Gardening Basics: Identifying Weeds in Your Garden

Not sure how to tell the good from the bad when identifying weeds in your garden? We'll help you figure out whether you should pull it up or let it grow.

“Is this a weed or a flower?”

I’ve been in the gardening and horticulture business for more than three decades, and it’s still one of the most common questions I get year after year. In fact, gardeners probably bring me a few hundred “gifts” each spring in the form of mystery leaves, flowers and plants.

The truth is, we’ve all faced the dilemma of identifying weeds in your garden at some point. When plants start sprouting in spring, all those tiny leaves seem to look the same. I don’t know any gardener (myself included) who hasn’t grown a few weeds or accidentally weeded out a few desirable plants.

So I’m here to help. Hopefully I can at least point you in the right direction when it comes to recognizing common backyard weeds. That will let you focus on your treasured garden plants instead.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common weeds in North America. If you can learn to recognize these, you’ll be well on your way toward eliminating most of the unwelcome visitors in your yard.



Teasel comes to mind right away. This thistle look-alike, brought to North America in the 1700s for processing wool, has spread into natural spaces. Its prickly stems and leaves make it undesirable to both wildlife and agriculture, so if you find it in your backyard, you’ll want to eliminate it.

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