Overgrown patch of lawn covered in weeds and in need of landscaping

Weeds can grow in the most unexpected of places. Even a well-kept block paving driveway can’t keep weeds at bay. 

While there is no permanent solution to weed growth, weed killers have always proven to be helpful, at least for a few months.

Some weed killers are effective at destroying weeds above the surface, but the finest weed killers eliminate weeds at the root, ensuring that these unwelcome plants never return. 

Being able to know the characteristics and identification of weeds is crucial in order to combat these unwelcome visitors to your garden.

Understanding weeds

Weeds are invasive plants that grow in undesirable locations. As a result, we can’t generalise about these plants. Plants that are deemed weeds in one situation may not be viewed in the same light in another, where they are actually desired.

It is not uncommon to mistake some weeds for aesthetically pleasing plants within your garden. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on how the weeds affect the rest of your plants and do not prevent your other plants from growing and thriving.

Unfortunately, because weeds grow organically, it can be difficult to keep them under control. These plants can thrive in any environment and can even outgrow the vegetation they grow among. That is why it is critical to eliminate weeds so that your garden has homogeneous vegetation and attractive surfaces, such as a lovely weed-free driveway.

Removing dandelion weeds from your garden - identification of Weeds
Removing dandelion weeds from your garden

Classification of weeds

Weeds are classified as:

  • annual
  • biennial
  • perennial

This is based on their life cycles. Weeds, in most situations, have two or more life behaviours.

Annuals take one year or less to grow from seed, mature and generate a seed for the next generation. Annuals are best controlled when they are young seedlings, but they must be destroyed before they set seed at any costs.

Biennials have a life cycle of two years. These plants start from a seed that germinates in the spring and grows thick roots and compact rosettes or clusters of leaves throughout the first summer. Biennials are dormant over the winter, then mature, produce seed, and die the following summer.

Perennials are plants that persist for more than two years, and they can live indefinitely.

Best time to tackle weeds

Controlling annuals and biennials early in the growing season is important not only to eliminate plants from the current generation but also to prevent seed production for the next.

Many perennial plants create storage structures such as bulbs, tubers, rhizomes (underground stems), or stolons (above-ground stems) from which plants might arise. The most common way to introduce these weeds to new regions is through seed; nevertheless, perennial weeds are frequently dispersed during soil preparation and maintenance.

Good weed control techniques must address both the plant’s below-ground and above-ground structures.

When the plant has reached one-fourth of its height or is at the early flower bud stage in perennial weeds, root supplies have been depleted to the maximum and carbohydrates are beginning to travel back down to generate new underground structures. This is the best time to use control methods like clean cultivation, close mowing, or foliar herbicides.

There are a vast range of weeds but all can be managed by selecting the right weed killer.

Cutting weeds with a shear - conventional weed management control - identification of Weeds
Cutting weeds with a shear – conventional weed management control

How weeds affect plants

Weeds fight for sunlight, water, and nutrients with desirable plants. Weeds can drastically affect crop production on farms or allotments by providing food for bugs that harm desirable plants. They can also harbour plant bacteria, which can deteriorate the soil and injure the roots.

Some species are poisonous, while others irritate the skin of humans and animals when they come into touch with them. Last but not least, weeds can detract from the beauty of well-kept lawns, as well as driveways and other hard surfaces.

Weed killers

Weed killers, often known as herbicides or weedicides, are essential tools for gardeners and homeowners. They try to get rid of invasive plants and limit their natural growth.

Weed killers come in a variety of formulations, each designed to destroy a specific type of weed. Many people are faced with the task of selecting the best weed killer for their garden, walkways, or driveways. Fortunately, we’ll go over that next, so you’ll have no trouble finding your ideal product.

We’ll show you how to choose the best weed killer for block paving driveways, the best weed killer for paths, and even the best weed killer for drives and paths.

For the time being, avoid pulling weeds by hand because they will most likely come back, especially if the roots are left in the ground and only the foliage is removed.

Spraying knotweed as part of a designated treatment plan to eliminate it - identification of Weeds
Spraying knotweed as part of a designated treatment plan to eliminate it

Types of weed killers

There are many types of weeds. In this review, we will differentiate weed killers by these two aspects; characteristic and application.

Weed killers characteristics

Selectivity, emergence, persistence, and translocation are the four different qualities associated with weed killers.

Selectivity – Weed killers are classified as selective or non-selective.

  • Non-selective weed killers kill everything in their vicinity, which is why you should not spray in windy conditions.
  • Selective weed killers kill weeds without harming nearby grass and are commonly used on lawns, whereas non-selective weed killers kill everything in their vicinity, so care should be taken not to get any spray on plants.

Emergence – Weed killers are classified as either pre-emergence or post-emergence.

  • Pre-emergence weedicides are used to kill germinating seedlings before they grow.
  • Post-emergent weedicides are used to kill weeds that have already begun to sprout.

Persistence – There are two types of weed killers: persistent and non-persistent.

  • Persistent weed killers destroy everything and prevent regrowth.
  • Non-persistent weed killers have no effect on weed regrowth.

Translocation – Herbicides that go through a weed’s internal system while breaking it down are known as translocation. Others use touch to kill undesired plants.

