While tending your garden for hours could have therapeutic benefits, weeds that overgrow and choke the desirable plants can be a nuisance. Since most weeds are pretty aggressive, they take up space and make it harder for your garden plants to flourish. They are more resilient than most, so don’t be surprised if they do better than your plants.
How Are Weeds Classified?
Weeds are any plants that grow where they’re not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Annual weeds grow from seeds dropped during the previous growing season.
Biennial weeds complete their growth processes in two years. Perennial weeds can survive for decades as they regrow from dormant stolons, previously established roots, rhizomes, tubers, and seeds.
They also come in the form of broad-leafed and narrow-leafed varieties. Herbicide manufacturers use chemicals that kill specific types of weeds to eradicate them. But nothing can beat the integrated weed management system that harnesses a combination of chemical treatments and the tried-and-tested hoe.
Benefits of Controlling Weeds in Your Garden
By keeping your garden weed-free, you avoid competition for the available nutrients. Weeds interfere with your garden plants, increase costs, and lower the overall quality. In addition to impeding pesticide applications, weeds harbor pests that spread diseases in your garden.
Undesirable grasses in your garden impede the natural aeration in the soil and prevent root development. It’s essential to control weeds if you want to grow an attractive and disease-free garden.
How to Control Weeds in Your Garden
Weeds come in two main categories; broad-leafed and narrow-leafed. Choosing suitable herbicides for the weeds in your garden can help to control them. While non-selective herbicides kill every growing plant, selective herbicides kill only broad-leafed weeds but won’t kill grasses.
Use the following methods to eradicate weeds in your garden:
1. Dig out Deep-rooted Weeds
Removing the entire taproot is essential if you’re looking to prevent a new plant from growing. Some weeds have a robust root system that allows them to compete successfully for nutrients and water. Unfortunately, such roots make it almost impossible to remove the weeds without harming your plants if you dig deeper than three inches.
Although most broad-leaved herbicides will only kill the stem and leaves, they leave the roots intact. Dandelions can quickly reproduce from the roots during the onset of the rainy season. Dig out the deep-rooted weeds during the summer to eradicate them before planting.
If you have a couple of flowering plants in a green swath of St. Augustine grass, then it’s pretty easy to spot the weeds. However, if the weeds come in the form of couch grass or other sedges, you struggle to identify them. Essentially, weeds have different growth characteristics when compared to cultivated plants.
If possible, avoid exposing dormant seeds as you might encourage them to sprout. Use a sharp knife to sever the dandelion roots and apply mulch immediately.
2. Eliminate Underground Rhizomes
Rhizomes are modified stems that run underground horizontally. They reproduce by shooting new stems above the surface and new roots below the soil.
The resilient nature of rhizomes makes weeds drought-tolerant and tough to kill. These plants include Creeping Charlie, horsetail, Japanese knotweeds, poison ivy, and stinging nettle.
When Bermuda grass takes over your garden beds, it can affect your plants and lead to stunted growth. This highly invasive grass is quite difficult to control due to its resilient rhizomes. It rarely stays where intended.
Rhizome-based weeds go into dormancy during winter, allowing them to survive the harsh conditions. Since they’re perennial plants, they’ll bother you every year if you don’t control them from the onset.
Dig the rhizomes out with a roto-tiller and use a rake to separate them from the soil. Collect all rhizomes in a heap and burn them. Then, leave the land fallow for one year and prepare to plant in spring.
3. Use Non-selective Herbicides Before Planting
The non-selective herbicides contain copper sulfate, a toxic compound that kills all vegetation forms in its wake. The best way to eradicate perennial weeds is to allow them to sprout during the rainy season before applying a non-selective herbicide.
These herbicides contain adjuvants (chemicals that allow quick absorption) for faster weed control. The quick distribution of systemic herbicides throughout the plants helps to kill the shoots and inhibit growth.
However, one application is not sufficient to kill the weeds. Apply two to three applications to ensure they don’t grow back.
The goal is to prevent mature weeds from dropping their seeds. You can do so by chopping their heads with pruning loppers.
4. Insist on Hybrid Seeds
If you plant non-hybrid seeds, it’s possible to introduce weeds in your garden inadvertently. While producing hybrid seeds, growers adhere to the highest standards of purity. If you’re looking to combat future weed populations, insist on hybrids seeds and establish your plants before the weeds emerge.
It’s easy to control such weeds with selective herbicides. Many non-hybrid seeds come with varieties of weeds that can be bothersome. You reap what you sow.
5. Use Broad-spectrum Herbicides
Most gardens have plenty of weed seeds lying dormant and waiting for the opportune time to grow. Fortunately, broad-spectrum herbicides are effective at eliminating all post-emergence weeds. These selective herbicides have everything you need to eradicate a long list of broad-leaved weeds in your home garden.
Most options are a combination of various compounds as no single herbicide can eliminate all weed varieties. For example, 2-4-D contains dichloro-phenoxy acetic acid and glyphosate that alters the plant cells, inhibits growth, and eventually kills the weeds.
Refrain from using non-selective herbicides at this point as you risk killing your plants too. Mulching is an effective way of smothering weeds. It also hosts beetles and crickets that devour a considerable variety of weeds.
Conquer the Weeds in Your Home Garden
If weeds invade your home garden, the overgrown vegetation will not only lead to a messy property, but you’ll spend a fortune on garden maintenance. While noxious weeds can be highly destructive and difficult to control, you can conquer them once you understand their growth habits. If you have more weeds than you can handle, consider chopping them down and stick to a weeding schedule.