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10 common weeds in New England and removal tips

In New England, several types of weeds can invade your property. The first step to eradicating them is first being able to identify them.

Below, we have compiled a detailed New England weeds identification guide. It covers some of the most common types of weeds found in the area, how to identify them, and how to eradicate them.

The most common weeds you can find in the New England area include:

1. Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy
Image by: Flickr/Lana Pahl

Poison ivy is a weed plant that is part of the Sumac family. It is a common weed that is native to the New England region. It grows in several habitats – gardens, landscapes, lawns, roadsides, river banks, and woodland edges, among others – that have partial shade to full sun.

Furthermore, the plant is highly adaptive and can grow in various soil conditions, from moist to dry and impoverished soils.

Poison ivy weed is easily identified by its leaves; it has three leaflets, with the middle being more prominent than the other two.

When the plant matures, the leaves are dull to glossy green, turning reddish-green in spring and bright orange, red, or yellow in fall.

Another distinctive feature of poison ivy is the small, yellow-green flowers that sprout in spring. On top of that, the plant produces green berries, which turn light grey or whitish when they ripen.

When it comes to eradicating poison ivy, there are three techniques you can use, the first one being pulling the plant manually.

Secondly, homemade weed killers such as vinegar mixed with a dish soap solution can be effective.

Lastly, you can use chemical herbicides such as glyphosate, which can penetrate the entire plant to the root, killing it altogether.

2. Oxalis

Image by: Flickr/rinronmari

Oxalis or yellow woodsorrel is a perennial weed common in New England, especially in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Islands, and others.

It usually grows in gardens, waste areas, fields, landscape areas, and even lawns.

Oxalis is an upright-growing weed plant with slightly hairy stems. The stems have an alternate leaf arrangement, with smooth-edged, compound leaves that are green in colour.

The plant also produces five-petalled flowers, which can sprout in clusters. Oxalis is also known for its okra-shaped fruits, which split open when ripe.

You can control oxalis weed by pulling the plant if the invasion is widespread. You should, however, ensure that it does not produce fruit, as scattered seeds will germinate into new plants, worsening the infestation.

Another effective way of controlling oxalis is through chemical herbicides. Glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup are especially effective at killing the plant.

However, when the weed grows on lawns, you should use selective pre- and post-emergent chemical weed killers.

3. Dandelion

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to the Europe region but very common in North America, especially the New England area.

Some people consider them beneficial due to their attractive flowers that improve curb appeal while promoting pollination.

However, the plant develops a deep taproot system, which makes it extremely hard to eradicate once it establishes itself.

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You can identify the dandelion weed plant by its low-growing trait, with rosette leaves that grow directly from the base of the plant. It also has conspicuous yellow flowers, which grow on hollow stalks.

These flowers mature into seed heads with a fuzzy structure that holds the seeds, thus allowing them to be quickly scattered by the wind.

You can get rid of dandelions through a selection of techniques. The first one is pulling the weeds from the soil.

However, it would help if you only did this when the ground is wet to ensure you pull out the entire root system. Secondly, you can use natural weed killers such as vinegar or dish soap.

Chemical herbicides, however, are the most effective when it comes to killing dandelions.

You should target the weed plant when it is young before the seed heads develop and the plant starts scattering seeds.

It would be best to use a selective broadleaf herbicide, especially when dandelions grow on lawns.

4. Crabgrass

Crabgrass in lawn
Image: Yesim Sahin

Crabgrass is one of the most common lawn weeds in New England. It is native to Eurasia but has spread worldwide, including in North America.

The grass reproduces through seeds and tillering, with a single plant producing up to 150,000 seeds and 700 tillers. It is thus a very aggressive weed, which can be a nuisance to eradicate.

Crabgrass is a very distinctive weed, especially when growing on lawns. It is a fast-growing grassy weed that has coarse, yellowish-green leaves.

The leaves are large and grow from the stems before branching outwards. As the plant matures, the stems fall, creating a star-like pattern from the middle.

You can get rid of crabgrass by pulling it from the soil. You can do this using your hands, but it is advisable to use a digging tool to ensure you extract the entire plant.

Another way of controlling crabgrass is to keep your lawn healthy, thus preventing weeds from growing.

Lastly, you can use special chemical herbicides such as Tenacity for Turf to eradicate the weed.

5. Common ragweed

Common ragweed
Image by: Flickr/Stacey

Common ragweed (short ragweed) is an annual weed plant native to North America. You can find it throughout various New England areas such as Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

The weed plant usually grows in cultivated areas, roadsides, fields, and other disturbed soils. It is a highly invasive plant due to its prolific production of seeds, which help sprout new plants.

Common ragweed has fern-like, green, feathery leaves, with both lobed and teethed leaf blade edges. The leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern. The plant also produces long, green flowers that turn yellowish over time.

Ragweed is best eradicated using chemical herbicides. Post-emergent week killers such as 2,4,D are very effective at controlling the weed.

These herbicides are also selective, which makes them ideal when the plant has invaded areas with other beneficial plants.

