How to Control Common Weeds in the Garden

Posted August 15, 2019 in Landscape Maintenance

Common weeds in the garden are a nuisance, a problem, an annoyance and hard on your back when you’re trying to bend down and pull them, but did you know they are an excellent interpreter of your soil too? Before you remove one more weed, take note of what type it is and ask it, ‘What are you trying to tell me?’ This week’s blog will explain how to control weeds in the garden by taking some steps to make them uninhabitable for the long term. So for now, sit back and take notes while we explore what your weeds are trying to tell you!

The Behavior of Weeds in the Garden

If weeds were people in a classroom, they’d want to be the rabble-rousers and the bullies. Common weeds in the garden have some similar behaviors.

1. Rich seed production:  Most produce thousands of seeds that distribute over a large area by wind and animals and can wreak havoc for years to come.
2. Long dormancy survival:  Weed seeds can stay dormant below the surface of the soil for quite some time. If soil is disturbed or overturned, those dormant seeds will germinate into living nuisances and create more havoc for the gardener. It seems like a never-ending job of controlling them.
3. Stabilize Quickly and Spread:  If a weed seed finds a good home in your soil and the conditions are right for germination, they take root and proliferate their misery far and wide.

How to Control Common Weeds in the Garden

These common weeds give the gardener information that otherwise might not be known, tell you what to expect and what’s going on beneath the surface. Read on to see what your soil is indicating and what maintenance tips we recommend.

Crabgrass

Crabgrass if left on its own, can grow upwards of 2 feet tall, so it’s best to manage it before it gets too high by cutting it before it seeds. If left to seed, the dormant seeds are viable for up to 3 years in the soil…yikes!

Soil indications for Crabgrass

While it will die at the end of the season, crabgrass thrives in compacted soil where there is a depletion of nutrients and low calcium levels.

How to Eradicate Crabgrass

Crabgrass shouldn’t be an ongoing issue with a little due diligence: apply a preemergent herbicide before germination begins in early spring, apply a post-emergent after germination and fertilize your lawn and garden with organic natural products that your soil will absorb slowly. Follow up this regime by watering your turf thoroughly each week to a depth of 6-8 inches. In direct result of these actions, the roots of the lawn will thrive and cause an uninhabitable place for crabgrass seeds to germinate. Annual aeration and overseeding in the fall months will add oxygen to the roots of your soil, loosening the compaction.

Mouse-ear Chickweed-Cerastium fontanum ssp. vulgare

Mouse-ear chickweed is a short-lived perennial weed in lawns, but it is all too familiar in our backyards! Producing through seed or rootstock, these weeds with white flowers thrive in cool, moist environments and produce upwards of 800 seeds and take almost ten years to eradicate.

Soil indications for Mouse-ear Chickweed

If you have this common weed in the garden with white flowers, it indicates your soil is rich and high in nitrogen, sweet and compacted.

How to Eradicate Mouse-ear Chickweed

Before it goes to seed, hand pull it since it has shallow root (be sure to retrieve all the roots) and aerate the soil to lessen compaction. If you find this weed in a vegetable garden, plant nitrogen feeding plants such as tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli to retrieve the abundant nitrogen in the soil…a real win-win when you harvest yummy veggies in return!

Dandelion

While you can blow their weed seeds and make a wish, the wish might not be what you were hoping for tomorrow! These perennial weeds grow very large taproots. They like to stay put so eradicating them with a hand pulling methods isn’t that easy. Even the slightest of rootstock left behind will make all your efforts futile. Serious gardeners know this one is a thug and needs serious determination to eradicate.

Soil indications for Dandelions

If you have an infestation of dandelions, it indicates your soil is low in calcium and high in potassium. Compaction is to blame for a lot of weeds, including this one, too.

How to Eradicate Dandelion

To start the process of saying sayonara to your yard’s dandelions, put a plan together with your trusted property maintenance specialist that starts with using pre-emergent in the spring and continue with regular turf fertilization maintenance. Building a dense turf will shade the soil surface and reduce those wind-borne seeds from germinating.  Be proactive by keeping the plant from going to seed with timely cuttings, aerate the soil each year and overseed in areas where the turf isn’t lush.

Soil fertilization and health is the catalyst for all things to grow healthy. Keep it balanced with not too much of one mineral or nutrient and well-watered in the garden. Adding a regular fertilization schedule will help keep the common weeds in the garden at bay as well as keep your turf and garden happy too.

Partner with MasterPLAN

Serving the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN Outdoor Living would love to partner with you in your very own backyard transformation to create a space that helps you fall in love with your property all over again!

From custom full-color 3 dimensional designs to full project management and installation, we understand that not everyone is a maintenance specialist.  When you partner with MasterPLAN, we want to make sure your project stands the test of time, that’s why we also offer our Property Maintenance service so you can spend more time enjoying your outdoor living spaces than maintaining them!  We would love to experience this journey together, so when you are ready to recognize the full potential of your property, reach out to MasterPLAN; we would love to welcome you into the family!

Resources:

Common Weeds

Indicator Plants

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