Weed elimination remains one of the biggest challenges faced by home gardeners. Tenacious and resilient, many common garden weeds continue to grow back despite the best efforts of many home gardeners. Weeds often flourish in the same conditions as the plants they compete against, and once established, they can be very difficult to remove, often growing faster than you can pull them out.
When it comes to weed control, it pays to work smarter, not harder. Knowing your enemy can get you one step ahead and reveal the most effective ways to use the weed control tools at your disposal. Applying a little botanical knowledge can make a tremendous amount of difference in effectively controlling some of the most common types of garden weeds found in the typical American garden.
Despite their persistence, weeds are not invincible. Effective weed control takes advantage of the key weak points of a plant’s lifecycle. Attacking the weeds at the most vulnerable parts of their lives not only stops them at their tracks but preventing them from fulfilling their entire lifecycle, which reduces the likelihood of a recurrent weed problem.
More Than a Garden Problem
Plants classified as garden weeds grow fast and thick, quickly outpacing most garden plants. Weeds compete with garden plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Left to themselves, weeds can easily overtake a garden.
Plants classified as noxious weeds, in particular, can be especially harmful to both the rest of your garden and the environment. Specific types of invasive weeds, such as giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), can be hazardous to your health and safety and can be next to impossible to remove without professional help. Even more common, less overly harmful weeds can be incredibly difficult to deal with, especially if they appear to keep growing back.
Weeds are hard to completely eliminate. Weeding is thus a regular maintenance chore, albeit one that you can take the reins of to keep it from getting out of hand. Learning more about the specific growth patterns of weeds can help you identify the best way to effectively control them.
Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials
Much like garden plants, weeds can be sorted between annuals, biennials, and perennials. Annual weeds grow by the season and live out the course of their lives within the span of a year. Biennials take two years to complete their lifecycles, whereas perennials continue to grow for several years.
Of all the weeds, annuals are among the most persistent, as they grow quickly and create a new generation of weeds within the span of a growing season. Left to themselves, they can quickly overtake a vegetable plot or flower bed. Biennials, with two growth modes, spread more slowly and are usually more of a problem around bushes and other long-lived plants.
Perennials, meanwhile, are the most difficult to kill as they require the death of the entire plant down to the roots. For many species, even leaving segments of the root system intact could cause the plant to reproduce and spread rapidly. The most noxious of invasive weeds are often perennials.
Annuals are divided according to their preferred growing season. Warm-season annuals grow during the spring and summer and die back during autumn, whereas cool-season annuals grow within the autumn, hibernate in winter, and grow vigorously in the spring. Cool-season annuals often surprise gardeners with how quickly they can grow and overtake the garden before anything is even planted.
Applying Control Methods
Weeds are intensely difficult to keep out of the garden. Periodic weeding, however, can help make this job a whole lot easier to manage by preventing too many weeds from becoming too established.
The traditional and often troublesome way of removing weeds once they’ve grown involve getting to the literal root of the problem. That is, you go out and literally remove the entire plant, roots and all, from the ground itself. This is a time-consuming and often painstaking method, but one that works well for many kinds of weeds.
Warm-season annuals have relatively shallow root systems and are easily removed through this method. Many perennial weeds like the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) are often only truly killed when they are uprooted—that is, their central root systems have been destroyed.
Herbicides are another way of controlling weeds and are often the only solution for specific types of perennial weeds. Because of the way that they work, herbicidal chemicals should be selected carefully based on the weed species that you wish to get rid of. Apply the chemicals carefully to ensure that no other plants are harmed by the chemicals.
Leveraging Growth Cycles
The growth cycles of weeds play a key role in improving the efficiency of weed-control measures. Seasonal weeds are easily removed early in their growing season, long before they are capable of creating a second generation. By eliminating them early, you reduce the likelihood of creating a recurring weed problem, which might emerge if an entire generation of weeds were able to fulfill their life cycle.
Annuals are the easiest to dispose of, with their shallow root systems being especially vulnerable to tilling and pulling. You may allow some cold-season annual weeds to start growing before planting any other annuals in your garden. Once they’ve started growing, it’s easy to hoe them down while you prepare the plots and beds.
This can also work for infestations of biennial weeds like Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Keeping annual weeds under control can prevent biennial weeds from establishing a foothold. Already-established biennial weeds can be controlled by first prioritizing the plants already in their flowering phase, pulling out their flowers early before they could produce seeds. Weeds still in their leafy stage can then be pulled out.
Autumn and early spring represents the best time to act on weeds. With most flowers beds are vegetable plots empty, you have little to fear about other plants getting harmed while you act on a weed.
Perennial weeds in temperate parts of the country are especially vulnerable around winter and early spring while they are still dormant. If you're willing to get your hands dirty in early spring, you can effectively uproot and dispose of perennial weeds. When using herbicides, it pays to be precise; spot-kill individual weeds using the appropriate herbicides whenever you can to ensure that only the weeds are killed.
Finally, the beginning of the growing season is the best time to apply preventive measures. Add a layer of weed fabric and mulch over your garden beds once you’ve laid out everything.
Sometimes, you need help on getting control of the weeds that have invaded your yard. When that time arises, Fromm’s is there to help. Not only do we keep you house pest free, but we also can keep it free from weeds. We have the expertise and tools to take control and eradicate weeds of all varieties. For weed control, give us a call today.