A Plant Out of Place

With all the rain this spring weeds have popped everywhere. Fortunately, there are very few that are invasive and problematic. What are the options for combatting weeds?

Mulching is a covering that blocks weed seeds from the sunlight and therefore, germination. Organic mulches will break down over time and add nutrients to soil while helping to retain moisture. This type of mulch is ideal for borders and beds. Saving and using chopped leaves in the fall is a good way to save the cost of buying your own. Other common options are straw and wood chips. In cases where weeds are too numerous or very persistent, dampened newsprint can be placed under the mulch as an added organic deterrent. Landscape fabric also works great.

Pulling weeds is the most common choice. It is essential to remove the roots as most weeds will regrow from any roots left in the ground. The younger the weed, the easier to pull out. Weeding when the soil is moist makes it less difficult to remove the whole plant. Always work from the base of the weed and have a trowel handy to dig out roots that break off. The more recent thinking is to minimize soil disruption. Cultivation, even though shallow, exposes the seed bed. Light and air awakens dormant weed seeds.

A trimmer makes weed removal easier along fences, at garden and bed edges and around shrubs and bushes. Sometimes chopping weeds is much easier than digging them out. A good strategy to keep invasive or persistent weeds like thistles under control is to cut them down repeatedly before they bloom and set seed.

Using a chemical control is also an option but one with cost and some potential risk. If using a chemical option always read and follow the directions on the product. Be aware that some weeds have become resistant to herbicides.

Weeding is not a task that most of us enjoy. Regular efforts with these approaches can, over time, reduce the number of weeds in your yard. A wise gardener once said: a weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.