Weeds covering an area and requiring a weed management program

Weeds are unsightly and can take over a garden or lawn quickly if not managed properly.

Not only are weeds unsightly, but they can also be harmful to plants and grass. Weeds compete with desirable plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients, which can stunt the growth of desired plants.

Weed management is important in order to maintain a healthy garden or lawn. Proper weed management includes identifying the types of weeds present, using the correct herbicide for those weeds, and proper application techniques.

Understanding weed management

One problem with using natural methods to prevent weed growth is that some plants are more difficult to control than others and the time it takes to implement this form of weed management to effective results will be considerably longer than conventional means.

Weed management is an important part of maintaining a healthy and beautiful landscape. There are many ways to control weed growth, both conventional and natural. Each has its own set of pros and cons, depending on the situation.

Conventional weed management methods

Conventional methods of weed management include:

  • hand pulling and hoeing
  • mulching (machine weed control)
  • spraying herbicides

Each of these conventional weed management methods has their advantages and disadvantages.

Hand pulling and hoeing

Hand weeding: Although considered the most labour-intensive and least effective way to prevent weed growth, hand pulling of weeds can also be an effective method for controlling smaller patches of weeds in your landscape. However, this method will not be effective if the weeds have gone to seed.

Hoeing: Hand removal of weeds is another common method of weed control. A hoe can be used to pull up larger annuals while edging beds and walkways can help keep them looking neat.

A weed hoe is a good option if you have a small garden or one that can be easily accessed.

Cutting weeds with a shear - conventional weed management control
Cutting weeds with a shear – conventional weed management control

Mulching

Mulching: This is the practice of covering the ground with a layer of organic or inorganic material to suppress or prevent germination of weed seeds. Organic mulches such as wood chips, straw, pine needles, sheet-type plastic or even grass clippings can be used.

The advantage of organic mulches is that they improve the soil and suppress weed growth at a fraction of the cost of herbicides. However, organic mulches will need to be replaced after a certain period because they break down over time and may not be aesthetically pleasing in the long run.

Inorganic mulches such as plastic or rocks can be permanent and aesthetically pleasing, but take a substantial amount of time to install and cost more money than organic mulches. In addition, inorganic mulches will need to be removed when they become unsightly or worn out.

If you choose to use mulch, you should apply it as soon as the soil warms up in spring to prevent weed germination.

Machine weed control: There are a number of machines that can be used for weed management, including motorized wheel hoes, mulch mowers and powered lawn edgers.

However, they all share some common drawbacks: they are expensive to purchase and maintain; they require regular service which may be difficult to find depending on where you live; and they can be difficult to manoeuvre around trees, rocks and shrubs.

Cutting weeds with a weed whacker or brush cutter
Cutting weeds with a weed whacker or brush cutter

Spraying herbicides

Herbicides are chemicals that kill plants. They come in two types:

  • selective
  • non-selective

Selective herbicides kill only plants that are listed on the label.

Non-selective herbicides kill all plants, including the desired plants and weeds.

It’s easy to understand why you might want to use herbicides as part of your weed management plan when spraying your garden. The problem is, not all herbicides are the same and some can be detrimental to other plants in your garden. When it comes time for a new round of weed spraying, it’s important that you pick a selective or non-selective herbicide to suit your needs.

Ultimately, choosing the method, cost and timeframe that you have, will be some of the factors that affect your decision. Likewise, you might wish to go the natural way as an alternative. see below.

Natural weed management methods

Natural weed control methods include:

  • physical barriers (row covers, straw mulch)
  • smothering (plastic sheet or landscape fabric)
  • biological means (milky spore disease for grubs)

Many of these methods are labour-intensive and will need to be repeated for each growing season.

Physical barriers

Physical Barriers: There are several types of physical barriers that can help with weed management, including the use of row covers, inverted landscape fabric or mulches.

Row covers can be used to exclude certain weeds from an area where they’re not wanted. However, they are removed each growing season, which will require an initial investment of time every year.

Inverted mulches are made from landscape fabric that is cut into strips and then inverted along the edge of a bed or garden to prevent weed growth. They can be left in place for many years but must be installed correctly so they don’t actually allow weeds to grow through.

Straw mulches made from pine needles or other plant matter can be used to prevent weed growth in perennial beds at a fraction of the cost of fabric or plastic. However, straw will need to be removed and replaced each season so it is not a permanent solution.

Use of Black Plastic sheeting and Straw For Weed management Control
Use of Black Plastic sheeting and Straw For Weed management Control

Smothering

Plastic sheeting: Black plastic sheeting may also be used to prevent weed growth in beds, but it should only be applied for one season. If left in place longer than one growing season, it can become too hot for the plants beneath and damage them.

Onion weed barrier is a lightweight, porous fabric that can be used as an alternative to black plastic sheeting or weed fabric. It allows water and air to penetrate through but prevents light from reaching the soil surface, where weed seeds sprout.

