Some people call them weeds, other just say plants growing in the wrong place. They seem to sprout overnight and can grow flowers that emerge in a heartbeat. Recent rains have resulted in vigorous growth. If left unchecked can steal water and nutrients from neighboring plants. Where do they come? What can be done to gain control so that they do not take over your garden? Read on for tips to control these pesky troublesome creepers.
Weed seeds arrive in your yard either by wind or are carried in the birds. They could be brought to the playground equipment, grass seed, organic soil ground cover or cracks in cement. They can also ride on shoes, clothes or even on the skin of pets.
The two basic groups of weeds are grasses and broadleaf weeds. Some seeds and shoots grow, flower, produce seed and die within a season. These are known as annual weeds.
Perennial weeds can live for several years.
The control methods you choose will depend on what type of weed in question.
If you only have a few weeds in a relatively small area, mechanical removal is often the most desirable. This can be accomplished with sharp hoes, shovels, or hand-trough. This exercise is good – even therapeutic. If herbicide applications are warranted, it is important to select one that will focus on the weeds in question and not to damage the surrounding vegetation. If you use grass murderer on crabgrass or nutsedge growing in the hybrid Bermuda grass, it won’t discriminate and will kill all the grass that the contacts. A broad spectrum herbicide can kill anything green it touches.
In gravel areas both annual and perennial weeds can be controlled by applying a post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergent which means that controls the weeds which have germinated and are growing. The most common application contains glyphosate or glufosinate as the active ingredients on the label. These herbicides work for translocation of the product through the roots to the leaves where they interfere with the growth process. Control is achieved best when applied to young plants. These two products are not selective, which means it will kill any vegetation growing in both grass and broadleaf plants.
In areas of lawn in the best control of weeds is healthy turf. Any chemical weed control should be practiced only on well established lawns, as newly installed or seeded lawns are often injured by weed control agents. Spot treatment with glyphosate is effective especially in winter, on the dormant Bermuda grass.
Pre-emergents work very well in preventing weed germination and work best in areas of gravel. Do not use a pre-emergent if you plan to establish a Bermuda lawn from seed. The same occurs in the fall if overseeding the hybrid Bermuda grass or Bermuda – which will prevent the seeds of winter rye grass from germinating! Many pre-emergents are available at your local nursery store or home improvement center. For example, a common pre-emergent herbicide has a chemical name: 3, 5-dintro-N4, N4-dipropylsulfanilamide. The chemical name is oryzalin. Ask the sales staff at your local hardware store or nursery for help if you are unsure which product is a pre-emergent. Apply twice a year in April for summer weeds, and September for weed control in winter. Ultimately, the climate and seasonality will be different in different regions of our country.
Caution: Some products are labeled to kill total vegetation. These products kill all existing vegetation, but also can remain in soil for many years and leach into surrounding areas and seriously affect or kill the plants there. If you have an area in your garden where nothing grows, a killer of vegetation could have been applied in the past.
Be careful when using products containing 2-4-D. These are designed to be applied when temperatures are below 80 degrees or less. On warm days, this product volatilizes (becomes a gas) and can cause damage to surrounding vegetation, as it moves through the air.
Always follow label instructions exactly! We sometimes think that if a little is good, more is better. The average homeowner applies 9 times more chemicals to their property than that of a farmer on land the same size. With herbicides and insecticides, it can be deadly – to plants, pets and humans. Wear protective clothing and avoid skin contact with the product.