We all want that beautiful clean looking bed. The question is how do we get there? Below are 5 easy tips to get you started with managing the weeds in your landscape beds.
#1. Identify the most prevalent weeds in your landscape
Once we identify the weeds we can understand the life cycles of the weed. This will allow us to provide an effective strategy to manage those weeds. For example, if the biggest problem is common chickweed then controlling that weed in late fall provides us with the best control. If your primary issue is Canadian thistles then we need to manage this type of weed in the late spring and summer to gain good control. Life cycles also tell us if it is an annual or perennial type of weed. Annual weeds can be controlled by using preemergent herbicides whereas perennial weeds can not be controlled with a preemergent. While there are many good online sources for weed identification the book “Weeds Of The Northeast” by Richard H. Uva, is a great resource.
#2. Apply Pre-emergent
The use of a preemergent as indicated above is one of the best ways to get good control of a weed problem. Preemergent weed control is applied to bed areas to prevent weed seed germination. Most preemergent products set up a barrier in the topmost layer of the soil preventing dormant seeds from emerging. Some common products available include Preen, Snapshot, and Freehand. Most are applied in early spring beneath mulch. However, they can be applied throughout the growing season. The pesticide label will give specifics regarding amounts and timing. For example, with winter annual weeds the best time to apply a preemergent is in September as the seeds germinate in fall.
#3. Use various mulches to prevent weed growth
Mulches provide coverage over the soil preventing weed seeds from reaching exposed soil. In addition, the helps to cool the soil surface reducing weed seeds from germinating. Furthermore, since weeds require soil to grow, they are unable to grow out of the wood. Some common materials available include wood bark mulch, pine straw mulch, wood chips, and pine bark nuggets. Rubber mulch is also practical in some limited settings. A (2”-3”) depth is usually ideal.
#4. Hand Pull Weeds to manage your landscape
This is very effective when conditions are ideal. It is best to pull weeds in your landscape after it rains. When the soil is moist there is a much better opportunity to remove the entire root system. Watering the beds prior to weeding is also an option. This method can be time-consuming. In addition, you may not remove the entire root allowing for regrowth. However, if you can do this once a week during the growing season it is an effective management tool.
#5. Spray Herbicide
For those who do not have the time to hand-pull weeds, spraying them with a herbicide or organic alternative is a great way to manage weeds. Vinegar is an example of an organic option. The advantage of herbicide spraying is that it will translocate through the entire plant system killing the entire root. In addition, spraying takes far less time and effort. It is important to be careful when spraying as spray may drift onto a desirable plant, which may cause damage to that plant. Your local garden center has many options to choose from. Reading and understanding the pesticide label is important any time you use a herbicide.
As we all want to manage weeds with the least amount of time expended, we hope this provides you with some guidelines to keep your landscape beds looking their absolute best! If you would like assistance with managing the weeds in your landscape beds,
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