Wrangle the Weeds

The average plot of garden soil is a virtual weed bank where falling seeds have already accumulated for years. Add to this seeds brought every day by wind, birds and animals, and it’s obvious why keeping a garden weed-free requires patience and perseverance.

Pre-emergent herbicides are one means of keeping up with weeds. Stop them before they start by applying in February for warm season weeds and September for cool season weeds for best control.

On the other hand, good, old-fashioned yard work can be very effective at keeping weeds under control.

  1. Till the area to eliminate existing runners, bulbs and rhizomes before planting or sowing.
  2. Mow annual grassy weeds before they release their seeds.
  3. Cover your garden beds with materials such as pine bark, straw, wood chips, gravel, mats or stones.

Post-emergent herbicides are the traditional method of managing weeds: See a weed; then spray it! Many homeowners think if a little is good, a lot must be better. But most modern herbicides manipulate plant physiology by disrupting hormones or cellular processes, so a little works just fine.

If you prefer the nonchemical method of weed control, frequent mowing two to three times a week will control weeds. Above all, avoid watering bare soil, especially if you’re using automatic irrigation. This just encourages weeds to grow. Use drip irrigation to deliver water only where it’s needed.

Weeds are natural in the landscape, but perseverance and energy can reduce these noxious pests.

Picture of David Abrego
David Abrego
David Abrego is a conservation consultant for SAWS. David, a native of Panama, likes to spend his time surrounded by plants and fruit trees. So if you can’t find him at home, he’s probably working in a greenhouse. David is also an arborist and an irrigation technician.
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