Weeds are plants that grow where they’re not wanted, often interfering with crops such as vegetables, flowers and herbs that grow nearby. Weeds should not be treated lightly as their presence may harm other plant growth.
There are a variety of non-chemical ways to combat weeds without resorting to chemical herbicides, including agronomic (ground cover), mechanical, and biological methods.
As any gardener knows, weeds aren’t just an eyesore – they can actually do serious damage to your plants! Competing with other species for sunlight, water and nutrients means they compete directly against what you are trying to grow in your yard or garden and threaten its overall healthy development. Without taking proper measures against weeds in time they could quickly take over, stunting growth.
A successful strategy for controlling weeds is pulling them out early when they’re small and easier to handle, thus reducing future work requirements while keeping your garden healthier for longer.
Weeds tend to thrive in soil that has not been fertilized, so make sure your garden receives regular doses of organic matter such as compost.
An effective way to combat weeds is with the addition of a weed barrier, which blocks their access to sunlight and prevents photosynthesising, effectively blocking their ability to grow. This approach may provide an alternative to chemical herbicides which may have adverse side effects for plants as well as for the environment in general.
Make an easy weed barrier in your garden using landscape fabric, strips of black plastic or even old carpet. Cover the fabric with 3-inches of mulch such as straw, pine straw, bark chips or wood chips to suppress weed growth while improving soil conditions.
For a longer-term solution, gravel or pebbles may also serve as effective weed barriers. While not ideal for your soil health, as they will only feed weeds rather than nourish it directly, this option should help control weed problems effectively.
To remove tough weeds more effectively, consider purchasing a specialized weed pulling tool designed to reach into small spaces such as sidewalk cracks or between landscape rocks. These tools can usually be found at garden stores and are especially beneficial when trying to rid large gardens or lawns of weeds that need complete overhauls.
Annuals are among the most prolific garden weeds, growing quickly from seeds before flowering, setting seed and then succumbing to nature within one year of their first sprouting.
Annual weeds can be an unsightly nuisance, spreading from their seeds and overcrowding desirable plants. Furthermore, they consume nutrients which could otherwise benefit other crops in your garden.
Annual weeds spawn from seed each year, but to control the problem it is crucial to eliminate them before they produce seed. As soon as a plant dies off the number of seeds produced will decrease over time.
Weather conditions, crop management techniques and soil characteristics all play a role in determining how much seed an annual weed produces and its likelihood of spreading. More vigorous annual weeds usually produce more seeds.
Successful annual weeds often have genetic traits that facilitate their reproduction across an array of environmental conditions, from cold temperatures and high humidity levels to drought. Such genetic features allow these plants to endure even under difficult circumstances like low temperatures, high humidity or drought.
Such plants often exhibit unique properties that allow them to self-fertilize, with pollen from one plant reaching neighboring weeds via wind transport, thus guaranteeing seed production at every location where there are pollen-bearing winds. Furthermore, many are designed specifically to thrive under conditions where pollen travels far distances by being windborne – thus increasing seed production across wider distances and increasing seed production over time.
Summer annual weeds typically germinate in spring, then flourish throughout the summer months. These may include grasses such as fescue or bluegrass and broadleaf weeds such as carpetweed, common purslane, morningglories, pigweed and spurge.
Probstate Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare), is one of the many annual summer annual weeds that germinate early and spread rapidly throughout the summer, often inhabiting cracks in pavement. They eventually form dense mats of 24″ diameter or greater that often cover an entire square yard of space.
After becoming established, annual weeds can become difficult to manage. To effectively tackle them, removing them before the first frost is recommended. Other effective strategies for controlling annual weeds include liming the soil and creating landscape beds in advance or using inorganic mulches such as black plastic or geotextiles which block water and oxygen passage through and inhibit further weed development.
Many weeds reproduce by spreading via underground stems called rhizomes that may be hard to identify. As these stems may lie hidden below the soil surface, multiple attempts may be required in order to completely rid yourself of an infestation of weeds.
Rhizomes can be distinguished from roots by their length and growth direction; dense rhizomes tend to grow vertically while running rhizomes spread horizontally across the ground. Knowing this information will allow you to identify which weeds are spreading via underground stems before you try to eradicate them.
Certain rhizomes of plants can be especially problematic in a garden, as they allow aggressive plants to spread more aggressively and take over an area. Rhizomes from “traveling” perennial weeds such as common bermudagrass and yellow nutsedge can be particularly hard to control; their creeping stolons spread further, so when hand-weeding them be sure to thoroughly remove all plant parts for effective control.
Rhizomes of many plants serve as vital support structures and anchor points that allow their roots to extend into the soil, sending out roots throughout. Furthermore, some rhizomes play an essential role in storing nutrients for use during winter.
Rhizomes provide perennial plants with vital nutrient stores to survive harsh environmental conditions and resist damage from foot traffic and livestock. Furthermore, rhizome roots can transport water, nutrients and microorganisms directly to nearby plant roots in soil.
Rhizomes provide food sources for beneficial organisms living in the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi can assist certain crops by strengthening root development and increasing their ability to absorb nutrients from their surroundings.
Mycorrhizal networks can also enhance crop resilience against insect pests and disease, while providing beneficial microorganisms that produce essential soil nutrients like nitrogen.
Not only can invasive weeds damage garden beds, their rhizomes can serve as hosts for insects and diseases that enable rapid spread. Examples include downy mildew on prickly lettuce; sow thistle, wild mustards, saltbrush cabbage Russian thistle as hosts for saltbrush; curly top virus on sugar beets are just a few examples of such infections that exploit this loophole to quickly invade new territory.
Starving annual or perennial weeds of sunlight and nutrients is an effective natural method for controlling their growth, particularly annual or perennial varieties. Restricting access to light for an extended period will eventually kill it off.
This method can be very successful at eliminating weeds and can provide a safer, quicker alternative to pulling them by hand. Just keep in mind that certain weeds, like dock, will regrowth after being killed off.
An effective way to eradicate weeds from your garden is covering the ground with mulched materials – this will not only prevent them from germinating but will provide nutrients for other plants in your garden as well.
Mulching can help prevent future weed seed germination by trapping heat in the soil and keeping temperatures constant, and is particularly helpful when trying to minimize Japanese knotweed germination.
Use of a weed burner can also be an environmentally friendly and precise method for clearing large areas of weeds. A gas burner produces an intense flame that penetrates deep into root cells to destroy photosynthesizing capabilities of the weeds and kill them off quickly and accurately.
Additionally, use weed suppressant fabric that covers your garden to stop weeds from emerging through the ground. This material can be purchased at most garden stores and even bulkily to cover larger areas of land.
Before mulching your garden, take the time to remove any existing weeds that have taken root in its beds. This will prevent new ones from appearing and make keeping it tidy much simpler.
Weeds may seem difficult to rid your garden of, but a strong fight back will pay dividends in the end. Remember that weeds can quickly take over if left alone – their spread will quickly consume your garden space!
If an area of your garden is too crowded for you to manage effectively, try breaking it into sections and weeding each one individually for less stress and hassle.
Once your job is done, dead weeds can easily be collected and put in your compost bin using either a strong garden tub or work cart.