If only the dandelions and crabgrass would pay attention to the signs that read “keep off the grass.” Just a few weeds can ruin an otherwise perfect lawn. You can win the war against them, but first, you’ll have to fight a few battles. It helps to know your enemy since each weed is as unique as the plants in your garden. Here’s a list of Raleigh’s worst weeds and some tips on how to get rid of them.


    Most lawns in the mountain and Piedmont regions of Raleigh consist of tall fescue grass. It’s a cool-season variety that will also tolerate heat. But tall fescue is prone to dallisgrass, a weed that doesn’t respond well to pre-emergent treatments.  You can apply a glyphosate-based herbicide to each clump, but if you are not careful, overspray will kill part of the grass, too. The best way to get rid of this weed is to dig it out by the roots and reseed the area with tall fescue grass seed.


    This weed will drive you nuts! It can be tough to spot since it blends in with most grass types. But this perennial weed grows faster than the grass and can take over a healthy lawn in no time. Nutsedge, also called nutgrass, features tan blooms that can also appear purple or yellow. It’s notorious for being quite hard to get rid of. You can use vinegar or a post-emergent herbicide to control nutsedge, but you want to be careful not to spill the liquid on your grass or plants.

    Virginia Buttonweed

    Photo credit: Cathy Flanagan on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

    This perennial weed takes hold from summer to early fall. Since it’s native to the Southeast, Virginia buttonweed grows, well, like a weed in Raleigh. It’s often confused with wildflowers since it will sprout small white blooms. You’ll have to apply an herbicide month to stay on top of this invasive. You can also pull them out by hand, but it’s important to get the full stems and roots since these weeds need only a small remnant to re-establish themselves.

    Wild Violets

    While this weed does produce pretty leaves and flowers, it can quickly take hold of a lawn without remorse. Wild violets feature heart-shaped leaves and small violet blooms that arrive any time of the year except during the heat of the summer. Fall control is best with a weed control application but keep a lookout for this sneaky plant that can pop up nearly all year round.

    Ground Ivy

    You may want Ivy in some areas of the garden, but ground ivy is a weed that creeps along the root systems of your well-established lawn. Also known as creeping Charlie or creeping Jenny, it’s a perennial weed with rounded leaves with scalloped edges. You’ll find ground ivy in wetter spots of the lawn shaded by large trees or structures. Natural ways to control this weed include drying out the area to keep it from spreading. Applications of weed control can help a little bit but this hardy weed is tough to eliminate.

    Indian Mock Strawberry

    Photo credit: John Tann on Visual hunt /CC BY

    This noxious weed is extremely pervasive. It’s a perennial that tries to disguise itself as a strawberry plant. But it grows much faster, chokes out other plants and robs them of valuable nutrients. Indian mock strawberry spreads by runner roots and is quick to attach and take hold of the ground. It prefers moist, shaded areas. It’s difficult to get rid of, but you can pull the weed out by the stalk, and treat the spot with a herbicide. It’s almost impossible to kill all the roots, but you can slow its return.

    If you spot any of these weeds in your lawn, make sure to act quickly.  Your No. 1 defense against Raleigh’s worst weeds is a lush, well-cared-for lawn. Proper upkeep will keep the weeds off the grass.

    Looking for more information about gardening and lawn care in Raleigh? Visit our Raleigh, N.C. lawn care page.