Identifying Common Garden Weeds in the UK

Nothing can be more annoying for gardeners than weeds. With dozens of different species invading gardens up and down the UK, it can be quite hard to identify certain weeds simply because there are so many of them.

Additionally, there aren’t many widespread guides showcasing the various species of garden weeds that populate gardens throughout Britain. There’s certainly guides on how to deal with many types of weeds, but often it’s easier said than done when you cannot tell what is exactly a weed!

Better still, knowing what weeds are common in your garden can make dealing with them that bit easier, as you can know exactly what types of weeds you have and the best course of action for dealing with these specific types.

Remember, different weeds will grow in different areas of the country, so there’s no guarantee that these will appear in your own garden.

Aquilegia

Aquilegia weed

A self-seeding weed, aquilegia is quite common throughout gardens, most noted for its bright flowers and strong roots. As a result, many opt to leave it be until after it has blooms, which occurs early and before the rest of the weed fully grows.

Strong roots do make this annual weed quite tough to pull out however.

Bindweed

bindweed

A perennial vine, this weed is often identified by its large vine roots that can spread wildly when left unchecked. Bindweed features plenty of foliage with arrow-shaped leaves, with small flowers in either white or light pink that resemble morning glory.

Should be relatively easy to remove, but due to their long, thin vines, they are often tangled amongst other plants.

Bluebell

bluebell

While very attractive, especially when found in forest areas, bluebells can quietly become a nuisance weed for many gardeners. This is mainly due to the fact they grow in large, uncontrollable clumps that can prevent other plants from growing.

When the flowers are in bloom they are quite easy to identify, with the blue bell-shaped flowers that the plant is named after easy to spot.

They can be easy-enough to dig up, although this becomes more difficult when clumped together in large groups, with the roots featuring white bulbs.

Bramble

bramble

A tough weed that comes in hundreds of varieties, brambles can be rather annoying weeds as they have deep roots that require digging to remove. They also spread fast and wide and suck nutrients from deep in the soil, which makes weeding them out the bit more difficult.

A prickly shrub with thorny stems, brambles produce wild berries, typically a blackberry-type fruit.

Buddleia

Buddleia

Otherwise known as a butterfly bush, this common flowering plant is widespread throughout roadsides and railways but can often invade gardens too. Their seeds spread at incredible rates, often resulting in large, unwanted clumps of weeds.

Shrubs can vary in size and there’s various flower colours as well, although they typically emerge in purple hues. The foliage is long and a dark green colour, and can usually be identified by their serrated edge.

Cats Ear

Cats Ear

A perennial weed that is the scourge of many garden lawns and perhaps the most common lawn weed in the entire UK, they are noted for their close resemblance to dandelions, often being referred to as the false dandelion.

They can withstand mowing and have thick, tough roots that can be difficult to remove. Best dealt with by using herbicides to reduce future growth.

Celandine

lesser celandine

Also known as lesser celandine, this perennial herb features dark green heart-shaped leaves and thin, long stocks. Produces a small shiny yellow flower that is almost star-shaped, usually producing around at dozen petals when flowering from January to April.

Although they are great for attracting bees, their foliage often overgrows and takes away from the attractive yellow flowers, which is why many opt to remove them.

Chickweed

A hardy annual, the diminutive chickweed is found in many locations, but does prefer fertile soil with ample moisture. Thankfully, this makes them easy enough to remove.

Features thin stems with fine hairs, while the dark green leaves can be dense or sparse depending on the environment. Bulbs at the top of the weed produce a small white flower.

Creeping Cinquefoil

Creeping Cinquefoil

Another very widespread weed throughout the country, this perennial can be found on lawns and turfs, typically on those that have not been maintained in some time. They are deemed attractive when out in the wild, but in a garden, they can often become quite invasive so are viewed as a nuisance in most gardens.

Their leaves make them easy to identify, featuring five lobes that are almost strawberry-shaped. This is made easier still by their vibrant yellow flowers.

