Weed it and reap... the ben­e­fits

Rutherglen Reformer - - House & Home - David Domoney With David Domoney

Weeds are sim­ply plants in the wrong place but that doesn’t mean they are not su­per-an­noy­ing. They do need deal­ing with – yet ig­no­rance of weeds is as ram­pant as the pesky things them­selves.

A study of am­a­teur gar­den­ers found half were un­able to dis­tin­guish flow­ers from weeds.

One in 10 thought dan­de­lions and bram­ble blos­soms were flow­ers. Half didn’t know morn­ing glory was a weed. A third thought ivy was a flower and one in five thought creep­ing but­ter­cup was, too.

They may not al­ways look ugly, but weeds will take nu­tri­ents and mois­ture from our plants of choice – and their spread can be ram­pant.

Re­mem­ber the old adage – one year’s seed­ing, seven years’ weed­ing? So get on them be­fore they take over your gar­den.

Tak­ing control of weed pop­u­la­tions early on in the year will save you end­less grief later.

Once they grow, es­tab­lish and set seed, it is far harder to erad­i­cate them. I’ve seen dan­de­lions grow­ing through Tar­mac drive­ways like wet pa­per.

Once you know what you are look­ing at, you can de­cide how best to han­dle them.

Weeds can be di­vided into two main groups – an­nual and peren­nial.

An­nual weeds grow, flower and re­lease their seeds in one year.

The par­ent plant dies in au­tumn but only af­ter it has spread its seeds. Chick­weed and bit­ter­cress are types of an­nual weeds.

Peren­ni­als come back ev­ery year and can live in­def­i­nitely.

Dan­de­lions, net­tles and bram­bles are the best-known Bri­tish ex­am­ples.

The top method of get­ting rid of weeds is to re­move them from the soil the old-fash­ioned way. Small weeds can be pulled out by hand. Larger or peren­nial weeds need to be dug out with a fork or trowel. Us­ing a gar­den kneeler or some knee pads makes the job slightly less back­break­ing. Try to re­move all the root sys­tem. Some will re­gen­er­ate, zom­bielike, from the small­est scrap of root that is left in the soil. If you can’t get on your hands and knees, then use a hoe. Put the blade on the ground and pull it to­wards you, sev­er­ing the stem. But this method only kills an­nual weeds and seedlings. Chem­i­cal weed­killers are not for ev­ery­one but if you are us­ing them, here is what you need to know.

Ob­vi­ously al­ways wear pro­tec­tive cloth­ing – gloves, glasses and an apron– and follow the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions care­fully.

Con­tact weed­killer burns any part of the plant it is sprayed on to, tak­ing out leaves and stems. Sys­temic weed­killer is ab­sorbed into the plant and trav­els deep down the roots to wipe it out from be­low the ground.

Don’t cut off the top of the plant as it starts to die be­cause sys­temic weed­killer needs to work its way to the roots over time to be ef­fec­tive.

In or­der to stop them coming back, how you dis­pose of weeds is just as im­por­tant as how you kill them.

Do not put them on your com­post heap or you could end up dig­ging them back into your borders.

Some peo­ple say the roots and seeds will break down but it’s not a risk I like to take.

And don’t leave them ly­ing around the gar­den. You will risk wind or wildlife spread­ing seeds.

Get them into your wheelie bin if you have one, or chuck them on a bon­fire and say good­bye for ever.

Wage war on weeds early in the sea­son be­fore they take over your gar­den, make an almighty mess and rob choice plants of vi­tal nu­tri­ents

Some weeds can be pulled up by hand, but oth­ers may need to be sprayed

On the clock: Dan­de­lion dis­as­ter

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