The War On Weeds

In any war it is important to have a strategy and that includes the gardener’s “War On Weeds”. I don’t think it is possibly to have a garden that is perpetually weed free, so I don’t know that it is possible to truly win the war. I am going to share some tips, though, that might help you win some of the battles.

The Plan Of Attack

We have learned over the years that pulling weeds when the soil is moist is the best approach. When the soil is dry the roots are reaching deep into the earth searching for water. This makes digging them difficult and pulling them next to impossible. When the soil is moist the roots are relaxed and can be pulled out much easier. Weeding in the morning when the soil is moist or after a rain will make your work much easier.

Keep Your Enemy In Check

Most plants will reproduce by forming flowers or seed heads. In order to keep the plants from multiplying (often exponentially) remove the weed before it forms flowers or goes to seed.

Know Your Enemy

Being able to identify the type of weed and how it grows can be most helpful in ridding it permanently from your garden. Plants that are annuals and are pulled or cut before they go to seed should be gone for good. Other plants that are biennial (taking two years to mature) or perennial (come back every year) will need to have their entire root removed otherwise they will continue to grow back. Some perennial’s, like Canadian thistle and sow thistle, have roots systems that run horizontally under ground. When the shoot/plant is pulled and detached from the horizontal root it will, in a quest for survival, send up several more shoots. (A loosing battle.) However cutting the shoot/plant at ground level will deprive it of the ability to perform photosynthesis. That particular shoot may grow back and need to be cut another time or two before the plant (root) dies.

In the past we have had much success in getting rid of thistles from lawn or field areas by mowing the area throughout the summer. This year as I weed my prayer garden I am on a mission to eradicate thistles, so I am cutting them with the intention of coming back once a week to cut any that are starting to grow back. Wish me luck!

Happy gardening! πŸ™‚

50 thoughts on “The War On Weeds

  1. Excellent post Ruth – biggest weed here is bindweed Calystegia sepium/Convolvulus arvensis – constantly battle against – l don’t dislike many weeds and can be happy to have some around, but this bugger strangles almost everything it touches. So we have to dig it out on the root, it doesn’t even have any real purpose except to piss off gardeners totally. I tend to mulch with a good blanket depth of around 3″ but bindweed will still come through that.

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    1. I am not sure if we have bindweed here. If we do I have yet to identify it. You my have guessed one of our biggest problems is thistle. It does have some purposes such as feeding bees and other pollinators and the canaries like it’s seed. I don’t mind it growing in some areas but in the garden it’s a real throne in the side. LOL!

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      1. Hey Ruth, yes thistles are a pain, we have them here also, the sow thistle is a common garden variety whilst the big thistles which produce the lovely teasles are only usually in seriously overgrown gardens over here as they are more of a field thistle. The teasles dry up nicely though and make for some great home decs especially if mixed with pot pouri.

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      2. We have few teasles but a lot of Canadian thistle and sow thistle. The Canadian thistle is the one that the bees and canaries love but also have sharp thorns. Both have horizontal roots running under ground so are very difficult to get rid of in the garden.

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      3. I ordered some one year from a specialty seed company but they were sold out and sent me a substitute seed. You won’t find them in the stores since most people are trying to eradicate them. They do have both nutritional and medicinal benefits. Great for allergies and more.

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      4. That’s very generous of you Rory but I since I already have a few plants I will collect the seeds later this summer and plant them. I have another option as well. We have a park nearby that has a large patch of them. I could go there and dig up some roots to replant – it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it. But Thank you Rory and I will keep your offer in mind incase my attempts fail. πŸ™‚

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      5. Always a pleasure Ruth – good luck. If you can gather the seeds is the best bet, when they are green is the time to do it. A lot of people gather when they are brown, but they are dead then πŸ™‚

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  2. We currently have the young guy down the street using a rototiller attachment to his weed whacker that seems to be getting the weeds up but then what? I might try that newspaper trick to stop them from growing back, or landscape fabric maybe?

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    1. If you will be planting the area annually I would rake out as many plant roots as possible then use several layers of newspaper as it will break down over the course of the year. The landscape fabric wont break down as quickly and in order to put plants in you will have to cut through it.

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  3. Go get ’em! πŸ™‚ I have found that putting a ton of shredded leaves on beds in fall/winter also help with removing weeds in spring/summer. We also lay down newspaper (wet it so it doesn’t blow everywhere) and cover with grass clippings or mulch. Great help for weeds. It takes a good amount of newspapser, so we ask our neighbor who also takes a paper to save them for us. πŸ™‚

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  4. Well, you had plenty of rain to do all your weeding tomorrow Ruth (if not for the next few days) – that’s for sure. I can sympathize over the thistles for sure. A neighbor about 20 years ago had multiple finch feeders and after I asked her to please not put her basset hound Sadie out in the morning at 3:30-3:45 as it bayed under my bedroom window, they both took an attitude and took their finch feeders and threw the spent seed (which undoubtedly contained good seed as well) in the side of my yard. I had horrible thistles and the only way to get rid of them is to spade down and open the dirt up as the roots grow horizontally as you probably know. You have to kill off the runners or you’ll never get rid of them – it took years to get rid of them for good (only because Sadie and her parents moved to a different house).

