What are Little White Flowers in Lawn?
Weeds are a real headache for a homeowner who desires a lush green lawn in their yard.
Moreover, if the weeds grow white flowers that stick out against the lush green background of the lawn, they are literally eyesores for proud homeowners. So, is there any solution to this problem? Let’s see.
Published: December 15, 2022.
What is Weed?
Theoretically speaking, a weed is any plant that grows where it shouldn’t grow. That way, even a rose plant can be a weed if it’s unwanted in a place. However, people normally think of weeds as plants that spread quickly and are hard to get rid of once set in.
If a homeowner needs to get rid of weeds, they should first identify them. Fortunately, the list of flowering weeds is short. Here are some common weeds with white flowers and how to remove them.
How to Identify Weeds with White Flowers on the Lawn?
Weeds with white flowers are extremely diverse. The gardener will have to look beyond just the flower color to identify the weeds afflicting their lawn.
To identify a plant, one has to pay attention to some other traits like its overall size, growth pattern, leaf type, etc. it’s also recommended to take note of the shape of the flower to help narrow down one’s search.
Although there are numerous weeds that fit in a general description, only a few mostly infest lawns. One can start by comparing the flowering weeds growing in their lawn to the species given below.
Due to their beauty, daisies are easily forgotten to be counted as weeds. Following are some daisy look-alikes that can appear on home lawns without an invitation.
Bellis perennis: Commonly called the English, lawn, or common daisy, Bellis perennis is the biggest bummer. They can propagate via rhizome, and they also produce seeds making them difficult to control. Moreover, its leaves grow low and choke out the surrounding lawn grass.
Native to Asia, Europe, and North America, this daisy has naturalized in much of the world. Its reputation ranges from desirable flowers to annoying weeds. If one is based in the UK or northwestern USA, they probably consider it as the latter.
The easiest method to identify B. perennis is to observe its distinctive white flowers that grow 1 to 2 inches tall and have a yellow center. Since these daisies spread via rhizomes, one often sees dense clumps of flowers growing together. This plant has very weak roots and can easily be pulled out with a daisy grubber. A post-emergent herbicide can help control future outbreaks.
Leucanthemum vulgare: This plant is commonly called oxeye daisy and is an aggressive weed. While it’s native to Europe, it’s widespread across North America and areas with similar climates.
The difference between oxeye and English daisies is quite easy to identify when they attain maturity. Oxeye daisies grow up to 3 feet tall and spread via their root systems. The University of Minnesota suggests that one can also identify an oxeye daisy by looking for spoon-shaped lobed leaves.
Erigeron strigosus: Commonly called daisy fleabane, this is not a true daisy (but is a close relative). Although it’s native to North America, those who want a 100% grass lawn call it a weed.
Daisy fleabane grows quite tall when left alone, reaching even up to 5 feet in height. The stem and leaves feature small hairs. However, its white flowers are almost indistinguishable from true daisies.
Cerastium fontanum: Widely known as Common Mouse Ear, this is a common lawn weed native to Europe. It invades lawns in many parts of the world, including the UK and North America, and usually occurs in meadows and grasslands.
This plant is a spreading perennial that grows very low to the ground and can be easily identified by its tiny white flowers that each feature five petals.
Daucus carota: Commonly called wild carrot and native to Europe and has naturalized through much of the world. It’s also called Queen Anne’s Lace because of its white, umbrella-like flower clusters that emerge in its second year.
Due to their invasive nature, wild carrots are prohibited from planting or propagating in several areas. Gardeners have to be careful while removing this plant because its sap can cause skin irritation. It should also be noted that wild carrot is virtually identical to poison hemlock, which is extremely toxic.
Cardamine hirsuta: Also known as hairy bittercress, this is a meek weed that often pops up in late winter or spring.
From a distance, it looks similar to a dandelion before it blooms by late spring. But if one takes a closer look, the stems show alternating leaves. Long seed pods develop by summer, which, when burst, send hundreds of seeds in all directions. The plants have long taproots and re-emerge if not completely eradicated.
Although hairy bittercress is native to the British Isles, it’s usually considered a weed by homeowners and gardeners. Some people forage this plant for use as a pungent salad green.
Pennsylvania State University suggests that hairy bittercress is a widespread problem in North America, where it has naturalized.
It’s best identified and removed in early spring before the emergence of other plants. This is a ground weed that grows low and spreads fast. It features round leaves in sets of three. Small white flowers emerge by May between leaves, and the taproot becomes thicker.
Because of its long taproot and heavy seed production, it’s hard to remove this weed.
Viola odorata: Commonly called wild violet, this is a lovely spring perennial native to Asia and Europe. In its native area, it’s considered a popular ornamental due to its beauty. However, unfortunately, it’s quite vigorous and can quickly take over native habitats.
Several people mistakenly believe that all violets bear purple flowers. However, the fact is that wild violet comes in several colors, including yellow and white.