Creeping Buttercup

Creeping Buttercup

This is one of the most common garden weeds across the country, which makes a lot of sense when you find out that creeping buttercups love wet soil!

They are a very annoying weed however, as they can spread uncontrollably and produce massive networks of deep roots, runners, and shoots.

Due to their commonness, their bring-yellow flowers make them easily recognisable when in bloom around May to September. Their coarse foliage does detract from this however, meaning you may want to dig them out with a trowel, though this will need to be done frequently over the summer to ensure complete removal.

Daisy

daisy weed

Common daisies are among the most instantly recognisable weeds in Britain thanks to their striking flowers. These feature white, fleshy leaves and bring-yellow centre, although the leaves often come with a subtle pink hue around the edge.

They grow almost anywhere in a garden, although are typically found on garden lawns. The foliage forms a rosette at the base of the plant, with the leaves usually being spoon-shaped.

Dandelion

Dandelion weed

Dandelion Weed

Easily one of the most infamous weeds in the country, the dandelion is a widespread perennial weed that features a noticeably tough taproot, making them rather troublesome to remove.

The leaves forming at the base of the plant form rosette that helps to make them so distinguishable, as does the colourful yellow flower head, which usually remain open during the day and close at night.

Try removing the heads before seeding to reduce further spreading, while herbicides are best used to kill off dandelions on lawns.

Doves-Foot Cranesbill

Doves-Foot Cranesbill

This annual weed loves to grow on garden lawns, which is where they are most typically found throughout the UK, although they do prefer drier lawns in general.

Growing up to 30cm in size in, they can be identified by their small yet attractive pink flowers, which appear in late spring and throughout summer. Their leaves are rounded with a small divide down the middle of the foliage, resulting in around 5-8 lobes.

Fat-Hen

Fat Hen Weed

An annual broad-leaved weed, fat-hen grows during the summer months and is present in most areas of the UK, although it may be less common in north and eastern areas of the country.

Their ability to spread incredible numbers of seeds means they can quickly become a problem in many gardens, especially when left unchecked. They love open ground, making them quite problematic for borders and vegetable beds, stealing vital nutrients from other plants.

Thankfully, there are rather simple to weed by hand, more so if done as seedlings, but covering them with mulch can also to the trick. A key strategy is to remove fat-hens before they flower and can spread seeds.

Germander Speedwell

Germander Speedwell

A perennial weed that can be found in almost any climate in the country, speedwells produce an attractive blue flower that can look fantastic in some setting, yet their tendency to form roots quickly means they can spread wildly on borders and lawns.

They are low-growing weeds that feature long-stemmed blue flowers, although this variation of the plant can often have more coarse foliage. Tends to be problematic in lawns with low-maintenance, but can remain troublesome even in close-mowed lawns.

Ribwort Plantain

Ribwort Plantain

A Ribwort Plantain is noted for its spearhead-shaped leaves and oval-shaped flowers. Their stems are thin as are the leaves, which also form a rosette at the base, with the weed commonly found in garden laws throughout most of the year.

While easy enough to remove, eradicating the entire weed is another question and can be rather difficult to achieve. Frequent weeding can work, though this can result in a lot of damage to your lawn, so you may want to invest in a specific herbicide designed for ribwort plantain.

Yarrow

Yarrow

A hardy perennial known for their flat topped white flower heads, yarrows are found on most lawns in the UK. Not too unlike a fern in appearance, yarrow leaves are very fine.

The flower-heads clusters together with both yellow and white florets, resulting in an appearance that looks like white petals with a yellow centre from afar. Flowers from April to as late as October, and a single plant can produce as many as 1,000 seeds.

Their roots can go deep and are able to withstand droughts, making them a very durable weed if left unchecked.


Weeds are defintely a problem for many gardeners and keeping them under control with the best weed killers and general weeding duties is always an ongoing process.

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