Battle of the Weeds
As you look around your home area with the recent warm weather and spring rains, you will notice a variety of plants growing that are not in your landscape design. These plants are commonly called weeds. There are many definitions of what a weed is. One of the best answers is simply “a plant out of place or an unwanted plant”.
Weeds around the home are a general nuisance, mar the natural beauty of the landscape, and decrease the value or marketability of residential properties. Weeds ruin lawns, gardens, and flowerbeds. Some weeds even grow through blacktop. Weeds may cause hay fever, be a fire hazard, and harbor insects or diseases. They cause flat tires, puncture bare feet, and cause skin irritation.
Pets also are affected by weeds. Seeds or burs tangled in a pet’s hair are unsightly and irritating. Sharp or barbed weed seeds may enter their ears, nose, or eyes causing great discomfort or injury. Often a veterinarian is needed to remove the seeds.
Much of the damage caused by weeds around homes can be prevented, but considerable effort is required. Persistence and patience are the keys to successful weed control. The following are some methods and general rules for weed control.
Prevention. Weed control in gardens must begin with prevention. For example, barnyard manure is a good source of fertilizer and organic matter but it can also be a source of weed seeds. Thorough composting can significantly reduce the number of live weed seeds in manure.
Mechanical. Most experienced vegetable gardeners consider it best to control weeds primarily by mechanical means. Hoeing, cultivation, mulching, or hand weeding provide adequate control of most weeds in a garden. Consistent, careful cultivation or hoeing will eliminate most weed problems and prevent weed seed production. Remove weeds when they are small and easy to control, and before competition with vegetables becomes significant. Control weeds within vegetable rows by hand pulling when weeds are small. Waiting until later to pull large weeds will damage the roots of nearby vegetables and reduce productivity.
Mulching. One effective method of controlling weeds in gardens is the application of mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help maintain soil moisture and prevent soil crusting. Mulches also keep soil temperatures cool and keep vegetables cleaner. Examples of organic mulch materials include partially decomposed hay, straw, wood chips, sawdust, lawn clippings, or leaves. A layer of organic mulch from 1 to 6 inches deep may be needed to effectively control weeds.
Herbicides. It is difficult to use herbicides in the home garden where many different vegetables are grown within a small area, because no herbicide is suitable for all garden vegetables. Some herbicide residues may remain sufficiently long in the soil that there is danger of herbicidal damage to other vegetables rotated into a treated area the following year. If using any herbicide in a vegetable garden, carefully read and follow all label information.
General Rules for Weed Control:
· Don’t let weeds go to seed.
· Kill weeds when they are young.
· Weeding is a good family project.
· Good management will keep out most weeds.
· Before using anyherbicide read the label.
· Just because a little herbicide is good doesn’t mean a lot is better.
· Herbicides are safe if used according to label directions.
· Weed control doesn’t cost, it pays.
· One year’s seeding equals seven year’s weeding (old adage).
For more information about weed control go to the USU/Juab county website http://extension.usu.edu/juab or call 435-623-3450.