Weeds You Can Eliminate Over Winter

On the nicest winter days, it’s easy to get the itch to get ahead on spring weeding. Indeed, there is a lot you can do in winter to get a jump on spring outdoor chores.

Invasive trees

Invasive trees like glossy buckthorn, Tatarian and Amur honeysuckle or black locust can be identified in summer and tagged with fluorescent spray paint or flagging tape. In winter, using a pruner saw, cut the trunk as close to the ground as possible and paint it with Triclopyr or other undiluted brush-killing herbicide. Very small saplings can be handpulled. Cut branches can be used as firewood.


Chickweed is a low growing mat of green leaves with tiny white, star-shaped flowers that unfortunately bares more seeds than any one gardener can bear. Although they are annuals, and shallow-rooted and easy to pull or hoe, each touch releases hundreds of seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for up to 25 years. The best course of action is to pull them in the winter, as they bloom very early in spring and are often well on their way to global domination by the time you’re ready for spring chores.


Like chickweed, annual bluegrass also blooms and sets seed very early in the spring and produces enough seeds to be considered a real problem. Annual bluegrass likes cold weather and short daylight hours so it can outcompete desirable turf species. It also doesn’t care for hot summer temperatures and tends to look bad in August lawns. Good turf grass practices help to eliminate annual bluegrass; raise your mowing deck height as high as it will go, deeply watering your turf grass infrequently, and relieve compacted soils with core-aeration to help your yard look great and beat back this winter weed.


Unlike chickweed and annual bluegrass, dandelions are perennial. Like the others though, stopping them from setting more seeds is the objective. Dandelions are early spring bloomers, anything you can do to stop them from going to seed will help you win the war. During winter, dandelions are flat rosettes of leaves, just waiting to leap into action. You can hand pull these anytime the ground isn’t too frozen; a weeding knife can also come in handy. Spraying herbicide is another option, but it should be done in late fall.