Whoever said that a weed is simply a plant out of place obviously never tried to maintain their own landscaping to keep it weed-free. Rather than relying on one strict plan of action, it’s best to use a combination of methods to prevent aggressive weeds from outcompeting your lawn and landscape plants for water and nutrients.
An Ounce of Prevention
Keeping your soil healthy will go a long way toward preventing weed Armageddon in your yard. Using a natural pre-emergent herbicide such as corn gluten meal can have some effect on certain types of weeds. Planting ground covers and using mulch, whether carbon-based or inorganic, will certainly prevent weeds from sprouting. Companion planting and choosing landscape plants that are hardy in your area and can actually compete with weeds for resources can help tremendously.
Watering only in areas directly around existing landscape plants can starve weeds in open areas, especially during drought conditions. If you’re redoing your landscape and want to prevent weeds from sprouting in the future, lay down landscape fabric, plastic sheeting, or even multiple layers of old newspaper for an economical and environmentally friendly option.
The Grass Really Is Greener
Certain types of grasses are better at shutting out weeds due to their dense growing habits and root systems. Weeds don’t commonly cause problems in grassy areas but are instead the result of poor lawn care practices or environmental challenges. Keep in mind that St. Augustine grasses should never be overseeded and will stay green year-round unless a hard freeze below 20 degrees hits San Antonio.
If you have a Bermuda grass lawn that dies off in the winter, overseeding your lawn each year in late October or early November with a cool-weather winter grass such as annual ryegrass can help shut out weeds. Remember that your existing warm-season turf needs to be in good shape to withstand the hardy winter grass, otherwise come spring you might not have enough summer turf left to regrow and fill in a lush summer lawn.
When You Need a Pound of Cure
If it’s too late to prevent a weed-related nightmare, there are other options, but you need to know what your landscape plants look like. Weeds can get so large growing directly into the middle of a shrub that it’s difficult to tell them from the landscape plant, and many weeds will purposely mimic the look of landscape plants in size and form.
Too Much Time on My Hands
The mechanical method, also known as weeding, is safe and effective, even if it’s also difficult and time-consuming. Depending on your outlook, weeding by hand can actually be relaxing and meditative, and you’ll certainly feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish the job. It’s also good exercise that can burn more than a few hundred calories. Use a variety of hand and garden tools such as hoes, hand tillers, trowels, forks, cultivators, and weeders to be most effective.
Try to weed frequently when weeds are still small, have shallow root systems, and have not yet gone to seed. Pull from the base of the plant to make sure the entire root is extracted from the soil because many weeds can resprout from small portions of roots left behind. Never use weeds for mulch or put weeds in compost, or you’ll risk a weed invasion the likes of which you’ve never seen before.
Simply pouring boiling water over weeds is a great method for managing ones that have sprouted in cracks and along edges of hardscape. This method has the added advantage of being nearly free, although not entirely without risk if you’re not careful with the hot pot and water. If you like playing with fire and boiling water doesn’t sound like much fun, using a propane or weed torch to incinerate weeds into oblivion could be your thing. Finally, many common weeds are edible and actually quite tasty if prepared correctly. Dandelions, dock, and chicory are common edible weeds used in salads.
Whether your weed situation is dire or you simply don’t have time for these methods, call ABC Home & Commercial Services in San Antonio directly or visit our website to schedule service or a free estimate.