Tips for Taming Stubborn Weeds
Ask any homeowner what their biggest annoyance is when it comes to taking care of their yard, and they’ll likely tell you “weeds.” Not only can weeds be ugly and make your yard look neglected, they can also create competition for resources and prevent the healthy lawns that homeowners want on their property.
So how do you get rid of stubborn weeds? There are plenty of options for weed control, and with some elbow grease and diligence, you can keep your yard relatively weed-free.
Understanding How Weeds Work
Understanding how weeds work is the first step to effectively eliminating them from your yard.
There are two types of weeds based on their life cycle:
- Annual Weeds: These weeds germinate, grow, produce seed and die within one growing seed. They spread via seeds, so the key to controlling those plants is preventing seed germination and growth. This can be challenging because some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for years, waiting for the perfect time to germinate.
- Perennial weeds: These weeds, on the other hand, keep coming back year after year unless they are killed or removed at the source. This can be challenging due to the presence of roots and other structures in the soil from which they grow each year. For example, dandelions have deep tap roots (like carrots), so you must get rid of the entire plant or it will return. Removing just the top part of the plant leaves enough for it to regenerate. Other weeds spread underground, meaning that any efforts to till the ground or cut the roots will only encourage new growth.
It’s important to know what type of weeds you are dealing with before you begin any eradication efforts. If you aren’t sure how to get rid of weeds, it’s best to bring in a professional to look at your lawn or garden to determine the weeds you have and the course of action for removing them. You’ll avoid unnecessary work and expense while getting rid of the stubborn plants once and for all.
Weeds take hold when they have access to the resources (water, sunlight, soil nutrients) that help them grow. Creating competition is one of the best ways to choke out weeds, as grasses will compete for water, nutrients and space. A healthy dense grass doesn’t leave room for weeds to establish and grow.
Care for Your Lawn
Taking good care of your lawn can also keep stubborn weeds at bay. With healthy soil, fertilization and good watering practices, you create a healthy, dense lawn that won’t allow weeds to grow.
When applied correctly, the choice of weed killer for lawns can also make a difference. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent certain annual weeds from taking hold, while post-emergent herbicides can kill existing plants (like dandelions) without hurting the surrounding grass. If you aren’t sure which herbicides to use, check with a lawn care professional for a thorough analysis and recommendation.
Finally, giving your lawn enough water without overwatering and cutting about a third of each blade off when mowing can help your grass stay healthy and prevent weeds from taking over. When it comes to weed control, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
Natural Weed Killers
If you only have a small patch of weeds or you want to get rid of the invaders in your flower or vegetable garden, there are a few natural approaches that have been proven effective. If you want to save time weeding, try one of these tricks:
- Dig weeds by hand. It can be tedious, but digging or pulling weeds by hand is often effective. Just be sure to get all of the roots or the weeds will return.
- Pour boiling water on weeds, which can burn them. This tends to be most effective on walkways and in the cracks of the driveway.
Again, these approaches are more effective at getting rid of small areas of weeds and those that aren’t well established. Taking care of the problem early can prevent the weeds from becoming stubborn problems in the future.
Keeping your lawn and gardens free of weeds is an ongoing chore, and you might never get rid of every single plant entirely. But by dealing with weeds before they take hold, using the right combination of lawn weed killers and getting rid of the entire plant when you remove them, you should be able to enjoy a mostly weed-free yard.