What’s the difference between a weed and anything else? Simple: Whether you want the plant where it decided to grow. And chances are that with the warming weather and increase in rain, weeds are beginning to pop up in your grass and flower beds in a big way. The saying, “growing like a weed,” has a lot of truth to it, especially in our wet humid climate along the Gulf Coast.
Ideally, the best weed control begins well before they start to sprout with fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring, but if you missed the boat on that, you still have other fertilizer options that have weed preventors. Research lawn fertilization programs online to see which options work for your lawn needs and budget.
While you have a plethora of post-emergent herbicide options to help you kill the weeds that are already sprouting in your yard and flower beds, many lesser-known, non-chemical options will also do the trick.
For flower beds and the like, try covering the soil with mulch, pine straw or even rocks to reduce the chances of a weed seed being able to sprout in an undesirable location. Those options work best for pre-existing beds that just need a bit of help battling the weeds. Even if weeds do manage to grow, they are likely going to be easier to pull out if they sprout in mulch than if they sprouted just in soil.
If you’re starting a flower bed from scratch, you might want to consider laying landscaping fabric down around your new flowers before your mulch. It’s a breathable material that allows the good stuff – water, air, etc. – into the soil while helping block weeds from sprouting. Newspaper can also be used for the same purpose. It’s typically covered by either mulch, pine straw or rocks to make it more aesthetically pleasing and increase the ability to fight weeds.
For grass, ground coverage means making your grass as healthy as possible and not cutting it too low so that weeds are not able to get enough light and water to survive. The ideal height for your grass, depends on its type and the time of year.
For weeds in any location, you have options to remove them that don’t involve having to get down on your hands and knees to dig them out. Consider boiling water and then pouring it on the pesky plants to kill them. Just remember that if they were flowering you may want to pick them after they burn on the off chance the seeds may still be able to spread.
If you’re looking to up the ante a bit, consider a weed torch. Yes, flamethrowers for weeds exist. And especially in places where chemical herbicides, aren’t an option, they are proving to a valuable tool in the war against weeds. Similarly — but with less fire – you can also lay a thick sheet of black plastic over patches of weeds in your yards or flower beds and bake them. You’ll know they’re dead when they turn crispy.
Sometimes when worse comes to worse, the best option is the old-fashioned way. The quickest way to kill a pesky weed is to pick it, especially for weeds with tap roots like dandelions. While removing them by hand may not always ensure the weed doesn’t return, it’s often the best option for beds with few weeds or weeds with shallow roots, like those that grow in mulch or landscaping rocks. Just try to remember to fling not any flowering weeds you pick into the trash pile so you’re not spreading seeds while trying to remove them.
Good luck. Fight the good fight!