Weed killers by Application

Residual weed killers

These weed killers, also known as soil acting herbicides, are not recommended for use in your farm or garden because they sit in the soil for several months, suppressing any sort of growth. Some of them can poison the soil, rendering it unusable for farming. Use these herbicides sparingly in places where you want to plant crops in the next two years or more.

However, residual weed killers are the ideal choice for locations where you don’t want to see weeds, such as roads, walks, and block paving. Also, if you’re looking for a driveway weed killer, go for one that contains glyphosate, which kills weeds from the leaves, branches, and roots.

Selective weed killers

These herbicides, as previously said, exclusively harm specific plants. Weed killers for the lawn are a good example. These only affect broad-leaved plants (such as dandelion, daisy, and buttercup), but not narrow-leaved plants (grass). Weed killers used in forestry, for example, destroy grass without hurting new saplings.

Non-selective weed killers

These will annihilate anything that gets in their way. As a result, consumers must exercise extreme caution while applying herbicides to their gardens.

One important precaution is to never spray a non-selective weed killer in a windy situation, as the chemicals will inevitably travel to undesirable locations. Make sure not to walk over-sprayed areas because your shoes can still disseminate chemicals to unintended locations and cause harm.

If you’re spraying in a congested area, make sure you cover the plants you want to protect. Take caution with your knapsack sprayer and chemicals as well.

Systematic Weed killer

The majority of weed killers function in a systematic manner. They get into a plant’s transport system and damage it completely, rendering it unusable all the way down to the root.

Contact weed killer

Contact herbicides kill whatever plant they come into contact with. The weed killers are absorbed by the leaves through the stomata, and the procedure takes place during the day. Stomata are only open during the day while photosynthesis is taking place, as you may recall from biology. To be effective, a contact weed killer must be administered to target weeds during daylight hours.

Contact weed herbicides have the advantage of having no influence on the soil. Within two weeks, results are obvious, and these herbicides are ideal for dealing with annual weeds. If you wish to control perennial weeds, you’ll need to apply two or three times.

Spraying pesticide with portable sprayer to eradicate garden weeds with Pesticide use is hazardous to health - identification of Weeds
Spraying pesticides with a portable sprayer to eradicate garden weeds with Pesticide use is hazardous to health

Guide to using weed killer

I know it sounds silly, but the most important thing to remember while using weed killer is to carefully follow the instructions and BE PATIENT. Because Glyphosate is absorbed into the leaf and then must travel to the root tip to completely kill the weed, almost all systemic weed killers will take a long time to function.

It could take up to a month, but it could be quicker depending on the circumstances. To keep things secure, never be in a hurry and have a timed plan. The longer you wait after applying the fertiliser, the better, and seven days is the absolute minimum.

Remember that weed killers should always be applied with a garden sprayer rather than a water can, which is inefficient.

The ideal time to apply

Weed killers perform best between March and November. Specific dates should always be checked on the container, although they should fall within this range.

The best time to apply weed killer is in the middle of the day when it’s bone dry and hot. The warmer the weather, the better, and if there hasn’t been any rain in a few days, the better.

Check the weather forecast to ensure you give yourself the best opportunity. A couple of warm days predicted ahead of time would be great for achieving the best results.

In general, these products can be used moist, however, it is not recommended. If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it right.

If you’re going to apply weed killer, this also implies you shouldn’t clean your driveway or patio beforehand. Because healthy leaves absorb more poison, these systemic weed killers work better when the weed is healthier.

Safety first

Before we start the application procedure. It’s critical that you wear appropriate PPE such as a mask, goggles, and gloves. Always wear these, and make sure you’re dressed toughly in jeans and boots.

Make sure you properly clean out your watering can or sprayer after each use. It’s also a good idea not to flush the leftovers down the drain, so only mix what you need.

After applying the herbicide, keep children and pets out of the garden until the weeds are totally dry. Do not scrimp on this; we’re dealing with a hazardous substance, and the proper method must be followed to ensure that it’s safe to use. When it comes to your family, you should never take chances.

  • Keep the product away from food and drink.
  • Keep away from children and pets
  • Keep the product in the original container; don’t shift it to other containers at any cost
  • Read the label carefully before trying to use the product
  • Dispose of the container at recycling centres
  • If medical help is needed, have the label or product container at hand

Top Tip: Spraying on windy days is not recommended since it increases the risk of ingestion and reduces the amount of substance absorbed on the leaf. Stop what you’re doing and wait for dry weather if you see bad weather on the horizon.

Storage and Disposal

  • Don’t shift the product into other containers
  • Don’t contaminate the product with water or its container
  • Don’t empty into drains, sinks, or other water points

In Conclusion

Identification of Weeds and their Characteristics

Weeds can be identified by their unique characteristics, which include leaf shape, colour, and size. In addition to their identifying features, weeds also tend to grow in specific areas of the garden.

Once you know how to identify them, it becomes much easier to remove them from your garden.

Want to know more about weeds and their characteristics

Knotweed Removal aims to provide the most up-to-date information, help and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain about how to proceed, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

Governmental advice can be found here and the UK law covering the removal of Japanese Knotweed as stated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can be found here.

The best means to contact us is via our email – hello@knotweedremoval.tips

Do not forget we have a library of blogs covering many areas relevant to Japanese Knotweed, our free downloadable How-to Guides and Product Reviews on the latest methods being employed to eradicate or remove Japanese Knotweed.

Knotweed Removal, UK

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