• Kelly Guerrero

What To Do About Weeds

Weeds are the one thing we can all count on that will always grow.  Our shrubs might struggle, our turf doesn't grow year-round. Somehow, the weeds always find a way to thrive.  If you don't have our Platinum Service Package - you'll need to come up with a plan to manage weeds on your own.  Let's talk about weed management.  

Weeds mixed in the grass:  The first management decision is selecting the best turf species or variety for a particular area. For example, moderately shaded areas support only a few turfgrass species. Growing Bermuda grass or Bahia grass under any shade results in a thin, weak turf that is very susceptible to weed invasion. Alternate grass choices for shady conditions include certain cultivars of St. Augustine grass, Zoysia grass, and, to a lesser degree, centipede grass. It is important to note that no grasses perform well in heavily shaded areas, and an alternative to the turf, such as a ground cover, should be considered.  Proper water and fertilization are essential to keep your turfgrass weed-free.  If you've resigned yourself to the fact that your grass has weeds, then mowing is the most effective way to keep them in check.  Please note that our platinum package plus the fertilization service is the only option we offer to take care of weeds in the grass. 

Weeds in landscape beds

Let sleeping weeds lie - Kill weeds at their roots but leave the soil—and dormant weed seeds—largely undisturbed. Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface, so assume weed seeds are there ready to erupt, like ants from an upset anthill, every time you open a patch of ground. Dig only when you need to and immediately salve the disturbed spot with plants or mulch. 

Mulch, mulch, mulch

Don’t give weeds the chance to see the light. Whether you choose wood chips, bark nuggets, straw, or even pine needles, keep the mulch coming to smother out weeds. Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches, in particular, can actually host crickets and carabid beetles, which seek out and devour thousands of weed seeds.  Some light passes through chunky mulches, and often you will discover—too late—that the mulch you used was laced with weed seeds. It’s important to replenish the mulch as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep (more than 3 inches deep can deprive the soil of oxygen). In any case, you can set weeds way back by covering the soil’s surface with a light-blocking sheet of cardboard, newspaper, or biode­gradable fabric and then spreading prettier mulch over it.  If you choose to use this method on seldom-dug areas, such as the root zones of shrubs and trees, opt for tough landscape fabric for the light-blocking bottom sheet. There is a catch, however: As soon as enough organic matter accumulates on the landscape fabric, weed seeds dropped by birds or carried in on the wind will start to grow. For the bottom layer of fabric to be effective, these must be pulled before they sink their roots through and into the ground.

Weed when the weeding’s good:  Young weeds go down much easier than older ones, so make the most of good weeding conditions. The old saying “Pull when wet; hoe when dry” is wise advice when facing down weeds. After a drenching rain, stage a rewarding weeding session by equipping yourself with gloves, a sitting pad, and a trug or tarp for collecting the corpses. As you head out the door, slip an old table fork into your back pocket because there’s nothing better for twisting out tendrils of henbit or chickweed. When going after bigger thugs, use a fishtail weeder to pry up tap-rooted weeds, like dandelion or dock.  Under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. In mulched beds, use an old steak knife to sever weeds from their roots, then patch any open spaces left in the mulch.

Herbicides such as Round-Up can be used in planting beds but with extreme caution.  It's important to remember that herbicides like Roundup should only be applied when rainfall isn't expected within the next few hours.  Rain will weaken the effectiveness of the Roundup and can cause damage to surrounding plants and grass.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. 

Water the plants you want, not the weeds you’ve got: Drip irrigation is the way to go for a quick way to water your plants and not your weeds. Watering by hand works, too, but it’s often tedious. Put drought on your side by depriving weeds of water. Placing drip or soaker hoses beneath mulch efficiently irrigates plants while leaving nearby weeds thirsty. In most climates, depriving weeds of water reduces weed-seed germination by 50 to 70 percent. Watch out, though, for the appearance of deeply rooted perennial weeds, such as bindweed and nutsedge, in areas that are kept moist. They can take off in a flash when given the benefits of drip irrigation.

Beyond these strategies, enriching your soil with organic matter every chance you get can move your garden along down the weed-free path. Soil scientists aren’t sure how it works, but fewer weed seeds germinate in soil that contains fresh infusions of good compost or organic matter. One theory makes elegantly simple sense: When soil is healthy and well-fed, weed seeds sense that they are out of a job and are less likely to appear.

If weeding is one chore you absolutely don't want on your plate, please give us a call today for a free quote!  If you have our mowing only service you'll find that for just a few dollars more, you can upgrade to our Platinum Service Package, and we can cross this task off your honey-do list.  

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