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    1. It may even be too wet (muddy) for weeding after all that rain. I will probably have to wait a day or two for it to dry up a bit. That’s a good point about bird seed introducing weeds. Sometimes we can create our own problems without realizing that we are doing it. I’m sorry that you had such a vengeful neighbor.

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      1. I was happy to see them go Ruth – I tried everything to get rid of those thistles and in hot and humid weather like we’ve had the last few days, those thistles grew tall in a week’s time (I usually did the big part of yardwork on weekends all Summer) … I had a big job out there to do every week. My mom bought me a gizmo called a “Weed Hound” that made it and dandelions easier to get rid of. I’m looking forward to a cool walk this morning – it will not be flooded at the Park as the Creek sits below the walking path.

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      2. It looks like “Weed Hound” has been purchased by Ames yard tools … this is what it looks like … I was much younger and complained of getting down on my knees or haunching and so my mom saw this device advertised somewhere (Home Depot I think, Lowes was not around yet at the time) and we went and got it. You can stand up and jab and get the weeds.

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  5. I have been digging out grass to plant ground cover on the hillside. It is a huge undertaking and definitely one I can only manage when the ground is wet. The Tennessee red dirt ( clay) and rocks are impossible to work in when the ground is dry. If we have a dry spell I found that soaking it down with a hose helps.

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    1. It sounds like a huge undertaking and one that will keep you busy for a while. Will you be adding topsoil before planting your ground cover. I’m sure it will be beautiful when you get it finished. πŸ™‚

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      1. Yep, we bought a pallet of topsoil when we made the strawberry bed. It is alot different from what I am used to in Michigan. It is alot dryer almost mulch like. Strawberry plants are gone for the season. Everything is much earlier here. I may use the strawberry bed for green beans. Then plant.strawberries next spring

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    1. I love wild roses for their fragrance and their rose hips but any plant can become a weed if it is growing where you don’t want it. I would cut it down to ground level (make sure it has no leaves) then if it grows back up cut it again. Starving it of sunlight should eventually kill it.

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  6. I’m happy to tell you that someone recently told me about pulling weeds after a rain. We had the rain many times, and I did the pull! I am going to read again the bit about which weeds to cut.

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    1. Ruth and Anne – I was scrolling down the other night to leave my comment and saw your exchange about weeds. After spending all last weekend and the weekend before last in the garden, I was dismayed to see the heat mid-week and rain have caused a lot of weeds – I intended to take this weekend off. I must amend my time off and factor in 30 minutes of nips and pulls instead. In that vein, I had to share that tomorrow is “National Weed Your Garden Day”. πŸ™‚
      https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56504789/posts/2754977700

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      1. I have to go out again today Anne … I thought you and Ruth would get a kick out of that. I have to get rid of the dead canes on the rosebush and take a saw to two elm seeds that grew into small trees. I may do it tomorrow and just carry all the yard waste out to the curb then – otherwise, I’ll nod off early tonight and I want to get next week’s posts done for Father’s Day week coming up … I finally got duckling photos (9 ducklings and their mom at Council Point Park) and a sweet little bunny. Hopefully the pics came out as I already did the narrative. πŸ™‚ I knew you’d be inspired to do some weeding – ugh, weeding. I’m off to enjoy myself now … looking forward to it.

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      2. Thanks for the laugh Linda. These National days are crazy. I mean what does Random Acts Of Light even mean? and when I see Kitchen Klutzes all I can picture is broken dishes, spilled milk, grease fires and severed fingers. Not really something I want to celebrate. LOL! I do plan on getting some weeding done today and anyone who might want to celebrate this would be welcome to join me. Have a great day, My Friends!

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      3. Ha ha – they have some really crazy days to be sure. I have been following a few years and honestly rarely use any of the posts (they publish their post about 9:00 p.m. the day before). It’s hard to put a fancy or fun spin on weeding – it is what it is. I was out there today and tomorrow going to look up the recipe for Dawn dishwashing liquid and vinegar which works to kill weeds, though it does not kill the root. I am really far behind here – going to bed at 9:15 on a Saturday night did that to me … had a long walk yesterday. The weather has been picture-perfect … I am sorry to hear the muggies are coming back mid-week.

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  7. Thanks for the tips! I don’t have a big garden at the moment but I have experienced gardening back when I was living with my parents… I’m gonna make sure to remember your pointers when I get home.

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