Do you have a wild landscape? When you take a couple weekends and whip it into submission, do you turn around just a few weeks later to see it looking like jungle again? Those weeds sure don’t need much to thrive! In fact, it may seem you are doing a better job at growing weeds than flowers and shrubs in your landscape.
Weed pressure in landscapes is different on every site, in fact, it can be completely different on one side of a residential home than the other just 30-40 ft. away. There are many factors that contribute to weed growth. Some of these factors can be influenced by controls, but problem areas will always exist in a landscape. The key is knowing which areas are the most wild, and need the most taming regiment.
When animal trainers take on a wild animal, they use assorted forms of reinforcement and conditioning to condition an animal’s responses. Some animal trainers may have a knowledge of the principles of behavior analysis and then employ tactics in positive and negative reinforcement to bring about an desired outcome. Your wild beast is your weedy landscape! To train it, you have to figure out why your landscape “behaves” well or badly.
The weeds don’t just come from nowhere. You may have inherited your landscape and the weeds were there from the get-go. They were introduced at some point. The majority of weeds grow from seeds. They are transported by all sorts of vectors such as wind, water, animals, new landscape plants, etc. Other weeds grow from tubers or bulbs. Understanding the “behavior” of these weeds is crucial to knowing how to control them.
You already know you don’t need much along the lines of positive reinforcement to make weeds flourish. However, understanding what allows that to happen will help you to realize times when you will need to be the most diligent in your efforts. Abundant moisture, warm soil temperatures, cracked and dry soil, thin mulch, and nearby areas full of weeds going to seed will all cause your landscape to produce more weeds. When these positive conditions are present, that’s when you must pay close attention to the wild beast nearby that is ready to attack.
In order to whip a wild, weedy landscape into shape, you need to follow a plan:
- Remove as many of the weeds as possible. When possible, it’s more effective to use systemic herbicides like Round-up because the material translocates through the plant and kills all parts of it. This will reduce weed re-growth from weeds that aren’t easily pulled out. However, use care when applying herbicides because they may cause injury to desirable plants nearby. In these areas, hand-pulling may be your only option. If these tasks are something you can’t or don’t want to perform, find a local landscaping company that can both spray for weeds as well as has maintenance crews that can differentiate between weeds and flowers.
- Apply pre-emergent weed control to landscape beds to reduce further seed germination. Consult the label for the best timing to do apply as well as any precautions for use or any specific plants you shouldn’t apply that material in close proximity to. Please note that most of these materials only last for a couple months, and should be applied multiple times in year.
- Mulch your beds annually. A 2″-3″ layer of mulch will reduce the weed growth in beds. Be sure to purchase good-quality mulch. You often get what you pay for. Steer clear of places with discount or even free mulch (such as your local municipality recycling facility) because they often contain weeds that other homeowners have disposed of and will be put right back into your landscape beds!
- Keep a close watch! Don’t wait until things are out of control again. Stay diligent and spray/pull weeds when they are small. If you wait until they mature, you run the risk of them seeding off and multiplying more. You will recognize which areas of your landscape are the wildest. Pay attention to them each week when you mow or walk around your property.
Let us get out there and show them who’s the REAL King of Your Jungle!