For all homeowners, weeding may be the task that takes up most of their gardening time. The crabgrass, dandelions and field bindweeds appear out of nowhere and make you busy all spring long till early summer. It is really not fair that you cannot enjoy your beautiful lawn after all the time and effort you have put into it. You should remove those obnoxious weeds because, if you let them grow, they will use up your plant's water and nutrients. Plus, they can spread and invade your veggies and flowers in no time. So, in this article, we would like to introduce 10 common weeds and how to treat them with the hope it will make your weeding task become much easier.
10 Common Weeds And How To Remove Them
Many people may like seeing these flowers in spring because they create a beautiful carpet of yellow flowers on green grass. However, these weeds will soon dominate your lawn. Dandelions are deeply tap-rooted perennial grass which is difficult to eliminate thoroughly. Being perennial, they come back to your garden year after year. Their taproots can go down about 25 centimeters or more into the soil. Plus, it is very brittle and easily fractures when you try to pull it out. If any part of this taproot remains in the soil, it will regenerate and grow right back. Dandelions also reproduce from their seeds that can spread from the wind to other yards.
A thick and healthy lawn is always the best defense against the domination of dandelions. Hand pulling can be applied when the small areas are infected, but be sure to take out at least 2 inches of the taproot, otherwise it will sprout again. You may choose to use herbicides to kill dandelions. Apply a post-emergent herbicide on dandelions in the fall, so the root of it will absorb the herbicide directly.
Purslane is a summer annual broadleaf weed which is also known as Portulaca oleracea, pigweed, red root, pursley, little hogweed, or verdolaga. This weed has fleshy and succulent leaves with yellow flowers. The stems branch out from a single taproot and lay flat on the ground. They may reach 16 inches in length, and sometimes they form large mats of leaves. Purslane can grow anywhere from fertile garden soil to the driest soils. It can adapt to the drought very well because of its succulent characteristics. Purslane can be regenerated from seeds or stem pieces. When the seeds stay more than 3 inches deep in the soil, it will not germinate. Unfortunately, purslane seeds might stay viable up to 40 years in the soil. That being said, if somehow the seeds are brought to the surface, they will quickly germinate.
In order to control purslane, make sure that this weed and the seeds of it are all eliminated from your garden. You can pull them by hand, and then put them into a paper or plastic bag before throwing them away. Remember that if you leave a single trace of the plant in your garden, it will re-root and reproduce again and again. Another way to get rid of purslane is mulching: place a heavy layer of mulch over a previously infected area to keep purslane seeds away from light. That will prevent them from germinating. You also can use herbicides to effectively remove this weed when it is still young.
Crabgrass is an annual weed whose leaves form a crab-like circle. It often appears in weak or bare areas of lawns. Crabgrass loves hot, dry conditions, so it can be a major problem during the summer. The weeds die in the fall, spreading thousands of seeds that will be ready to germinate in the following spring. You can prevent crabgrass from germinating by applying a pre-emergent weed killer. Besides, cultural practices also help in an eco-friendly way. You can get rid of crabgrass by proper mowing and choosing irrigation. Just use some types of mower such as reel mower, self propelled mower and mow your lawn at the proper height of your grass type to encourage grass to shade the soil. It will help prevent the germination of weed seeds. Water lawns deeply and less frequently to strengthen the grass, thus it can defeat crabgrass. There is no place for weeds on a thick and healthy lawn.
Also known as creeping charlie, ground ivy is a common invader of lawns. This weed is an aggressive, low-growing perennial that prefers shady and moist areas with low fertility. It can also grow in sunny areas. The leaves of it are coin-shaped with round-toothed edges. Ground ivy is very competitive because it can crawls over the soil surface, rooting at leaf nodes (where the leaf attaches to the stem). It is very difficult to remove creeping charlie. You can remove them from your lawn by hand or with an appropriate weeding tool. Do it when the soil is moist to assure all the weed roots are totally pulled up from the ground. Mulching also helps to decrease Charlie but cannot eliminate it permanently. Please remember mulch conserves moisture and creates a nice feature of a garden. You can add mulch right after weeding. Another option is to use a post-emergent herbicide to spray on the creeping charlie. When it disappears, fill up the area with grass to prevent it from returning.
The common chickweed (Stellaria media) is an annual weed that favors shady, moist soil with higher fertility. Chickweed seeds sprout in the fall. It grows along the ground and forms a thick and dense mat that produces small and white flowers. Its shallow root system can be easily removed by hoeing or hand pulling. Same as with crabgrass, you can prevent chickweed problems by maintaining a thick and healthy lawn. Please feed the lawn two times in spring and two times in the fall. Keep the lawn watered thoroughly and less frequently. That will discourage chickweed. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in fall to prevent chickweed seeds from germinating.
