The white floaties originate from a densely packed seed head that resembles a fuzzy ball. If you look closely, each seed head has dozens of umbrella-like extensions. Located at the seed head’s center are the seeds — each seed has this umbrella structure attached to them. The umbrella’s canopy consists of hairs formed much like a chimney sweep brush. Combining both a tall stem and airy seed head, dandelions keep their seeds upright and available to wind vectors for successful distribution in the region.
Because many dandelions find a good growing location in lawn areas, wind gusts often disperse the seed parachutes throughout the area. The umbrella hairs lift the seed from the head and float along the breeze. The extremely lightweight seed can float as far as the wind allows. Once dropped into another soil location, these seeds do not have extensive dormant periods like other plant species. In fact, the seed germinates quickly to establish itself in the new location before plant competition takes over for natural resources, such as moisture and sunlight.
Enjoying warm locations, dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) grow roots as deep as 15 feet into the soil, if they remain undisturbed. Often considered a weed in lawns and flowerbeds, these rapidly growing plants are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through10. The white floaties that the dandelion produces are specialized seeds that are highly successful for widespread reproduction.
The white floaties provide widespread dandelion populations since they fly far distances, especially if the wind is strong enough. In fact, successfully grown dandelion roots help your soil remain aerated. As the roots grow deeply, they reduce soil compaction by creating air and moisture pockets underground. As a result, other tender plant roots have a chance to move into the aerated soil for ample foliage and stem growth. The dandelion taproot also increases nutrients in the shallow topsoil by moving critical elements, like calcium, from the deeper ground regions. Overall, successful dandelion seeds and seedlings create a fertile environment for all plant growth.
Before the specialized seeds appear, dandelions generate a yellow to orange flower on a stem that can rise up to 18 inches from the ground. This flower appears bright and fluffy against its green background, but is not a large or particularly appealing blossom for insect attraction. Requiring no pollinators, dandelions are self-pollinating and often change from flower to seed head over several days. This rapid seeding ability makes dandelions extremely successful at populating a widespread area — gardeners cannot keep up with the constant growth.
Writing professionally since 2010, Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and orchids at home. With an electronics degree and more than 10 years of experience, she applies her love of gadgets to the gardening world as she continues her education through college classes and gardening activities.
Probably the icon of summer weeds any lawn faces, dandelions emerge in early spring when the soil temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These persistent perennials come equipped with a deep taproot sprouting bright yellow blossoms that grow on end of leafless, hollow stalks and emit a white milky sap when broken. You may also recognize these with a white puffball seed head. This appears shortly after mowing. Dandelions reproduce readily by seed, and spread quickly by the dispersal of wind. They prefer moist conditions and soils, but thrive in weak, thin turf. Apply a post-emergent herbicide in early spring when temperatures are still cool.
These perennial weeds are pansy-like flowers featuring five blue-violet, lilac or white petals that grows in bunches reaching 2-5 inches tall. Wild violets can quickly take over cool, shady, moist, and fertile soil. Eradicating these weeds can be difficult due to its aggressive growth and resistance to many herbicides. To control, apply a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide as soon as the violets reach the two-leaf stage of growth.
There are different types of crabgrass you can be on the lookout for:
Large crabgrass is a bunching-type grass featuring seed head spikelets in two to nine fingerlike branches along the stalk.
Interestingly, white clover used to be a common ingredient in lawn seed blends. However, now it’s regarded as a common weed in your lawn. White clovers are a low-growing, creeping winter perennial with stems that root at nodes. The elliptical leaves are grouped in threes and usually have a light green or white band like a watermark, plus toothing on the edges. These weeds are most noticed for their white to pink-tinged flower clusters growing from the long stems that usually rise above the leaves. They actively grow in cooler temperatures with increased moisture and where soil is poor and low in nitrogen.
Annual bluegrass is an annual weed, just as the name suggests. It blends very well with fescue grasses due to its light green color. Its color, however, makes it stand out in dark green turf grasses and will typically form in clumps, so it’s easy to spot the culprit. Annual bluegrass seeds germinate in late summer as temperatures start falling below 70 degrees. It appears where overwatering occurs and/or there is poor draining soil. Since it produces most it its seed head in the spring, applying a pre-emergent herbicide prior to germination of the seedlings will prevent growth.
One of the best ways to identify lawn weeds is by looking closely at the soil in your landscape. Many common lawn weeds can be found growing in certain types of soil, making this an excellent way to identify specific types you may have growing in your landscape. Here are some of the most commonly seen weeds:
Knotweed: Knotweed is an annual weed, common along sidewalks. It usually thrives in dry, compacted soils. Knotweed forms a tough, wiry mat of stems and blue-green leaves with small white flowers. It is often confused with spurge, however, this weed does not produce a milky sap. It does produce numerous seeds, which can be reduced with annual aeration.
How to Identify Weed Types
Ragweed: Ragweed is commonly known by many allergy sufferers. This annual weed can be seen most often during summer (and autumn) months and recognized by its fern-like foliage.
Common nettle: This is prolific in soil that borders gardens and open fields. This perennial weed has many varieties, including stinging nettle. While it may look like an ordinary, hairy weed with attractive little flowers, it can cause a very painful sting if you touch it. Nettles can often be aggressive spreaders, with creeping roots.
White clover: White clover is a perennial weed that forms creeping runners and produces white, fluffy-looking blooms. Since this weed is a legume which fixes nitrogen, it is often found in lawns with low fertility. Adding nitrogen to the soil can help ease the population of clover.