Smothering: There are several smothering materials that can suppress or prevent weed growth by blocking light from reaching their leaves including plastic sheeting, weed fabric (landscape fabric with no holes in it) or wood mulches that are at least 3 inches thick.

Compost is also an effective weed deterrent because it attracts beneficial soil organisms that are natural enemies of weeds. Organic matter should be turned into the soil several times each year, which will help it break down more quickly.

Organic mulches like wood chips or bark are suitable for permanent use in some areas, but they will need to be replaced after several years because they break down slowly and can cause organic matter levels to drop. When used as a top-dressing on established lawns, they can also provide weed control by depriving weeds of light.

However, these materials will need to be replaced after one season because they don’t break down naturally and can become unsightly over time. They may also kill plants underneath them so you should keep their use to areas where they are not likely to be in contact with desired plants, including shrubs and trees.

Biological control

Biological Control: Biological control of weeds can be very effective if done correctly, but it is generally considered a long-term solution because it doesn’t kill the entire weed population. Damping off or root rot disease is caused by naturally occurring soil fungi (Pythium and Rhizoctonia) that infect seedlings at the soil line, causing them to collapse or rot.

The problem can be prevented by starting plants indoors in sterilized growing mix and potting soils should not be reused from one season to the next.

Milky spore disease kills Japanese beetle grubs (white grubs), which are the larval stage of scarab beetles. The use of milky spore is another long-term solution because it requires several years to build up in soil to control all white grubs in your area.

In conclusion

Weed management is an important part of a healthy garden. Weeds can compete with desired plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients, leading to decreased growth or even death of your desired plant.

Additionally, weeds can harbour pests and diseases that can affect your desirable plants. Proper weed management is key to keeping your landscape looking its best and minimizing potential problems.

Want to know more about effective weed management?

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 on 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 – knotweedremovaltips@gmail.com

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

Bestseller No. 1
Bayer Garden 2 x Path, Patio & Drive Weed Killer & Watering Can Set - 3 x 8g Sachets per pack treats upto 75sqm - Kills Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass & Japanese Knotweed.
  • This exclusive twin pack and 9L Watering Set is everything you need for clearing weeds from paths, patios and rives including areas of tarmac, concrete and block paving.
  • Kills tough weeds and their roots including: Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass, Japanese Knotweed, Brambles, Bracken & Ivy.
  • Each box contains 3 x 8g Simple ready measured soluble doses and treats up to 75sqm. Apply at any time when weeds are showing green leaf and are actively growing.
  • Sold with our durable 9L or 2 gallon capacity galvanised steel watering can with removable brass rose. Colour cannot be guaranteed. Watering can will be randomly picked and despatched.
  • Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the spray has dried.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Roundup Tree Stump Weedkiller, Super Concentrate 250 ml
  • Kills ivy japanese knotweed, saplings, brambles and nettles to the root
  • Kills up to 16 tree stumps
  • Contains a reusable pipette for specialist treatment of japanese knotweed
  • Kills the roots so weeds don't come back
  • Degraded in the soil by micro organisms
Bestseller No. 3
Scotts Miracle-Gro Roundup Tree Stump and Root Killer 250 ml Liquid Concentrate Weedkiller
  • Liquid concentrate tree stump and tough weed killer
  • Kills most garden weeds and tree stumps with a single application
  • Children and pets need not be excluded from treated areas (once dry)
  • Fully degrades in soil by microbial action
  • Leaves no harmful residues to allow replanting
Bestseller No. 4
Tree Stump Killer Root Killer Prfessional Roundup Tree Stump & Root Killer 250ml
  • Roundup Tree Stump Weed Killer 250ml Tree Stump & Root Killer Up To 16 Stumps
  • Kills stumps, trees, brambles, nettles, deep rooted and woody weeds.
  • Kills Tough Weeds to the roots.
  • Kills up to 16 Stumps
  • Roundup stump killer is a non-selective, translocated weedkiller that is absorbed by leaves and freshly cut, woody surfaces and moves throughout the entire plant, above and below the ground, to control standing coniferous and deciduous trees, newly cut tree stumps, tree saplings, brambles, bracken, Nettles, Japanese knotweed and other tough and woody weeds.
Bestseller No. 5
Bayer Garden 2 x Path, Patio & Drive Weed Killer - 3 x 8g Sachets per pack treats upto 75sqm - Kills Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass & Japanese Knotweed.
  • Ideal for clearing weeds from paths, patios and rives including areas of tarmac, concrete and block paving.
  • Kills tough weeds and their roots including: Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass, Japanese Knotweed, Brambles, Bracken & Ivy.
  • Each box contains 3 x 8g Simple ready measured soluble doses and treats up to 75sqm.
  • Apply at any time when weeds are showing green leaf and are actively growing.
  • Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the spray has dried.

Similar Posts