Weeds are the archnemesis of beautiful, green lawns. By definition, a weed is considered to be any plant that grows where you do not want it to grow. Weed control exists because even the best-kept lawns can fall under attack from common weeds. Weeds are a common challenge when it comes to home landscaping and even the best gardeners and landscapers continually combat these persistent pests.
Weed seed can be transported via a multitude of channels including wind, water, animals, soil amendments, poor quality grass seed and lawn and garden equipment. Since weed seeds are transported through the wind and air, they can pollinate nearby grounds causing the weeds you thought you had killed to start to grow again. Weed seeds can remain dormant for several years before they begin to grow, considering need to reach the soil’s surface and get proper sunlight and moisture before they germinate. The health of your lawn and its ability to sustain depends on the weeds that have grown and how you choose to respond to them. You are best equipped to fight weed invasion when you can identify common weeds and the ways to successfully get rid of them.
What is Weed Control?
Weed Control is the botanical component of pest control, which attempts to stop weeds, especially noxious or injurious weeds, from competing with desired flora and fauna, this includes domesticated plants and livestock, and in natural settings, it includes stopping non local species competing with native, local, species, especially so in reserves and heritage areas.
Types of Weeds
There are three main classifications of weeds:
- Annuals grow and produce seeds, then die within a single year. Some annuals may survive a second year in warmer climates. For annual weeds are the easiest to kill.
- Biennials live for two years. First year is vegetative development and the second year is flowering and seed development.
- Perennials live from season to season and produce seeds annually.
Weed Control Methods
By definition, weed control is a botanical component of pest control, that stops weeds from reaching a mature stage of growth when they could be harmful to domesticated plants, sometimes livestock, by using manual techniques including soil cultivation, mulching, and herbicides. The best way to prevent weeds may be to grow a lush and healthy lawn, but chances are they will still sprout. Fortunately, there are a few proven methods for reducing and controlling weeds.
Weed Control By Hand
Manually removing unwanted weeds by hand or with garden tools is the most selective and environmentally friendly way to control weeds. Here are some tips to keep in mind when using this weed control method:
- It is exponentially easier to remove them after a good rainfall.
- Attack a weed as soon as it shows up.
- Pull at the base, lifting out as much root as possible.
- For larger weeds with extensive roots, like thistles and dandelions, use a garden fork, spike or slim trowel.
Weed Control & Prevention By Herbicides
Since manual weed removal isn’t a practical method for large areas or places that are overgrown with weeds. In these cases, the best option may be to use herbicides. When done properly, herbicides are extremely effective at combating weed invasion and eliminating weeds. There are two types of herbicides:
- Systemic herbicides enter the plant through the roots and leaves and travel through the inside of the plant.
- Contact herbicides kill from the outside and work their way in. By attacking the exposed parts of the plant, contact herbicides kill the weed by reducing its ability to feed itself through the process of photosynthesis.
Within these two categories, herbicides may also be selective or nonselective:
- Selective herbicides, kill only certain plants and only work when you applied as directed. These products remove weeds without killing the lawn where the weeds grow.
- Nonselective herbicides k kill all plants they come into contact with. These are best used when preparing to establish a new lawn. When used, all living vegetation can be removed from an area, which gives you a clean slate to work with.
Lastly, herbicides are either pre-emergent or post-emergent and the timing of application is crucial. Application too late or early only wastes the herbicide.
- Pre-emergent herbicides are designed for application before the targeted weed germinates, and are an effective preventative method for controlling weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides establish a chemical barrier that doesn’t kill established plants but are great when used for preventative measures. The protective barrier breaks down in six to eight weeks, therefore requiring proper timing to be effective. It is a best practice to apply them early in the season. Use caution during application because pre-emergents may harm some plants and turf grasses.
- Post-emergent herbicides are designed to attack weeds that are already growing. All contact weed killers are post-emergents. It is a best practice to apply post-emergents later in the growing season after weeds have grown but before they seed.