The term weed can be used to describe virtually any unwanted plant. Weeds can smother vegetables, dominate lawns, and make landscapes less attractive and less enjoyable. Proper lawn and garden care, however, can keep weeds under control.

  • Weed types. There are two basic categories of weeds, grassy and broadleaf. Crabgrass is a common grassy weed; dandelions and thistles are common broadleaf weeds.
  • Annuals versus perennials. Annual weeds complete their entire growth cycles during one year. They sprout from seeds, grow to maturity, form flowers and seeds which then are scattered to form the next year’s plants. Perennials appear year after year from an underground root system.
  • Pre-emergent controls. Think of pre-emergent control products as the equivalent to landscape fabric. They create a barrier across the surface of the soil that the seedlings of targeted weeds are unable to penetrate. Unfortunately, these controls will have no effect on perennial weeds that re-sprout from underground root systems.
  • Post-emergent controls. Post-emergent products control actively growing weeds by coming into contact with them. They must remain on the surface of the weed long enough to be absorbed.
  • In gardens. Weed prevention actually begins when planning to place a flower or vegetable bed. Plots started in weedy areas will be prone to weeds later on. Clear the garden area of weeds prior to planting. Then consider mulching to prevent weed germination and growth. Landscape fabrics with a layer of organic mulch or straw are especially effective in vegetable beds. If there are persistent problems with weeds, there are effective products that can help, but what will be most effective, depends on what weeds are the guilty culprits.
  • In lawns. The best way to prevent weeds in lawns is proper lawn maintenance. Healthy, well-groomed lawns leave little space for weeds. Occasional overseeding, especially in thinner lawns, also contributes to weed prevention. A persistent weed problem will require extra attention. 

Despite your best efforts at preventing weeds, occasionally these fearless invaders will still inevitably claim a few small victories. When that happens, your best bets are the age-old practice of pulling weeds by hand or using garden tools to dig them out or the application or a product proven for elimination success. Weed control can be a headache, but with prevention tactics and quick action, they can be controlled and in many cases, prevented.

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