Anyone who has ever had to fight weed species in their own garden knows how difficult it is. However, there are good weeds as well as those that cover the ground altogether and leave no room for the planted plants.

weed definition

The word weed already shows that these are annoying plants that spread in the garden. But the name is actually wrong, because in most cases weeds are wild herbs which, if used correctly, even help with diseases and also give some dishes a tasty touch in the kitchen. Weeds or wild herbs have the following properties and are therefore often particularly annoying in cultivated garden beds:

  • apparently indestructible
  • form underground rhizomes
  • can spread by seed
  • withstand large weather fluctuations
  • are often hardy
  • often prefer very sunny locations
  • grow on rocky soil or sand
  • are important food for various insects
  • sometimes good fertilizer too
  • are also important for the ecosystem


Most weeds that reproduce by seed are annuals. Again, there are many ground-covering species that will quickly spread across a lawn or garden bed. The following list shows ground-covering weeds that are re-propagated by seed every year.

Thread speedwell (Veronica filiformis)

  • originally from Eastern Europe and Western Asia
  • was cultivated here as an ornamental plant
  • long shoots grow above ground
  • perennial
  • Flowers only in spring
  • often grows on colorful flower meadows

Yellow-throated Dipper (Galinsoga parviflora)

  • also small-flowered buttonhead
  • perpetual bloomer
  • already young, small herb flowers
  • spread the seeds all over the bed
  • only annual
  • disappears with the first frost
  • Seeds stay in the ground
  • hibernate
  • sprout again next spring

Gundermann (Glechoma hederacea)

  • also known as gooseberry
  • is also often used as a culinary herb
  • can be confused with crawling bugle
  • small blue flowers
  • ground covering creeping weed
  • flowering in spring
  • prefers moist meadows
  • also grows on stones and walls

Hirtentäschel (Capsella)

  • also known as shepherd’s purse
  • Leaves are reminiscent of dandelion
  • one to two years old
  • prefers nutritious soil
  • sunny location
  • can root up to a meter deep
  • blooms all year round
  • Pods are strikingly shaped
  • form multiple seeds
  • can cover the entire lawn over time
Note: If only a small remnant of root remains in the ground after the individual plants of the shepherd’s purse have been pulled out, the ground-covering weeds will sprout again here.

Kriechender Günsel (Ajuga reptans)

  • ground covering herb
  • spreads over the entire area
  • is considered a medicinal herb
  • undesirable in the garden bed or on the lawn
  • flowering in spring
  • hardy and semi-evergreen
  • prefers to grow in well-fertilized soil
  • sunny location preferred

Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)

  • also known as buttercup
  • reproduces by seeds and runners
  • crowds out other plants
  • can infest a lawn in its entirety
  • small yellow flowers
  • blooms in summer
  • Roots up to half a meter deep

Löwenzahn (Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia)

  • well-known ground-covering weed
  • leaf rosettes
  • long stem with yellow flower
  • forms many seeds
  • also known as dandelion
  • fly through the air on small umbrellas
  • also multiply at the root at the same time
  • is often used in the kitchen

Vogelmiere (Stellaria media)

  • very long shoots
  • mostly crawling on the ground
  • form dense cushions
  • grow over other plants
  • usually on well-fertilized garden soil
  • flowering all year round
  • even in the mild winter
  • Seeds can spread all the time
Idea: If an area, for example a lawn, has been completely covered by ground-covering weeds, then cover it with black foil for about two months. Due to the lack of sunlight, the bad unwanted herb dies.

root weeds

Root weeds cause a lot of damage in the garden and are therefore considered very unpleasant. They are usually perennial and form long rhizomes that can infest the entire garden, including garden paths and terraces. The following list highlights bad root weeds.

Nettle (Urtica)

  • there are large and small nettles
  • when touched, small pustules appear on the skin
  • it burns and itches uncomfortably
  • single plant already covers one square meter
  • reproduces underground and by seed
  • Sud is well suited as a protection against plant diseases
  • if processed also good medicinal plant

ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

  • also ground elder or honeysuckle
  • very stubborn
  • underground rhizomes like balls of wool
  • wrap around other root balls of cultivated plants
  • appears everywhere in the bed
  • in addition, ground elder reproduces via seeds
  • has an intense odor
Note: Giersch was deliberately cultivated in many monastery gardens in earlier times because of its healing powers.

Horsetail (Equisetum)

  • Roots up to two meters in the ground
  • fir-tree-like shoots
  • can grow across the board
  • Species often grow on water and moist soil
  • very persistent and perennial
  • form long underground rhizomes
  • also reproduce via spores
  • can be very annoying in the garden
  • Sud is helpful for various plant diseases
Note: Since the multiplication of horsetails also happens via chopped pieces of shoots, you must remove them after cleaning a bed.

frequently asked Questions

If you are not familiar with the weeds that are spreading in the garden bed, you can use an app that you load onto your smartphone. There are already a few good providers out there. These apps find out which weeds are in your garden based on a photo you have uploaded of the respective plant. Incidentally, these apps are suitable for all plants that you want to identify.

In order to control seed weeds properly, they must be removed altogether before flowering. Over time, ground-covering weeds no longer have the opportunity to spread further. Since seed weeds are usually only annuals, with optimal control and regular digging of the soil, it is possible to ban them from the garden altogether after two years. A lawn should also be mowed weekly to prevent flowering.

If you’ve ever planted plants with rhizomes in your garden, you know how difficult it can be to contain the roots. You cannot remove the root weeds with the hoe, as it only attacks the superficial plant. You have to pull the roots out of the ground with a digging fork or a cultivator.

In such a case, when the bad weeds have already spread all over the bed, then usually only a radical measure will help you. To do this, you should also dig up all perennials and plants from the bed in spring and pluck the weed rhizomes from the root balls. Then dig up the bed again and remove all rhizomes before planting again.

If you create a new area, whether lawn or garden bed, then you can use a weed fleece. This prevents the seeds of weeds lying underneath from receiving light and therefore not being able to germinate. Weed fleece is available in well-stocked specialist shops.

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