Few things in the gardening world cause us as much frustration as weeds. They’re unsightly, they’re disruptive, and sometimes they’re a pain to get rid of. When we’re trying to create a beautiful landscape of luscious, green lawn and bountiful blooms, they always seem to be right there, ready to rear their ugly heads just when we want them least. As tough as they may seem, though, with the right tactics, getting rid of them can be easier than we thought.
How to Keep Weeds Out of Your Yard
Prevention is the #1 way to keep weeds out of your yard. Here are some of our top tips and tricks for keeping them away:
Mulch prevents weeds from accessing the oxygen and sunlight they need to grow, suffocating them in their place! It also regulates soil temperature and moisture level for healthier growth of your plants.
Keep a thick and healthy lawn. Weeds love areas with sparse growth and compacted soil, so regular aeration, feeding, overseeding, and mowing are essential.
Overshadow them with spreading varieties. Like all plants, weeds need sunlight to grow, so by planting a dense layer of “living mulch” with spreading plants, you’ll starve them out.
Tips for Weeding
If weeds have made their way into your yard already, take them out naturally with these top weeding tips:
Pull when wet. When pulling weeds by hand, it’s far easier to get a hold of the whole root system in moist soil than dry.
Use a fork or spade to dig the weeds out. This will help you to get as much of the root system as possible, leaving little behind to pop up again later.
Chop off their heads before they seed to prevent the spread of growth. You’ll need to do this a few times throughout the season.
Dry them out by only watering your plants, and not the whole garden. This can make your watering schedule a little more time-consuming, but the time you’ll save in weeding will be worth it!
Smother them. Place a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard on top of existing weeds before mulching. The barrier will break down naturally, but will first help suffocate existing weeds.
While all of these methods can be an effective way of dealing with a variety of weeds, the most effective way to get rid of any weeds in your yard is first to know your enemy. Here are some common weeds, how to identify them, and the best plan of attack for each.
Dandelions: Bright yellow and incredibly hardy perennial flowers that turn into fluffy seed heads later in the season that can be spread by a gust of wind or a wishful breath of air from a young child. They are best controlled with a thick and healthy lawn or regular deadheading to prevent seeds from spreading.
Bittercress: Tiny, white flowers that turn into seed pods later in the season are set against club-shaped foliage. They have shallow, fibrous roots that can easily be pulled out by hand. If chemical intervention is needed, spot treatment with a post-emergent can keep seeds from growing.
Henbit: A hairy winter annual with square-shaped stems, pink flowers, and purple foliage that prefers to grow in thin spots with some moisture and shade.
Chickweed: Small white flowers and fleshy leaves that grow in mats throughout the yard are the markers of this winter annual. They are very resistant to herbicides, so try pulling as much as you can by hand. If that’s not enough, VERY CAREFULLY spot treat with a non-selective broadleaf weed control before they die off. But, you know us, we’d rather not use chemicals.
Wild Onion & Wild Garlic: Both are perennials with an underground bulb and a tall, grassy appearance. The key to eliminating them is to remove as much of the bulb clump as possible—dig, don’t pull, as bulblets will naturally separate. You can also treat with boiling water or chemical intervention with a non-selective herbicide.
Spotted Spurge: A summer annual with red-spotted leaves. Spurge is quite easy to kill with selective broadleaf control or heavy mulching. However, as it ages, the taproot gets stronger, making it easier for the weed to come back. At that point, the best plan of attack is digging it up.
Plantains: Larger weeds with waxy, oval leaves and stalk-like branches. They are best destroyed with pulling or digging by hand.
Corn Speedwell: Particularly persistent low-growing rosettes with small, purple flowers and a hardy, fibrous root system. As they are pretty resistant to weed control products, your best defense is a thick and healthy lawn. Mow regularly and be sure to remove all clippings when you’re finished.
Buttonweed: This deep-rooted, branchy perennial offers thick leaves and white flowers with four distinctive petals. The weed prefers areas that are moist or wet, so drying out the area can help in eradicating it.
White Clover: A low-growing perennial with white, globe-shaped flowers that are very attractive to bees! Clover prefers growing in areas low in nitrogen, so a proper feeding schedule is often enough to prevent it from popping up. If you don’t mind them, clover is a good grass alternative in the lawn. It’s dense enough to choke out other weeds, it stays short, and adds nutrients back into the soil.
Crabgrass: This quickly-spreading grass grows in ugly, thick clumps in thin areas, especially where the lawn was mowed too short. A thick and healthy lawn helps choke it out.
With the right tools and treatments, preventing a weed infestation can be simple. But if the weeds still come knocking at your door this year, take them out swiftly and effectively with these tips and tricks.
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