Mary Ann Steele
Somervell Master Gardener
We all know them, but we don’t love them. Weeds, the despised plants that creep into our flowerbeds and scatter across our lawns, can be tackled more effectively when you know what you’re dealing with. You’ll never be able to completely rid your yard of these plant pests, however, preventative steps and early removal before they take deep root or go to seed will help you limit how much time you spend weeding later in the season.
Follow these tips to make weeding less of a chore.
Aim to start weeding early in the spring.
Weed when the soil is moist. It’s essential-and much easier- to pull whole plants by their roots. Try to do it right after a rain, but if that’s not possible, first give the bed a good soaking then weed the next day.
Weed on a dry sunny day. The weeds you remove on a sunny day will shrivel in the sun. Hoe annual weeds on a sunny day making sure to sever the plant from its roots. If weeding on a cool, overcast, moist day, collect and remove weeds from the garden.
Protect yourself! Wear tough, well fitting gloves. Consider nitrite or latex-dipped gloves found at garden centers or automotive or paint stores. Invest in a kneeling pad or knee pads to make weeding more comfortable and to keep clothes cleaner.
Use chemicals as a last resort. Herbicides can be effective on mature plants. Some herbicides attack grasses only and are good choices for flowerbeds. Other herbicides are “non-selectives,” so they kill every thing they touch. FOLLOW ALL LABEL DIRECTIONS EXACTLY! Repeat application may be necessary to kill mature weeds.
- Burning or horticulture vinegar – these post-emergence options are most effective on newly sprouted weeds, particularly annuals, without a tap root. Neither method should be used on lawns. Burning with a flame weeder should be done only on moist, calm days to prevent fire from spreading. Vinegar based herbicides require special handling because of the high concentration of acid which can burn skin and eyes.
- Pre-emergence herbicides – if you have a severe weed problem, applying a pre-emergence product on you lawn or flower gardens in early spring helps prevent weed seedlings from growing before they germinate, but it allows established perennial plants to grow. Pre-emergent herbicides will not kill established weeds.
- Post-emergence herbicides – For tenacious enemies like poison ivy or brambles, selectively and carefully spray or brush on a foliar herbicide on a non-windy day following the label’s directions. DO NOT place weeds killed by a chemical herbicide in the compost bin!
Some annual weeds are: henbit, chickweed, prostrate spurge and ragweed.
A few perennial weeds are: bindweed, dandilion and nettle.
It’s not easy, but it’s nice to hear that there are simple ways to get rid of weeds. But the fact is you will always have to keep weeding if you have a lawn or garden. Keep these keys to weed eradication in mind: prevent weeds from sprouting, destroy weeds quickly if they do sprout, and pull and discard weeds before thy bloom and make seeds.