Shepherd’s purse, chickweed and white clover are common weeds that thrive in bare spots or weak, unhealthy lawns. However, they are easy weeds to control.

Sheperd’s purse
Shepherd’s purse flowers
Photo courtesy Purdue University

Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)is one of those plants that meets the definition of a weed — a plant out of place. That’s because in some cultures shepherd’s purse is an edible stir-fry crop or it is used in herbal medicines to stop bleeding.

However, for most of us, this weed, a European native plant, is a pest in the landscape. The surface of the medium green leaves has tiny bumps. Some of the leaves are indented, but not all. The flower stem erupts from the center of the low-growing leaves, called a rosette. The flowers hang loosely along the stem, which may reach 20 inches tall.

common chickweed
Common chickweed
Photo courtesy Virginia Tech University

Common chickweed (Stellaria media)Birds eat the seeds and leaves of chickweed, giving the plant its common name. A white, star-shaped flower gives chickweed its scientific name, Stellaria media.

Chickweed is a shallow-rooted, low-growing plant that roots to the ground at nodes, spreading to 18-inches wide. It can take hold in bare spots in the lawn or areas where the grass is thin or weak. The foliage is medium green and succulent.

A winter annual, common chickweed produces many seeds, which can germinate from fall into spring. In summer, you may see it growing in cool, moist, shady areas.

white clover
White clover
Photo courtesy Purdue University

White clover (Trifolium repens) is a cool-season perennial that grows in lawns and landscapes throughout the United States. It has three-leaves, usually with a green or white ‘V’ marking at their base. It blooms periodically throughout summer with white, globe like flowers that bees and other pollinating insects like.

White clover usually spreads by seeds, but it can spread by rooting at nodes along the ground. It prefers areas that are moist and infertile. There’s also red clover (Trifolium pratense), which has larger foliage than the white clover; its flower is a large, purple or red globe.

Sometimes, white clover is confused with black medic or yellow wood sorrel.

black medic
Black medic

Black medic (Medicago lupulina) has three leaves, with the center one longer than the two side leaves. A cool-season annual, it has a yellow, ball-like flower in late spring and early summer. Its seeds are black.

yellow sorrell
Yellow sorrell

Yellow wood sorrell (Oxalis stricta) also has three leaves, but they are heart shaped and frequently folded or creased along the midvein. It has a yellow daisy-like flower that blooms all summer. Its seeds are long, slender and pointed.

There are two ways to control these weeds and more than 200 others:

  • By applying a pre-emergent in spring and/or fall.
  • By applying an herbicide to growing plants.

You can control sheperd’s purse, common chickweed and white clover all season with one application of GreenView Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed & Feed and Crabgrass Preventer. It works to prevent many seeds from sprouting while it controls existing weeds in the lawn.