Weed Control In General
Have you had just enough of the weeds growing in your flower bed? I know I have. As an avid gardener with many other plates spinning in the air, I simply do not have the time to get out in the yard and hand pick these weeds or even mix up a batch of chemicals, walk through the yard and spray each weed individually hoping to kill them.
There are lots of reasons why we shouldn't let weeds grow in our landscape, but the major problem they cause are aesthetics. Weeds particularly in flower beds, shrub plantings and ground covers cause the landscape to look very unattractive and neglected even when the lawn is nicely mowed and edged and everything else looks very neat. Weed beds ruin the appearance of a good landscape.
Weeds can also be destructive. Allow a weeded vine such as bush killer vine to grow over a bush for several months you will find that sections of the shrub have been shaded out and been killed.
Weeded and regularly mowed lawns usually don't create the unattractive look they do in beds, but they do diminish the even uniform look that is desired of our lawns and some weeds, if left unchecked can out compete turfgrass and damage the lawn requiring costly repair work.
One of the areas of gardening I get asked the most questions about is weed control in landscapes and lawns. I frequently hear the comment it seems like this weed just took off out of nowhere and suddenly became a major problem. If we were honest with ourselves, however, we have to admit that weed problems do not happen overnight or in the matter of a few days or even a few weeks. Serious weed problems occur primarily when there is a chronic neglect and when not enough effective effort is made to bring them under control.
There are many methods that we can employ to get rid of weeds. The first is the use of herbicides. Herbicides usually come in three different categories, and first there is the non-selective herbicides. These will kill whatever you apply them to. These are usual for killing everything in a large area prior to planting or they can be applied specifically just to the weed without getting any on the desired plants, this is called spot treating.
Next there are selective herbicides. These particular products will kill some weeds while leaving other plants alone. There are many different types of selective herbicides. There are some that kill grasses, some that kill broad leaf weeds. Understanding what type weed you have and where it is located in your garden is going to be critical to identifying which chemical to use. And lastly there are systemic herbicides, their applied to the foliage and absorb into the plants circulatory system. They kill all parts of weeds including parts not directly sprayed such as rhizomes or bulbs which are below the ground and are the best choice for parental weeds.
Even though herbicides work if you don't employ any sort of cultural practices to manage the weeds, they will tend to come back with a vengeance. Through the proper use of mulches and products like landscaping fabrics you will be able to dramatically reduce the amount of weed pressure in your garden and the use of herbicide. You can possibly completely eliminate herbicides from your arsenal of tools if managed properly and consistently.
In my personal garden, I prefer to use brown cardboard instead of landscaping fabric. It's a little crazy I know, but I collect and store brown cardboard in my shed until I'm ready to re-mulch a bed. I will then completely rake out the bed and pull all the large weeds and then work the cardboard in between the shrubs to cover as much of the bare ground as possible with cardboard. Next I will take the mulch and spread it back into the garden, then lightly freshen the mulch with some new material. Using the cardboard will reduce gardening cost, reduce weeds and will eventually break down adding additional organic matter into your garden.