Trifolium repens: Commonly known as white clover, Trifolium repens is one of the most common flowering weeds that emerge in many turfs. This particular clover species is native to the entire Europe, including the British Isles, but is fully naturalized in North America and similar climates.
Whether white clover is a weed or not is a debatable topic. Many people personally love its look and feel as a turf grass alternative. However, those who love an all-grass lawn will consider this plant as a problem.
Clemson University observes that white clover flourishes in non-fertile soil. If one’s lawn is taken over by this plant, it may be an indication that the soil needs fertilization.
Note: A sudden outbreak of white clover on a lawn is usually a sign of nitrogen deficiency. While clover thrives when there is little nitrogen in the soil, the turf grass suffers. If one notices an unusual amount of white clover in their lawn, they should conduct a soil test.
Note: Mowing won’t kill clover. Actually, clover recovers better from being cut than most turf grasses. So, the gardener should be careful mowing their lawn too short while trying to control weeds.
Urtica dioica: Known as stinging nettle, this plant grows in neglected and compacted soil along the edge of the property. It spreads fast by nettle (burred seed) and develops underground stems. Brushing these plants with one’s skin can cause burning and stinging pain.
This plant can be easily identified by its long bristly stems and stinging hairs on its leaves. The upper leaves produce drooping white flowers.
The best way to remove nettles is to continue cutting them back until they die off. Once they die out, one can pull the whole root and rhizome out to stop them from spreading. As a chemical control, one should apply a non-selective herbicide which is most effective from spring to fall.
Stellaria media: Commonly known as Chickweed, this plant with white flowers occurs most commonly in overwatered lawns. It grows fast in a matting pattern that can choke out lawns. This is a cold-loving annual and also a notorious carrier of plant pests and viruses that could damage a lawn even more.
To identify chickweed, one should look for small white flowers that bloom in spring. They grow as a single flower or in clusters at the end of the stem. The leaves are hairy at the plant’s bottom and become hairless at the top.
The roots of chickweed grow very shallowly. The white flowers also grow very low. If one is dealing with a small patch, they can pull them by hand. For a larger patch, one can apply a broadleaf herbicide.
Achillea millefolium: Commonly known as yarrow, this plant occurs commonly in yards that get stressed by drought and are under-fertilized. If situations of the soil are such and yarrow occurs, it can take over and choke out one’s turf. This is a mat-forming weed and spreads via rhizome stems that root at intervals.
This weed with little white flowers can best be recognized by its fern-like leaves. It can grow up to 3 feet high and blooms from late May to summer. It features green/grey leaves and thick roots.
Yarrow is difficult to control and is resistant to selective herbicides. The best way to control it is by watering and fertilizing one’s lawn. Applying non-selective herbicides repeatedly can weaken this plant. One should top dress early in the spring to choke out any remaining yarrow.
Anthemis cotula: Commonly known as Mayweed, Anthemis cotula is a common lawn weed that tends to grow in open spaces and blooms annually. It spreads rapidly by seed and grows very quickly too. It can cause skin irritation if touched and is poisonous to animals. Therefore, it should be removed immediately.
Although Mayweed flowers resemble a daisy, that’s the only point of similarity. The leaves are different, more fern-like, and look like a fennel or chamomile plant. Mayweed grows to around 2 feet and gives out an unpleasant odor.
Small areas infested by mayweed can be hand-pulled. The gardener should wear gloves and use a daisy grubber as the leaves cause skin irritation. For larger areas, one should use a herbicide, but one should make sure to dispose of the waste correctly, so it’s inaccessible to animals.
Sagina procumbens: This is commonly called pearlwort and can infest the lawn if it’s cut too short.
This is a creeping plant and can be mistaken for moss. It loves cool, moist spaces which it populates to produce seeds quickly. Its leaves are narrow.
This weed with tiny white flowers grows close to the ground in a matting pattern. It grows to around 4 inches in height. Its roots are fine, and it has several branches which support the white flowers. They produce hundreds of seeds that get spread easily when walked on or mowed. It can quickly overtake the turf.
The best way to manage this weed is to grow a dense lawn. Regular irrigation and fertilization will deter pearlwort from infesting a lawn. If a homeowner has it in their yard and is already out of control, they can use a herbicide that is absorbed through the plant’s leaves. This will deteriorate it and enable the lawn to take hold again.
Erigeron speciosus: Commonly called Aspen, Garden, or Showy Fleabane, this plant establishes deep taproots and spreads by seed. They thrive in open sunny spaces and can outcompete lawns in poor-quality soil.
Fleabanes resemble miniature daisies. They develop multiple stems, each of which grows a tiny white flower with a yellow center. Their stalks grow tiny hairs. The flowers bloom once in summer and can also bloom in fall again.
Gardeners can control it by hand-pulling early in the spring.