However, if you are not worried about destroying other plants, you can use non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate.

6. Bittersweet

Image by: Flickr/Ross

Bittersweet (also known as oriental bittersweet) is an ornamental climbing vine native to Asia but a common sight in New England.

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The plant usually grows on roadsides, fields, woodland areas, and abandoned sites and properties. It blooms in the autumn and is loved by many people due to its attractive leaves, flowers, and fruits, which completely change the landscape.

However, it is also a highly invasive plant, which can be quite destructive to other beneficial plants in the area.

Oriental bittersweet has round leaves with toothed edges, which form an alternate pattern from the step. The leaves are bright green, and so are the stems.

However, the leaves start turning yellow as the plant matures and summer approaches. By autumn, the leaves achieve a distinctive bright yellow colour, with the stems turning reddish-brown.

The plant also sprouts tiny yellow flowers from where orange berries bloom.

Oriental bittersweet is one of New England’s most difficult weeds to control and eradicate. The best way to deal with the weed is to pull young plants before they mature and form thick bushes.

If the infestation is widespread, you can repeatedly cut down the plant near the ground. Alternatively, you can use systemic chemical herbicides to kill the plant completely.

7. Stinging nettle

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca)
Image: Twitter/Yaghiish

Stinging nettle (also known as common nettle or burn nettle) is a weed native to New England and other parts of North America and the world.

Historically, the plant was used as a source of food, beverage, medicine, and even raw material for textiles.

However, it is a highly invasive weed with a deep rhizome root system and stolons, which help it spread far and wide.

Stinging nettle is a tall-growing plant that can reach up to 2 meters high. It has soft, green leaves with serrated edges and an acute tip.

The leaves grow from upright green stems with several defensive stinging hairs. The plant blooms with small, greenish, or brownish flowers (which can sometimes be yellow if the flower is male).

You can try controlling the stinging nettle by pulling the plant from the ground. However, this is a massive task as you must uproot the entire plant – including the roots, or else it will produce new shoots.

On top of that, the stinging hairs on the leaves and stems make it difficult to handle. You need to use gardening gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid injuries.

A simpler alternative is systemic herbicides such as glyphosate, which can penetrate the entire plant from the leaves to the roots, killing it completely.

8. Herb Robert

Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Image by: Flickr/Alison

Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) is a weed plant native to Europe but pretty common in the North American region, specifically in New England. It is a flowering plant that usually grows in woodland areas, grasslands, hedgerows, and coastal areas.

Herb Robert is a tall growing plant which can reach up to 50 cm high. It has reddish, hairy stems and dark green, palmate leaves that are deeply dissected.

The plant produces small, bright pink flowers, which form a star-like pattern with their petals.

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Herb Robert has a shallow root structure; thus, you can easily control it by pulling the plants out of the soil.

However, you should do so before the plant matures and produces seeds, as it can release several seeds leading to widespread infestation.

You can use systemic weed killers such as glyphosate if you prefer chemical herbicides. However, due to its non-selective nature, you should only spot and treat weeds when growing in areas with beneficial vegetation.

9. White clover

White Clover
Image: Amazon

White clover is a perennial broadleaf plant native to Europe but widespread in North America, including New England. It commonly grows in lawns, gardens, landscapes, and other areas with partial shade.

You can identify white clover by its leaves and flowers. It has trifoliate lobed leaves, which form at the top of smooth branching stems.

During the flowering season, the plant produces small, white flowers (sometimes purplish), which bloom in clusters.

You can control white clover through cultural techniques such as mulching your gardens and keeping your lawn healthy and strong.

You can also pull the weed plants from the ground by where they start to sprout. Another technique is using chemical herbicides such as dicamba and fluroxypyr, which are very effective at eradicating the plant.

10. Ground elder

Ground elder
Image by: Flickr/Marijke

Ground elder is a fast-growing perennial plant native to Europe but widespread throughout North America. It is usually found in gardens, growing beds, lawns (especially new ones), and borders.

It is an aggressive plant that can spread quickly using its rhizome root system, thus overwhelming other vegetation.

Ground elder usually sprouts from rhizomes and starts growing as small shoots with dark green leaves in late spring and early summer.

The shoots soon develop into tall stalks, from where variegated leaves form. Numerous flower heads bloom at the top of these stalks, creating an umbrella-like pattern. These flowers are similar to the elder plant, hence the weed’s name.

Ground elder is hard to eradicate once it establishes itself, as new plants will sprout from even the smallest rhizomes.

You can try pulling young plants out of the soil by hand and consistently monitoring the area for new shoots.

However, the best way to control the plant is using herbicides, particularly systemic herbicides such as glyphosate, that can kill the entire plant structure.


Are you looking to identify weeds in the New England area? The above are some of the most common weed plants in the region.

Most are very aggressive, which can be a nightmare to get rid of once they establish themselves.

However, with the above information, you can find out the weeds you are dealing with and deploy appropriate measures to eradicate them.