American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, an avid gardener, once  described a weed as “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Who was he kidding? Doesn’t everyone despise weeds? They’re pesky and unsightly. And they’re seemingly everywhere. Around the world, there are about 8,000 species of weeds, according to Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Weeds are naturally strong competitors,” Penn State says, “and those weeds that can best compete always tend to dominate.”

sowthistle

Sow thistle is a common weed in the Las Vegas, NV, area.
Photo: Arizona Crop Improvement Association

Around the country, there are certain places where conditions are especially favorable for weed domination. Since we’re a lawn care company, we set out to figure out which places those are.

In compiling our rankings of the 50 largest metro areas based on the likelihood of weeds popping up, we examined four weed-friendly factors:

  • Percentage of vacant homes. The more vacant homes there are, the more weeds an area is likely to have. This factor, based on RealtyTrac figures from the second quarter of 2016, makes up 35 percent of an area’s total score.
  • Average annual precipitation. Believe it or not, many weeds thrive in drier conditions once they’re established, so the less precipitation there is, the more weeds an area is likely to have. This factor represents 25 percent of the total score.
  • Drought risk. Again, many weeds actually grow better in drier conditions, so the more drought risk there is, the more weeds an area is likely to have. Plus, drought inhibits the effectiveness of anti-weed herbicides. Drought risk, based on data from Sperling’s Best Places, constitutes 25 percent of the total score.
  • Average wind speed. Windier conditions help disperse the seeds of weeds, thus promoting weed growth. Average wind speed makes up 15 percent of the total score.

dandelions

Dandelions are some of the most recognizable weeds in the U.S.
Photo: Sunshine Landscaping

When we sifted through all the data, we came up with a weed winner. While we can’t outright anoint Las Vegas as the weed capital of the U.S., we can say it ranks first on our list of the 12 Metro Areas Where You’re Most Likely to See Lots of Weeds.

“We have a surprising number of weeds in Las Vegas,” says Angela O’Callaghan, associate professor and social horticulture specialist at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Among the most common weeds in the Vegas area are sow thistle, prostrate or spotted spurge, Mediterranean grass and green fountain grass, O’Callaghan says. “But there are many more,” she adds.

Led by Las Vegas, here’s our ranking of the 12 Metro Areas Where You’re Most Likely to See Lots of Weeds.

1. Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas vacant home

Photo: Uncle Jack’s Very Vintage Vegas

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.1%
Average annual precipitation: 4 inches
Drought risk: 114.6
Average wind speed: 9.1 mph
Total score: 2.21 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

2. St. Louis, MO

st-louis-weeds

Photo: St. Louis Patina

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.8%
Average annual precipitation: 41 inches
Drought risk: 111.1
Average wind speed: 9.6 mph
Total score: 3.09 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Need help with weeds in St Louis?  Visit our St Louis, MO lawn care page for more info.

3. Riverside-San Bernardino, CA

San Bernardino weeds

Photo: KABC

Percentage of vacant homes: 1.7%
Average annual precipitation: 10.3 inches
Drought risk: 126.5
Average wind speed: 5 mph
Total score: 3.25 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

4. Detroit, MI

detroit vacant home weeds

Photo: Marathon Pundit

Percentage of vacant homes: 4.4%
Average annual precipitation: 34 inches
Drought risk: 89.3
Average wind speed: 10.2 mph
Total score: 3.33 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Book a Detroit lawn care professional today!

5. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis weeds

Screen grab: YouTube/The Indy Channel

Percentage of vacant homes: 3.3%
Average annual precipitation: 42.4 inches
Drought risk: 103.7
Average wind speed: 9.6 mph
Total score: 3.47 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

LawnStarter is expanding to provide lawn mowing in Indianapolis, get a quote today!

6. Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL

Tampa weeds

Photo: WFTS

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.9%
Average annual precipitation: 46.3  inches
Drought risk: 118.2
Average wind speed: 8.3 mph
Total score: 3.54 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

LawnStarter provides lawn care in St Pete, FL  and Tampa as well!

7. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore vacant house

Photo: WMAR

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.6%
Average annual precipitation: 41.9 inches
Drought risk: 111.7
Average wind speed: 8.7 mph
Total score: 3.62 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Our lawn care pros in Baltimore can help you out!

8. Kansas City, MO

Kansas City vacant house

Photo: KSHB

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.2%
Average annual precipitation: 39 inches
Drought risk: 101.4
Average wind speed: 10.6 mph
Total score: 3.78 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Book a lawn care professional in Kansas City today!

9. Cleveland, OH

Cleveland vacant house

Photo: newsnet5.com

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.9%
Average annual precipitation: 39 inches
Drought risk: 88.2
Average wind speed: 10.5 mph
Total score: 3.91 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

LawnStarter brings you the top lawn services Cleveland OH has to offer.

10. Memphis, TN

Memphis vacant house

Photo: Memphis Flyer

Percentage of vacant homes: 2.9%
Average annual precipitation: 53.7 inches
Drought risk: 113.2
Average wind speed: 8.8 mph
Total score: 3.93 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Want someone to take care of your weeds?  Visit our Memphis lawn care page to learn about the services we offer.

11. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City weeds

Photo: Zillow

Percentage of vacant homes: 0.9%
Average annual precipitation: 18.5 inches
Drought risk: 123.7
Average wind speed: 8.8 mph
Total score: 3.95 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Looking for a Salt Lake City lawn mowing service?  You’ve come to the right place.

12. Birmingham, AL

Birmingham vacant house

Photo: RealtyTrac

Percentage of vacant homes: 3.2%
Average annual precipitation: 54 inches
Drought risk: 120.9
Average wind speed: 7.1 mph
Total score: 4.02 (scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being worst)

Live in Birmingham and need someone to help out with your yard?  LawnStarter provides convenient lawn service in Birmingham.

Data sources

www.currentresults.com/Weather/Michigan/average-yearly-precipitation.php
www.currentresults.com/Weather/US/average-annual-precipitation-by-city.php
http://wssa.net/wssa/weed/articles/wssa-what-makes-a-weed
http://ggweather.com/ccd/avgwind.htm
www.wrcc.dri.edu/htmlfiles/westwind.final.html
http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15108
www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/drought.aspx

Top photo: FloraFinder.com

Join our newsletter for more cool stuff like this

Join our newsletter for more cool stuff like this

Thanks! We'll be in touch.