However, if the gardener allows the fibrous roots to turn into a hard taproot, this weed becomes much harder to remove. In that case, one has to apply a non-selective herbicide. They have tiny white flowers and are not as invasive as other lawn weeds.
Hence, one can leave them alone if they are not in a visible area.
Wild Onion & Wild Garlic: These plants resemble a lot to tall grass. However, as one gets closer to them, one can notice the distinctive smell of these plants, which is especially strong right after one mows the grass.
These plants are dormant in the summer and grow in early spring and late fall. They grow very quickly and soon tower above one’s lawn grass, growing in conspicuous clumps.
When they bloom in late spring, one can see clusters of white flowers hanging from stalks.
The best way to prevent them from growing is to keep one’s lawn dense and healthy, which prevents these plants from establishing.
However, it’s not hard to remove them by hand. But pulling them out is not advisable because the bulb might break off, thus allowing the plant to regrow. Instead, one should use a trowel or spade to dig underneath and lift it out. Digging 6 inches deep is often sufficient to do the job.
Another effective option is to use post-emergent selective weed killers.
Garlic Mustard: Garlic mustard is a cool season biennial herb and is one of the most invasive lawn weeds with tiny white flowers, and it spreads fast.
It grows around 3-4 feet tall when fully mature. It’s identifiable by its heart-shaped leaves with toothy edges. Its small white flowers have 4 petals.
An easy way to confirm its garlic mustard is to crush a leaf between one’s fingers. Its smell is strong and is like garlic and onion.
If one sees garlic mustard on their lawn, they should try to control it on a priority basis. Each plant produces hundreds of seeds which help it spread easily. Moreover, the seeds can survive in the soil for around 5 years. So, it will keep coming for years after years even if the gardener first clears an area.
One can hand-pull it if the invasion is small. It’s easier when the soil is damp. But it has a long taproot that can grow more plants. Hence one should try to do it while the plant is still younger, before it flowers, removing as much root as one can. One should also keep watching the pulled sites to check if it sprouts from broken root fragments.
For larger invasions, one should use the best lawn weed killer in the early spring before the plants flower. Another ideal time is late fall.
Tall Fescue: Tall fescue is a cool season grass that’s popularly grown as lawn grass in many parts of the United States.
However, if one is growing a different type of grass in their lawn, they will probably consider this as an invasive perennial weed if it abruptly emerges.
Eradicating Flowering Weeds without Damaging Lawn Grass
The safest method of removing lawn weeds is by hand-pulling. However, it’s not always practically possible.
Wearing gloves and using a narrow digging tool to pull weeds with taproots is recommended to protect one’s hands. Experts suggest that the sweet spot for pulling weeds is when they are mature enough to identify but not yet fully established.
Weeds that cannot be pulled or cover a larger area probably are best controlled with herbicides. However, using chemical herbicides without first doing some research is not recommendable.
Most herbicides are classified as pre- and post-emergent. Pre-emergent herbicides are applied directly to the soil and prevent seed germination. Thus, they prevent future weeds from growing but don’t kill existing ones.
To kill mature weeds in one’s lawn, one’ll have to use a post-emergent herbicide. But they’ll have to make sure to choose a selective herbicide that is labeled as safe for their grass species. Non-selective herbicides kill all plants they come in contact with, including turf grasses.
Fertilizing one’s lawn as required can discourage the growth of weeds that prefer poor soil conditions. Moreover, regular fertilization encourages strong, healthy lawn growth both above and below the soil. This, in turn, leaves less room for weeds to grow.
Some granular fertilizers include pre-emergent herbicides. So, the gardener can do two chores simultaneously.
Ideal Time to Remove Weeds with Flowers
Actually, timing is very important when it comes to controlling flowering weeds. If one removes flowering weeds before they go to seed, they’ll also prevent the next generation of weeds from invading their lawn. (This final step is important to control next year’s weed population).
If the weeds are particularly aggressive, the earlier it’s removed, the better. Post-emergent herbicides can be used as long as there is active growth. If one chooses to hand-pull weeds, it’ll be easier for them to remove young weeds that are yet to grow strong root systems.
Preventing Weeds in Lawns
Maintaining healthy lawn grass is one of the best ways one can use to prevent weeds in their lawn. A healthy lawn will grow dense enough to cause weeds to struggle to break through. One should select a grass variety that is well-suited to their property and overseed as required to repair thin or bare patches.
Regular mowing will make a big difference in the number of weeds that manage to go to seed. Even a simple step to get the mower early just to cut down weed flowers growing above the grass is easy to neglect since it’s all about preventing, but it can surely make a noticeable difference after a couple of seasons.
Lastly, pre-emergent herbicides can work wonders on many common lawn weeds. But one should make sure to select a formula that targets the weeds most commonly occurring in their yard. In most climates, it’s recommended to apply a pre-emergent herbicide twice a year for maximum control.