seeds prolifically. The sooner you can get to it, the more success you’ll find in eradicating it from your garden.

photo of pink smartweed flowers and foliage


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