What is a weed? It’s any plant that grows where we don’t want it. Often they are non-native, potentially invasive plants that can outgrow and crowd out the plants we put in our landscape on purpose.
To avoid a big problem in the height of the growing season, take some time to stop weeds as soon as they appear. The key is to get rid of them before they flower or go to seed.
There are two basic methods of weed control: hand pulling and spraying them.
Hand pulling weeds
If the ground is still moist from rain, pulling weeds becomes much easier and you should be able to remove the root easily. If you only remove the top part of the weed but leave the root in the ground, it will soon grow back.
At the end of a weed-pulling project, there’s great satisfaction in seeing the nicely cleaned bed areas and the big stack of weeds that are no longer in your yard.
But hand-pulling weeds is not a one-time effort—you’ll need to keep an eye out for those left-behind roots sprouting and for weeds that come in on the wind and try to make a new home in your landscape.
Applying a weed-killer product is another option and is most effective when sprayed on small, newly emerging weeds. Trying to pull out short weeds often ends up with them breaking and leaving the root in the ground to regrow. Taller weeds that are sprayed will eventually turn brown and will still need to be pulled out and removed.
Use the proper treatment on the right weed. Before applying any weed killer, read the label, pay attention to safety precautions and pollinator information and know the difference between the two basic types of products.
Better still, rely on a landscape professional to with proper training and licensing to use weed killers safely and most effectively.
Don’t expect to become weed-free
For many weeds, total eradication is unlikely. For example, if your neighbor lets dandelions bloom, you won’t be able to keep them from popping up in your landscape. You’ll need to determine how many unwanted plants you can tolerate seeing when choosing your weed control method.
Remember that a healthy landscape is your best defense against weeds. Encourage the plants you want by keeping them healthy so that they can establish themselves and push out weeds by claiming their real estate.