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‘Weeds and how to understand them! - Identification is it the key to con...


By drc726


‘Weeds and how to understand them! – Identification is it the key to control?
‘One year’s seeding makes seven years weeding’ or so the saying goes! We all have weeds which are often referred to as ‘a plant in the wrong place’.
A lot of weeds are left over from the Middle ages when they were used as food and medicines Ground elder was once a vegetable served at the table and also used to help relieve Gout.
Ground elder, Lesser celandine, Mare’s tail and Ivy are my real problems. I control what I can but I have also learned to live with bits of them as I dislike using chemicals and if I can do it another way I will.
I banned all chemicals from my garden for 15 years while my children were growing up and I did not find the weed problem any worse than I do now when I do use some.
I find aerating the soil/lawn, mowing regularly, hoeing, with the odd bit of hand weeding mostly keeps them manageable. I am also very careful about what I introduce into the garden a plant from a neighbour or garden centre can introduce a new pest along with the plant. But the wind and wildlife will mostly bring fresh weeds.
Finally accepting that I cannot be ‘Weed free’ no longer stresses me out.
The May edition of GW magazine have done a good article on 8 root types of perennial weeds and how to deal with them. For those of us who ask about weeds I have condensed the article to help toidentify/manage our weeds. While this article does not cover all weedy problems it goes a long way to helping us understand the problem of a specific weeds and how to control them.
1) Taproots: Types includes Dandelion, Dock and Thistle which have thick deep roots to get moisture and to survive winter. They can be dug out with a daisy grubber or spot treated with a glyphosate weedkiller to get down to the root.
2) Dense mats: Types include Grasses, nettles and Yarrow. Which spread under the surface of the soil to make thick dense firmly rooted clumps. They can be dug up but any left behind will quickly regrow so you might want to treat the centre clump with glyphosate weedkiller first.
3) Large rootstock: Types include black and white Briony and Pokeweed. A rapid spread corky root can be 20cm under the soil. Dig up whole root and treat any new Spring growth with glyphosate weedkiller.
4) Woody scrub: Types include Brambles, Sycamore and Ivy. Spreads by seed to quickly form tough roots, brambles and Ivy also by shoot tips. Dig out when young but for woody shrub like growth cut to ground level and keep it that way to starve the roots and treat any new growth with brushwood killer.
5) Brittle roots: Types include Bindweed, Ground elder, Willow herb and Creeping thistle. Wide spreading roots which break up easily and produce new shoots. Cutting off the tops weakens them, but you need to sieve the soil if digging them up and use a glyphosate weedkiller to spot treat new shoots.
6) Bulbi-type roots: Types include Lesser celandine, Oxalis, Spanish bluebells and Three-cornered leek. Small bulbs which quickly spread. Hoe off the leaves before flowering and repeat when seen, in larger problem areas a ‘ light suppressant’ covering from March to June will also help.
7) Deep rooted: Include Horsetail and Japanese knotweed: Roots can go down a meter and spread widely close to the surface. Weedkillers are not effective. The ground needs to be cleared and a light suppressant membranefor 2 years even a Copper one in some case, some roots can come through concrete so you may need to seek expert advice.
8) Creeping roots: Types include Chickweed, Clover, Couch, Creeping Buttercup, Daisy, Selfheal and Speedwell. These tend to be most troublesome in lawns which can be controlled by Weed and feed, regular mowing to weaken them, good idea to scarify to lift the creepers before mowing. Spot weed treatment for stubborn ones

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Hi there,

I read gw and liked the article. I have to say, some of the most colourful flowers unfortunately are weeds.

Bineweed is a real pain but the flowers are a delicate blush of pink on White.

Dandelions are a menace, but what a wonderful shot of yellow.

Daisies, well I love mine in the lawn, with pink clover the bees love that too.
I love my weeds ( with the exception of nettles!!!!!)
Happy gardening.

24 Apr, 2011


Very interesting Drc, my main problem weeds are ground elder and bindweed, I never knew till recently that you could eat ground elder, I'm learning to live with them as like you I know they'll never be completely erradicated, they spread in from a track along the bottom of the garden under the hedges, I must admit I do spray some areas with roundup but unless you're really vigilant they still come back, keeps them under control a bit, I'm trying the method of pulling the leaves off every time I see them now is weakening the plants I think.

24 Apr, 2011


Nominated for GoYpedia "Weeds" .. !!!
I hope the editor approves ;o)

24 Apr, 2011


Thanks TT Lol

24 Apr, 2011


:o) Happy Easter Drc... x

24 Apr, 2011


and you to TT xx

24 Apr, 2011



24 Apr, 2011


I have also read the whole article ... Bindweed coming through from next door is my main problem ... it's odd as they love gardening yet seem to tolerate the wretched stuff! I just pull it out whenever I see it ... haven't resorted to weedkiller yet ... there may come a time though! : o (

24 Apr, 2011


I get Ground elder coming through from both my neighbours gardens ST but they dont really garden.

24 Apr, 2011


Grrr! . . . .

24 Apr, 2011


I can see the point in weedkilling Japanese Knotweed or using weedkiller to grow vegetables if you absolutely have to- otherwise I would always prefer to pull. Most things can be kept under control that way even if they like turning up again and again. You can eat dandelions apparently. I tried one today and it was shockingly bitter. Not for my salad bowl.

24 Apr, 2011


Brill a lot of work into this blog and very useful to us - :):):):) Thank you

I have horsetail in its own little pot - I also have ivy - but keeping it under control (well for now - lol) :):):)

24 Apr, 2011


Dont forget to have your pot on a slab or feet. Paul so the roots dont grow down through the bottom of the pot and escape.

25 Apr, 2011


They're on the stone work near lampost :) To make double sure - the ivy is a bit of a gamble though

26 Apr, 2011


thanks for all the work in the blog drc726 and the many helpfull comments.
such a lot of weeds which i have found to be rather helpful to me since we have come down south.
i actually encourage things like bindweeds, creeping buttercup, red and wh clover, speedwell, oxalis. not couch grass though or chickweed!!
for me they are in the frontline of covering bare soil and thus preserving the all important bit of humidy. it is only after they have become more or less established that i can start thinking of planting other plants. i do realize that conditions are very different here and things probl dont grow to plague proportions as in the uk, but weeds like bindweed i have found that as i let them get quite long and make sure that they dont flower, they are easily dealt with by just pulling them off when do do get to that stage and my own plants start to take over like rosemarin horizontalis which will crowd out all others if i let it, or that thug honeysuckle haliana....
brambles get mown down and thistles pulled or left for the goldfinches, which we get in their hundreds on the birsdfeeders, sorry the most were actually 49 in one go.
we have big flocks in the surrounding fields, not all due to my thistle tolerance!
i found all this out by a lot of experimenting, i did start off here by controlling weeds much more firmly but found it didnt work for me so now they work for me instead, most of the time ;))
i seem to have a real GOY day today, there is a howling gale out there, and that is one weather condition i cannt stand.

7 May, 2011


Thats an interesting slant on weeds Resi afterall they are only weeds if you dont want them.

7 May, 2011

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