Also known as Poa Annua, it is one of the most problematic weeds. It prefers shaded, moist and cool conditions and tolerates compacted soils. Poa Annua can form large patches in wet, shady areas in home lawns. After dying, these patches leave bare spots on the lawn in hot, dry weather. This weed commonly appears in highly maintained lawns, such as sports fields and golf courses. With a few plants, annual bluegrass can invade the turf or ornamented areas as it spreads very quickly.
You can stop or at least slow down the invasions of annual bluegrass by maintaining a healthy lawn. To do that, you should follow these tips: water deeply and infrequently, mow high and frequently, aerate to reduce soil compaction but not during the germination times of this weed, overseed in the fall and reseed the bare areas. If you choose to use chemicals, then apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall. You will not have to overseed if you use herbicide to remove the annual bluegrass.
Broadleaf plantain is also known as common plantain or dooryard plantain. It is a perennial weed that favors moist areas with full sun or partial shade and compacted soil. It tolerates drought but thrives in overwatered soil. The leaves of it are smooth and oval. Again, good lawn maintenance will help to prevent broadleaf plantain from your lawn. Reduce soil compaction by aerating and follow a regular schedule of fertilization at least twice a year.
Water your lawn deeply and less frequently. A healthy lawn will choke out broadleaf plantain. Broadleaf plantain can be pulled by hand when the infected area is small. You may have to repeat this task several times to achieve complete control. Remember that this weed must be removed before it has a chance to seed. Chemical control is recommended when a large area of lawn is infested. Use a post-emergent herbicide in fall or in spring to effectively kill plantains.
White clover (also called Dutch clover) is a perennial that often grows in patches along the roadsides or in pastures and lawns. It is a low-growing plant with the stolons that produce roots and shoots at the nodes along the stem. White clover has trifoliate leaves and white flowers. It regenerates by creeping stems and seeds. This weed is capable of fixing its own nitrogen. That’s why it tends to grow in poorly fertilized soil.
The best method for preventing Dutch clover is maintaining the health and density of your lawn. Keep your turf grasses properly mowed, irrigated and fertilized to grow a full and thick lawn. With a small patch of white clover, you can dig them manually and apply fertilizer to those areas. It is difficult to dig up large patches, so you may have to use herbicides. Fall is the best time to apply herbicides to the infected areas. You may have to do several applications to remove this weed.
Wild violet is a cool, seasoned and broadleaf perennial weed which prefers shady, moist areas. It looks quite lovely with the purple (sometimes white or yellow) flowers when it blooms in spring. Wild violet has a dense, fibrous root system and heart-shaped leaves. Those pretty little plants can quickly crowd your turf, and they are very difficult to get rid of. Once they take over a lawn, controlling or killing wild violets can take years. You can manually pull the weeds if the infected areas are small. Then, apply mulch over these areas to discourage the regrowth of wild violet.
If you choose to control the weeds by chemicals, then it is best applied in the fall. Use a post-emergent, broadleaf herbicide to kill them. Repeated applications will be necessary to kill them. The best prevention against wild violets is a thick, healthy lawn because the dense roots of the turf grasses will help to prevent those little devils from rooting.
Also known as pepperweed, snapweed, and land cress, hairy bittercress is an annual spring or winter weed that favors moist, cool soil. It is considered as an invasive plant because it will form dense mats of rosette over an area. It has a long, deep taproot, so it is difficult to pull them out completely. The leaf stalks are sparsely hairy, grow in a basal rosette and can reach 10 cm length. The flowers of the hairy bittercress are tiny, white and have 4 petals. Also, the petals will turn into long seed pods. When these pods mature, they will shoot the seeds far from the parent plant.
Controlling hairy bittercress includes cultural practices and chemical. By encouraging good grass growth, you can prevent the invasion of this weed. Since it has a very long taproot, simple hand-pulling cannot help remove the root entirely. Use a long and slim weeding tool to dig down around the taproot to get the entire plant out of the ground. Mow frequently to eliminate the flower heads before they produce seeds. When there is a serious infection of the weeds, chemical treatment will be needed. Apply a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide on young plants in spring and fall to kill them.
After reading this article, you may clearly understand the common types of weeds and the ways to remove them. But please remember before starting any weed control program, you must keep in mind that weeds cannot be eradicated completely from your lawn. All you can do is to limit the infection to an acceptable level. The best method to manage weeds is always a healthy, well-maintained lawn, in which dense and vigorous turf grasses grow and won’t allow weed seeds to germinate because they cannot contact with soil and sunlight. If a herbicide treatment is chosen, try to use a minimum of weed killers and always read and follow the instructions of the manufacturer carefully.
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