Green Side Up

Garden talk with Gazette community blogger Janice Peterson.

Janice Peterson: The top 10 worst weeds in Wisconsin

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Janice Peterson
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

If you're ever at a party with gardeners and you want a conversation starter just ask what they think is the worst weed. That will get the conversation going! It seems every gardener has one weed that is their personal nemesis. Here is my own list of the top ten worst weeds, in reverse order:


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This perennial grows long rhizomes and needs to be repeatedly pulled, and the spiny leaves can really hurt!


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This mint family perennial is often a curse in lawns. Removal usually requires herbicides.


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It creeps, it climbs, and it roots where the nodes touch soil. Its long vines (up to 50 feet long!) easily spread through a wooded area.


Phillip Sylvester, University of Delaware

This prolific re-seeder is easy to remove by hand but can quickly overtake an open area.


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These totally annoying weeds produce Velcro-like seeds that stick to clothing. Your socks will never be the same again once you run into a patch of these.


UMass Amherst

A prolific re-seeder! The seeds don't need a dormancy period, allowing it to cycle through many generations in one season. It also forms a formidable root mass so hand-pulling removes large amounts of soil.


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Resembling a prostrate jade plant, this weed not only re-seeds but also can grow a new plant from any leaf, stem or root fragment left in soil. On the plus side, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acid than any leafy vegetable and is delicious.


Chris Evans, University of Georgia

A noxious weed in Wisconsin, this biennial has a nasty habit of replacing quality woodland flowers. It was brought to this country as an edible, so please eat it up!


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A perennial grass-like weed that forms hundreds or even thousands of underground tubers or “nuts”. Anytime the soil is moved these will tag along. Few herbicides are effective against nutsedge and it takes repeated pulling to control.

And finally (drumroll please) my number one worst weed:


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You will never get rid of bindweed. It has roots that grow up to 27 feet deep. It develops six foot long vines that grow up desirable plants and shades them out. Bindweed is my personal weed nemesis!

Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.

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