What Weed Is This? Southern Ontario’s Most Pesky Plants

Did you know that every square foot of your garden has weed seeds sitting below the soil? Yep. But only the lucky few, in the top inch of the ground, can suck up enough light to germinate 🌞

When they do, you need to be ready. So, what weeds are most popular in Southern Ontario, and how do you get rid of them? Let’s get started.

Dandelions: Root ‘Em Out

Who: Recognizable by its yellow flower head, the dandelion is a familiar perennial weed on most lawns in Southern Ontario. Whether you view the simple dandelion as a trendy addition to your salad or a gardening nuisance, there will be a time when you need to remove some 🌻

Where: They love suburban lawns, flower gardens, highway ditches, and fields of grass—Timbit soccer goalies love to chat and pass the time with them.

How to remove: They are difficult to eradicate completely, and there really is no substitute for manually removing the entire plant (it may grow back if you leave any root behind). We recommend physically weeding by hand, then overseeding to crowd out this pest for next year.

Chickweed: Cut Regularly

Who: There’s Common Chickweed, and then there’s Common Mouse-Ear Chickweed. The Mouse-Ear variety 🐭 is the one that you need to worry about.

Where: Warmer winters, combined with a wet spring, is precisely what cool-season weeds like Chickweed need to germinate. And just in case you’ve been under a rock for the past decade, you’ve noticed that we’re experiencing more of these seasonal weather patterns here in Hamilton each year.

How to remove: Chickweed creeps and doesn’t root very deeply. So, before you reach for a chemical solution, try raking your lawn with a medium grade rake to lift the roots out of the soil. You might have to give it a few rounds to get it all out and keep an eye to see if it starts to grow back. Also, regular lawn maintenance will work wonders — mow your lawn frequently and these little guys won’t stand a chance.

Canadian Thistle: A Prickly Haircut

Who: It goes by many names.  Introduced into North America in the 1600s, Canadian thistle, creeping thistle or field thistle, is an invasive species that spreads aggressively and grows like… you got it, a weed.

Where: Thistle will grow just about anywhere. They flourish in exposed, low-quality soil areas, during wet seasons. Their knack for surviving in any habitat makes them challenging to get completely get rid of.

How to remove: Use your razor-sharp eye and an even sharper set of garden shears ✂️. Feel for the base of the plant and cut the thistle at their base. Warning: Don’t pull this prickly plant out, or you might split the root and cause it to grow back x2!

Looking to Weed Out a Different Culprit?

Although not a Canadian reference, the University of Minnesota does have a useful tool to identify some of our native weeds. Use its “Is This Plant a Weed?” tool to click through a chain of photos in order to eventually ID the plant you see in your lawn. We’ve officially gamified weeding. What a world 😊