Stay Ahead of the Weeds

You know the saying – a weed is any plant in a place you don’t want it. Are you seeing grasses, dandelions, bindweed and even wild blackberry, popping up among your roses, in your lawn, vegetable garden or other exposed spaces, even in teeny spaces between bricks on your patio?  What’s a gardener to do with such a bounty of weeds? 

  • Get them while they’re young – weeds with tender leaves and less developed roots are easier to extract.
  • Pull while the soil is still moist – as soil dries out it tightens its grip on roots.  After rains have stopped, irrigate a day or two before you start pulling.
  • Yank them out before they develops seeds – if you’ve got tall weeds and can’t pull them, use a string trimmer to cut them down before they flower.
  • Get the whole thing, roots and all – grab the weed close to the ground and pull up, twisting the plant slightly as you remove it. Leaving even a portion of the roots is enough for them to regrow, especially those with deep taproots like dandelions, or the lengthy tenacious roots of bindweed.
  • Use tools for difficult spaces – an old screwdriver can help pry out those nasty ones shooting up between pavers or in the cracks of a driveway. For areas blanketed with tiny weeds, try a stirrup hoe, also known as a hula hoe. Push and pull the hoe just under the soil surface to loosen weeds for easy removal. 

Avoid using herbicides; unintentional exposure to a weed killer like Round-Up can severely damage roses, even with just a slight drift of spray – used in your own yard or even from a neighbors. It can be a recent exposure or as much as six months ago and only now is the damage visible on your plants. If you think you may have some damage from herbicide, this website has photos and information about herbicide damage on a wide range of plants. 

Here’s more information on how to control weeds in your garden without using pesticides.

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