weed, weeding and more weeds

I always think of my sins when I weed.  They grow apace in the same way and are harder still to get rid of – Helena Rutherfurd Ely, A Woman’s Hardy Garden, 1903

weed free gardens

weed free gardens

Who wants them? What should we do about them? A weed by definition is deemed to be a plant growing in a place where it is not wanted. We tend to know them better as a pain in the rear (and no I am not talking about my mother in law) and sometimes to a point were our nerve endings would rather see cobble-lock city come to our town via frustration avenue! I will tell you, it is easier than you think to solve all of your problems.  You need no more to rush to the chemist to buy your bottle of Doctor Peters super magic hair restore tonic.

Weeds are generally categorised twice. So you either have broad leaf or narrow leaf and perennial (completes it life cycle over several years) or annual weeds.

The perennial and broad leaf weeds that we detest more are the ones we know the best.  Into this category fall docks, thistles, dandelion, buttercup etc. They are generally deep- rooted, low growing and stubborn. In this situation hoeing will not increase the aesthetic value of your house, just make your journey to the institution a little bit more sedated. Usually found in poor soiled lawns, ditches and scrubland.

We can in fact only define a weed, mutatis mutandis, in terms of the well-known definition of dirt – as matter out of place.  What we call a weed is in fact merely a plant growing where we do not want it.  ~E.J. Salisbury, The Living Garden, 1935

weed free gardening?

weed free gardening?

The problem is not to control them in the ditches or driveways but to control them when amongst our grasses (without chemical use). The growing point (lowest central budding point) is below or similar to that of grass and so the mower tends not to eliminate it by cutting. A semi selective translocated herbicide applied via calibrated sprayer is your only man, in my opinion. This is a chemical where the molecular make up will not allow it stick to the thin narrow grass leaves. As it forms a distortion in the growth cells of the weed, a sort of myxamitosis for plants, the unnecessary green pest grows itself into oblivion without affecting the lawn. The temperature for grass growth is approximately twelve degrees Celsius, so below this point the chemical will not take effect. Please note that your lawn should be established, ensure that your dilution rates are suited to that of your knapsack sprayer and use a cowl or hood to avoid wind-drift.


with age comes beauty...

Annual weeds are generally shallow rooting and most commonly regarded as the mite who got into my (flower) bed without my permission. Examples include cleavers, willowherb, chickweed etc. Although their leaves are not slim-line in shape, they are easier to control than their better know more stubborn brethren. They are rarely found in lawns and when found, mainly in flower-beds, they are better pulled by hand. More eco-friendly methods such as a good planting plan with select areas of ground cover plants, some regular maintenance and bark mulch will normally help to reduce this problem. Spraying can be used in larger more developed areas but you should clear away from the base of the plants and again use a cowl to avoid chemical particles hitting the plants you do want to keep in perfect shape.

Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons.  ~Dave Barry

7 replies
  1. lorida lawn mowing
    lorida lawn mowing says:

    i find your site helpful!
    Landscaping isn’t just used to give a face-lift into ones garden. Aside from gardening purposes, it is both science and art that help modify and improve the land, flora and fauna, structures, buildings, and weather conditions.

  2. Calvin Jones
    Calvin Jones says:

    Hey Peter,

    Weeds get a bad rep., mostly because they’re hardy, tenacious plants that are ideally adapted to growing in a wide variety of conditions. Their versatility — the very thing that makes them such successful plants, also means they tend to out-compete their cultivated cousins given half a chance, which of course makes them the scourge of horticulturalists everywhere.

    But weeds aren’t necessarily all bad, and eradicating them could be counter productive (depending on your goals, of course).

    I covered this in an article about weeds ages ago, which isn’t available online yet (must rectify that). Many common weeds are actually really incredibly interesting and useful plants in their own right, and the fact that they’re mostly native species means they’re a real boon to wildlife.

    Will post that article online and will come back and link to it.

    Meanwhile… here’s another article I wrote for The Countryman in the UK, again, quite a while ago now, looking at the amazing chemicals arsenal some of our common wild plants (“weeds”) employ.

  3. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Calvin,

    the question answered I suppose is how to ‘deal with’ weeds. In that sense it has been answered.

    Personally, i’d have no problems eating those that are edible and also vying away from the use of chemicals via logic design [more organic methods] etc. As discussed above.

    That said [yet not entirely in defence of use] most of the available chemcals list are safe/ safer [as safe chemicals go?]; at least a lot safer than those of 25 years ago.

    Brilliant article by the way… really enjoyed that.
    slán go foill

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] @jennyfoxe @jkeyes – as mentioned in the podcast and some extra curricular reading on getting rid of weeds […]

  2. […] in the Evening Echo in May/June 2003(ish); uploaded here after reading and commenting on a post on weeds over on Peter Donegan’s horticultural […]

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