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Weeding: Knowing Your Enemy

Weeding and Weed Control Part 1

For a gardener or farmer, controlling the germination and growth of weeds is paramount to our success. Weeding and weed control have become a chore, dare I say war, that we fight every day in the garden. In this series of posts, I’ll cover all aspects of weeding, and hopefully provide some insight on gaining the upper hand on this evel that sprouts in our midst ;).

What is a weed?

I think it is always good to get a level set whenever discussing a topic like weeding. What is a weed? Ask the question in a room full of 100 gardeners, and you will get 100 answers. So here is a good one (I think), that can be the basis of these articles:

A weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted

For some gardeners that might be Bermuda grass, or dandelion. One that I designate a weed: Bells of Ireland. I love this plant for our flower bouquets, but it proliferates and blows all over our property and pops up everywhere. Weeds interfere with how we want to use the land and can consume resources (water and nutrients), create health problems and make our landscapes look shoddy.

Weeds: Advantages and Disadvantages

Most backyard gardeners would argue that weeds have no distinct advantages, but here is a quick list:

  • Reduction in soil erosion
  • Natural habitat for animals and birds
  • Dust reduction
  • Organic matter for soil
  • Source of chemicals
  • Food source

They have their place in the environment…just not in our gardens and crop fields :). Now we get on to the disadvantages:

  • Competition for desired plants (water, nutrients, soil space, air, sunlight, etc)
  • Source of allergens
  • Host to bugs and pathogens
  • Thick cover for pests (mice, grasshoppers, etc.)
  • Prolific seeders and expansion

Weed Classification

A key to understanding how to control weeds is the ability to classify and identify your weed type. If you can identify, you can provide control methods that will help in your weeding quest. Weed can be grouped into two main classes:

  • Broadleaf
  • Grasses

This general classification gives you a starting point from a weed control perspective. Secondly, the task is to determine whether the weed is an annual or a perennial.

Stay tuned for the next article where I’ll cover the 4 classic weeding methods.

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