The sun is shining, your plants are blooming…and pesky weeds are starting to crop up all over your garden. What’s a gardener to do?
It’s not always easy figuring out how to tackle your garden’s unwanted guests. If you get too tough, you run the risk of damaging your beloved plants that you’ve spent so long nurturing. If you don’t get tough enough, though, the weeds can sap vital nutrients away from your chosen ones. Plus, they can be quite the eyesore in your otherwise pristine garden.
To help you get your garden back under control, we’ve compiled a list of 10 weeds that drive Canadian gardeners crazy — and tips on how to banish them from your yard forever.
LOOK: 10 Common Garden Weeds
Dodder: This ugly predator is also known as strangleweed, thanks to its proclivity to, well, strangle other plants. It spreads by seed, so when you set about removing it from the plant you’re trying to protect, Landscape Design recommends laying plastic around it t o prevent the seeds from getting back into the soil. It also suggests cutting the host plant down to below where the dodder has latched on to be sure you’ve gotten rid of it all.
Garlic Mustard: It may sound delicious, but garlic mustard is the bane of many gardeners’ existence. If you spot it in your garden, Fine Gardening suggests nipping them in the bud, so to speak, by cutting the flower stalks in the spring to keep them from spreading their seeds. If they’re not too close to your other plants, you can also try hand-pulling them. Be sure to get rid of everything you snip and pull to keep it from popping right back up.
Bindweed: These suckers have long roots, which makes them nearly impossible to hand-pull. Be patient in your quest to free your garden from bindweed: it will take more than just one attempt. If the bindweed isn’t too close to your preferred plants, Gardening Know How recommends pouring boiling water on it to kill it off. If that isn’t an option, be diligent about cutting it down to the root to keep it from photosynthesizing.
Crabgrass: It turns out that the boiling water trick works on crabgrass, too. Simply pour boiling water directly onto the crabgrass in order to kill it at the root. If crabgrass has invaded your lawn, too, this video from eHow has some helpful tips on how to banish it from your yard entirely.
Spotted Spurge: This dense, low-growing weed isn’t easy to get rid of, so your best offense is a solid defense. The University of California suggests constantly keeping an eye out for its telltale dark green leaves, and hand-pulling it immediately before it has a chance to multiply.
Dandelion: Some love ‘em. Most hate ‘em. If you fall into the latter camp, vinegar may be your best friend when it comes to booting dandelions out of your garden. Household vinegar won’t cut it, so pick up some specialty vinegar that has an acidity level of at least 20 per cent from your local gardening store. Weekend Gardener recommends pouring vinegar onto the dandelions and hand-pulling them, for an effective two-pronged attack.
Canada Thistle: This long-rooted menace likes to sink its tentacles into soil with low fertility. So Gardening Know How recommends improving your soil’s fertility to make it less attractive to Canada thistle. Or, you could use a reliable weed killer like Roundup or 2, 4-D to take it out. (The latter has been banned in some municipalities, so check to make sure it’s not on your city’s list of forbidden herbicides first.)
Ragweed: For allergy sufferers, ragweed is the worst weed of them all. The University of Minnesota suggests being vigilant, and hand-pulling young ragweed as soon as you see it. You can also wipe herbicide directly onto it to boot it out of your garden.
Bermuda Grass: It may look like crabgrass, but Bermuda grass is actually much worse than its pesky friend. Why? Because it doesn’t die off at the end of the season – it simply becomes dormant during winter. Organic gardener Wayne Kessler told Redding that his best defense against Bermuda grass is a rototiller, which he uses diligently to prevent it from accessing the energy it needs to survive.
Common Burdock: If you’re vigilant about removing burdock’s flower stalks, it will eventually die off. Ontario Wildflowers recommends cutting burdock down to the root to get rid of it – it’s not necessary to dig up the root.