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Common Winter Weeds in North Carolina Lawns and What To Do About Them

It’s a great frustration — the cold winter weather has made your lawn stop growing and you are glad you can ignore it for a while, but after a warm spell, weeds have started to pop up and you don’t know how they got there or how to get rid of them.

What are these winter weeds, anyway, and what can you do about them? In order to control these weeds, identification is a necessary step. Certain weeds have products that control them, but not all do. Selective materials will control most broadleaf weeds without harming your lawn.

Winter Annual Weeds Identification

Annual winter weeds begin germinating before winter, but they often emerge during the winter and can take over thin or bare areas by the time spring arrives. Among the most common winter weeds are annuals, which show up every year until they are properly treated.

These are some of the most bothersome winter annual weeds:

Henbit and Purple Deadnettle

Henbit and Purple Deadnettle, closely-related annual weeds, have circular, broad leaves with noticeable veins underneath them. Capable of growing more than a foot high, this weed has hairy, square stems and blossoms pink-purple flowers. They are among the most common winter weeds in North Carolina.

Common Chickweed & Mouse-Ear Chickweed

Also common in North Carolina, these weeds are marked by tiny white flowers, stay close to the ground and spread horizontally.

There are a few noticeable differences between the two chickweed types. For instance, common chickweed leaves produce stems, while mouse-ear chickweed stems don’t.


Like Chickweed, Speedwell is one of the winter annual weeds that stays low to the ground. Its higher leaves are narrow and elongated, while its lower leaves are rounder in comparison. This weed has small hairs all over it, but can perhaps be best identified by its small flowers, which are various shades of blue.

Hairy Bittercress

With 3-9 inch stems, hairy bittercress stays low to the ground. Its stems turn from purple-red near the root to green as they extend upward. This weed produces tiny white flowers that eventually transform into seedpods, and then shoots the seeds out at great distances.

Where Winter Weeds Come From

Like other plants, weeds produce seeds, and they are capable of traveling surprising distances. Some weeds and plants can drop hundreds of seeds nearby, and certain weeds even propel seeds up to 10 feet in the air. Wind gusts carry weed seeds across lawns, streets, fields, and parking lots.

If you or your neighbors already have a large number of weeds, those seeds are easily capable of producing more weeds. Additionally, if you have bare spots in your lawn or areas where grass is weak, you will be more susceptible to a weed infestation. The seeds of winter annual weeds germinate in the summer and fall.

Winter Weed Control

Taking a proactive approach and treating winter weeds in the growing season is more effective than attempting to treat them after winter has set in. Weeds don’t actively grow in the winter, so any controls used against them at that time wouldn’t be able to circulate throughout the plant in order to effectively control it.

Why Treating Outside of Winter is Better

Because weeds tend to grow in barren areas, one of the best things you can do to control winter weeds is to make sure you have a dense, healthy lawn year-round. You can achieve this by mowing your lawn regularly (and not too short), watering your lawn in times of drought, and fertilizing your lawn with proper nutrients throughout the year.

A year-long weed control program that utilizes both pre- and post-emergent products will help fight winter weeds and other weeds that appear during other times of the year. Lawn care companies typically treat for weeds between late March and late October for best results. On winter annual weeds specifically, early spring is one of the best times to treat.

Let Weed Man Treat Your Winter Weeds

When weeds start to actively grow in late March or April, a lawn care company can identify and control your winter weeds and apply a pre-emergent material that can even reduce some species of weeds that will appear later. A solid weed control program goes a long way in both treating perennial weeds and annual weeds, such as those pesky ones that show up in the winter.

If you are looking for a lawn care company to treat the winter weeds in your lawn, look no further than Weed Man. Our experts have a vast knowledge when it comes to weed control and use the highest-grade products on the market. We also provide aeration and overseeding services to thicken up weak spots that will be prone to more weeds. “Weed” control is in our name!

At Weed Man, we bring exceptional weed control to the Raleigh, NC area. Learn more about how Weed Man can help you achieve a greener and healthier lawn by requesting a free quote, or call us at 919-552-1515.