If you’re a proud gardener, common weeds can be the bane of your life. There are plenty of ways to tackle weeds, but different methods work better with different plants.
You want to make sure that weeds aren’t spoiling your crops or your flowerbeds. So, we’ve put together a guide to help you identify 9 common weeds, and how to handle them.
Creeping Charlie is one of the most common weeds. It is a vine with small green leaves and purple flowers.
This weed grows close to the ground to form a thick mat, and puts in roots in multiple places. It often dominates gardens and prevents other plants from getting sunlight and soil nutrients.
A simple way to stop Creeping Charlie growing is to look after your lawn. This common weed grows best in unhealthy lawns, so by mowing and fertilising your garden regularly you can reduce the chances of it growing there. You can also tackle Creeping Charlie by pulling it out, smothering it with mulch or spraying it with weedkiller.
Dandelion is a distinctive and one of the most common weeds. It has bright yellowy-orange flowers and develops a fluffy round seed head. It often grows on the edges of paths and paving, and in flowerbeds or grass.
You can get rid of dandelions by digging them out of the soil. This is often quite effective, but only if you manage to completely remove the roots from the ground. You can also kill them off using weedkiller. A simple way to stop dandelion spreading is to cut off the flowers to prevent it from growing seed heads.
The broad-leaved dock is a similarly common weed, sometimes tricky to distinguish against other plants due to its colour but is otherwise quite large. It can grow mostly anywhere with fertile soil: in gardens, paving or even in cracks or spaces that form on paths.
While this particular weed is exceptionally common, gardeners can also deal with in a variety of ways. Physically removing it from the soil, making sure to bring the entire root with it, is viable, as is using any standard weedkiller or herbicide.
Clover has oval green leaves, which grow in groups of three, and can have white or pink flowers. It usually grows in lawns. For some, clover is an attractive addition to their garden, but for others it is an unwanted pest.
There are several easy ways to control clover. Like creeping Charlie, clover grows best in an unhealthy lawn. So taking care of your lawn can have the added benefit of reducing clover growth. You can also get rid of clover by digging it out or spraying it with herbicide, like most common weeds.
Ragwort is recognisable by its bright yellow flowers. It usually grows in fields and paddocks, but it also grows in gardens. It is known for its poisonous nature and can cause serious liver damage if animals eat it regularly.
One way to get rid of ragwort is to simply pull it out of the ground. This has a short-term benefit, as it’s hard to pull all the roots out and the plant often ends up re-growing the following year. Another way to remove the weed is to use weedkiller, which should be applied in late spring or early autumn.
There are a few ways to control moss. Simply clearing fallen leaves and mowing regularly can significantly decrease the amount of moss in your lawn. The moss that you do find growing can be pulled or raked up.
You can also use mosskiller or bio-products. An advantage of bio-products is that when they come into contact with the weed they break it down. This means that you don’t need to rake the moss up afterwards: simply apply and wait.
Japanese knotweed has creamy-white flowers and bamboo-like shoots, which can grow up to 2 metres long. It is considered a weed because of its tendency to grow quickly and overwhelm gardens. These common weeds have become such a problem that in 1981 it was made an offence to cause the plant to grow in the wild.
Japanese knotweed is notoriously difficult to get rid of. You can pull it up, but like many weeds, its roots are so long that at least some of them get left in the ground, and the plant regrows. You can also use weedkiller to tackle knotweed, but you will probably need to apply it a number of times to kill the plant.
The government have strict guidelines on how to dispose of knotweed, so it’s important to do your research. There’s a potential fine of up to £5000 or 2 years imprisonment if you are found to have allowed soil infested with knotweed to be put into the wild. The Environment Agency recommends either burning the weeds or wrapping them up and burying them.
Horsetail is a weed that has tall, green, fir tree-like shoots. It is also known as mare’s tail. It usually grows in thick clumps, in lawns, flowerbeds, paths and patios.
An easy way to control horsetail growing in lawns is simply to mow regularly. You can tackle horsetail growing in other areas by pulling it out, but its deep roots make this difficult. Weedkiller is also effective, but you will have to apply it frequently to completely eradicate the plant.
Also known as twitch grass, this common weed can prove quite irksome for avid gardeners. While above ground it may look fairly innocuous, resembling a slightly taller version of regular grass, it’s the underground part that’s the problem. Beneath the soil, couch grass develops a dense network of roots that can quickly spread throughout a whole flowerbed.
In less heavy soils it is possible to physically remove this common weed using a fork tool. Because of how pervasive its roots can be however, if the area you’re dealing with is carefully cultivated you may need to use more precise methods. Hand weeding is an option.
Additionally, try if possible to resolve these issues towards late winter or the beginning of spring, as this is just before new plants have started to sprout. This will prevent you from inadvertently damaging anything you’re trying to protect from weeds.
Given it’s a form of grass, glyphosate weedkillers are as usual effective, but also present similar problems in cultivated areas due to their unselective nature.
So although there are lots of common weeds that could be growing in your garden, many of them are easy to identify. You should now be one step closer to knowing which weeds are in your garden and how best to deal with them.
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