By Shawn McClain
Weeds are competitive, fighting your garden plants or lawn grass for water, light, nutrients and space. Usually, weeds grow quickly taking over many of the open areas. Weeds thrive in favorable conditions and can be found growing anywhere the ground has been disturbed. In addition, they offer clues about your soil conditions. An example would be plantain. This stubborn weed often grows in compacted, heavy clay and well trafficked areas with low fertility.
Questions concerning weed eradication can be best answered by understanding how they grow. Growth is determined by classification of whether they are annuals, biennials or perennials.
Annual weeds germinate and spread by seed, having an average lifespan of one year. These include both winter and summer types.
Winter annuals germinate in late summer/early fall, go dormant in winter and actively grow during spring.
Summer annuals germinate in spring, grow throughout summer and are gone with the arrival of cold weather.
Second type is biennial weeds completing their life cycle in two years, germinating and forming rosettes their first year and producing flowers and seeds their second year.
Third type is a perennial weed returning every year and normally producing long taproots in addition to seeds.
Weed control methods vary depending on the weed and the preference of the individual. One of the easiest ways to control weeds is through prevention or cultural control. Close planting, mulching and cover crops in the garden can reduce weed growth by eliminating open space. Mechanical control of common weed plants can be accomplished through hand pulling, hoeing, digging or mowing which slows growth and reduces seed formation. Many weeds are very aggressive and can quickly take over desired displays. Chemical weed controls are often recommended for the more aggressive weeds.
Generally, invasive weeds are well worth the trouble of removal. However, some weeds can be quite attractive in the garden, so why not consider allowing them to stay. This more natural weed control method results in a lush native environment when given their own designated spot.