In an average Aussie garden, lawn weeds range from ugly lawn fixtures to painful pests, there are so many varieties it can be difficult to keep tabs on them. Regular weeding is one of the more tedious chores that form part of gardening.
In this article we will cover:
- What Is A Weed
- Types of Weeds
- Reasons For Weed Overgrowth
- How To Get Rid Of Weeds – The 10 Tips in detail
What Is A Weed?
Weeds are unwanted plants that grow naturally in the garden, lawn, parks. In general terms they are just unwanted either because they are unattractive, rough, or excessive.
Of course, sometimes plants that are unwanted at times become wanted at others, but something that is prevalent and not pretty gets known as a weed.
If one species of plant is wanted to grow in the garden, the other species of a plant that competes in the same area will be considered as the weed. But, in other instances, those unwanted plants can become highly desirable (depending upon the nature of the requirement), like dandelion plants, which are used for decoration as well as for medicines. A weed will nearly always be able to survive in diverse environments and reproduce speedily, even with a lack of water and nutrients.
Removing weeds is required to keep the other plants in your garden healthy as weeds cause damage to the neighboring plants by consuming the nutrients from the soil and placing their root system where other plants would also want to.
Types Of Weeds
- Crabgrass: The unwanted green plant (botanical name - Digitaria), usually grows in hot plus dry summers and dies at the start of the fall. Plus, these plants would sprout every year, no matter what. Hence, they require regular weeding every summer.
- Pigweed: A genus of short-lived perennial plants (botanical name - Amaranthus), these weeds love warm weather and grow in early summers to late springs.
- Chickweed: These plants can endure pests and plant viruses and protect other plants from their attack. They grow in rainy seasons or well-watered areas. Its botanical name is Stellaria media.
- Dandelions: An almost flower like specimen sporting yellow petals that produce food for bees and often considered the most common wild plant. They can reproduce because of their large and deep taproots. Dandelions are wind-borne, it means their seeds spread through air. Taraxacum (Dandelions) in the context of lawns are not considered weeds sometimes, because they are used as a vegetable or herbal medicine, and can be quite pretty too.
- Buckhorn Plantain: This weed commonly known as an English plantain or buck plantain, can usually be found in meadows and lawns. It can reproduce by spreading its seeds, even in diverse conditions.
The above list is certainly not comprehensive, there are various other weed plants, actually in Australia alone there are 112 weed species. You can read about common Australian weeds further at flower power's guide.
Reasons For Weed Overgrowth
There could be several reasons for weeds to grow more than usual even in a well-established lawn, such as:
- Improper fertilization, mowing practices, and irrigation
- Plants are being located at a far-off distance from each other
- Too much mulch.
- Not enough strong plants of your choice planted - giving the weeds more space and nutrients to grow
- Ideal weather / sunny locations
How To Get Rid Of Weeds – 10 basic Tips
1. Pull Them Out
Pulling out the weeds with hands is one of the most handy tips to remove them from the area. Here, comes an old saying in mind which goes perfect with the situation:
"Pull when wet, hoe when dry."
Your hands may hurt if bare, for this, you can use one of many garden tools like claw gloves and try to weed-out the unwanted plants/grass from the soil deeply when the land is moist or wet, without hurting your hands. Make sure; you have pulled them out fully, as if the roots remain they have a chance to grow-back.
Note: When using your hands, sometimes, the seeds of the weeds can fall off and get scattered into the garden. So, it's more appropriate to use gardening tools that you then carry in a bag and then wash off.
2. Cut Off Their Heads
Sometimes, it is merely impossible to pull out the plants by hand. In those cases, the easy way to avoid them spreading their seeds on the ground is to trim the plant tops. Just pick the gardening knife and lop the plant's head off. By doing so, the seeds that were on the weed plant's top will not spread over the lawn. Plus, it will reduce their growth in the area. The remnant plant might die later, especially it you repeat regularly.
3. Remove Their Light – Use Mulch
Keeping the weed plants and the soil moist may help you to achieve your goals. For this, cover these plants with mulch. The mulch is importantly used to encourage these plants control and prevention. With this, the mulch sheet may hide the weed plants from the sunlight. Mulch is an easy method and helps your soil keep cool, and eliminates light that weeds need to grow. However, make sure to keep it around two inches from your lawn since it can kill your grass.
Read More: Using mulch to prevent weeds in your garden.
4. Watering The Nearby Plants Deeply
Water consumption is a basic requirement of the plant, whether an ordinary or a weed. However, if the desired plants are being watered deeply and infrequently, it will strengthen the shrubberies and make them capable of competing with unwanted (un-needed) plants. Moreover, it is recommended to place soaker hoses or drip irrigation around the plants (beneath the mulch) to water them. Drip irrigation will avoid the water reaching the weeds and therefore help weaken them.
5. Mowing Your Lawn
Mow the lawn and forget the weeds, well combined with the next step this may be enough for lawn weeds. Use a lawnmower that will help you to perform tasks efficiently and quickly. Make sure you have a lawnmower that is appropriate for your lawn and safe for you to use, alternatively compare lawn mowing services that will do the job for you.
6. Feed The Plants and attack the weeds
Feed your lawn with the correct amount of nutrients. The lesser volume of nutrients may not the lawn grow, however, don't fertilise too much as over fertilisation can help weeds to sprout in the yard.
You can also buy 'Feed and weed' products that selectively kill common weeds while feeding the lawn in one easy step.
7. Homemade Weed Killer Recipes
Some interesting home made solutions can help to prevent unwanted plants from growing into the yard. Such as:
Vinegar: It helps to eliminate weeds because of acetic acid in it. Moreover, the vinegar can also affect other plants which are not meant to be destroyed. So cover the desired plants before spraying the vinegar on the neighboring wild plants. You can also attach a bottle mouth with a spray, place it over the top of the un-needed plants and then spray.
Salt: Add 1 cup salt in 2 cup boiling water and drench the solution on to the wild plants. Furthermore, you can pour salt directly on the unwanted weeds or grass which grows in the lawn, pathways, or patios.
Pro-tip: You can also mix salt and vinegar to get more accurate and happening results.
Other options: While you can find plenty of alternatives which are easily available at home like baking soda, soap, sugar, or citrus juice, etc. I'd stay clear unless you really know what you are doing, from the perspectives of cost and effectiveness vs dedicated commercial products.
8. Using Newspaper To Control Weeds
Astonished reading this tip? Don't be. Newspapers also help to minimize weeds. The carpet of paper, when laid down over the plants, halts sunlight and oxygen (air) to reach the wild plants. Put several layers of newspapers on the plants, wet them down so they can't move from their place, and then covering then with the mulch will definitely aid in decreasing rough grass. According to Ciarlo:
"As the paper decomposes, it also feeds the soil, making this a tip no gardener should be without."
Therefore, using old newspapers can help you get rid of these undesirable grass in your garden.
9. Weedmat / Landscaping Fabric
Landscaping Fabric or weedmat is a woven cloth placed in garden beds to help keep weeds at bay. It can be made of all kinds of materials, such as linen, polyester or recycled plastic.
Good quality landscape fabric can't be torn or stretched easily, and it works like mulch but is more effective. Before buying make sure the holes in the fabric are small enough to stop weeds from growing through.
What are the Pros and Cons Of Weedmat?
- Discourages weeds: It stops sunlight from reaching weed seedlings, which eliminates or reduces them.
- Environmentally-friendly: The fabric limits the need for harsh weed control chemicals. Plus, some are made from recycled materials.
- Cost-effective: Fabric can last for years, so there's no need to buy new weed control every season.
- Better than plastic sheeting: Unlike plastic alternatives, landscape fabric has tiny holes that allow water to reach plant roots.
- Retains moisture: Weedmat reduces surface evaporation, so less watering is needed.
- Inflexible: Each time you dig a hole, the fabric becomes less effective. So, it's not practical for gardeners who like to move plants around.
- Not a perfect barrier: Plant roots in search of air and water will still occasionally break through the the weedmat barrier.
- Negative effects on nearby plants over time: After a while, soil packed underneath loses breathability, and plant roots can suffer from lack of air and water.
- Restricts soil-mixing organisms: This barrier prevents earthworms, insects, and beneficial fungi from moving through the top layer of the soil. So, they cannot mix organic material on the surface deeper into the soil.
- Stops natural nutrients: Organic mulches, like grass clippings or shredded leaves, can't reach the soil to work their magic.
10. Cornmeal, Or Corn Gluten Meal
This is a weed prevention tip. Cover the an area with the cornmeal to prevent weeds from growing. Use the cornmeal before the seed germination process starts, so it can abolish the formation of the weed seeds and stop them from sprouting.
The cornmeal does two chores simultaneously:
- Feeds the lawn (Corn gluten is a by-product of corn mill process that holds up to 10 percent nitrogen)
- Destroys weeds
Pro tip: Avoid watering for five days (try and make sure that there is no rain in the forecast during these days) after applying the cornmeal. Double the dose to eradicate crabgrass growth.
Weeds are undeniably the most "unwanted plants" to have in anyone's garden. Above, we have thoroughly discussed the weeds and the tips to kick them out of your garden. By implementing these easy and quick instructions, you can make your garden weed-free once again. The more the lawn is free from these un-required plants, the more it will look green and beautiful.
Have yourself a lush green garden and enjoy coffee there 😊