About the Journal
2003 Highlights &
Calendar of Events
Things to Expect & Do
An Agave Stalk
Becomes A Nursery
Pruning My Red Bird
Coping with those
Who Am I?
Going Bananas in the
Small Trees for the
in Citrus Leaves
Landscape Water Use
Results are In
Two Citrus Clinics
B E T T E R L A N D S C A P E D E S I G N
Coping with those Irritating Weeds!
by Sandy Turico,
Is there anything more irritating to home gardeners than discovering those pesky
weeds in their gardens and landscapes? Weeds are not only unsightly, they
compete with our more attractive plantings for water, light and nutrients. The
secret to tolerating weeds is to learn take control of them before they take
over your yard.
Here in Maricopa County, homeowners battle infestations of such weeds as
nutsedge, spurge, dodder and oxalis in lawns, desert landscapes and gardens.
Even Bermuda grass can be regarded as a weed when it spreads into areas where it
is not wanted.
FIRST STEP: PROPER IDENTIFICATION
How can the homeowner keep these
nuisances to a minimum? First, know what you're dealing with. Check with your
library, the Internet, your neighborhood nursery, or the Cooperative Extension
Office to help you identify the weeds you are trying to control.
You'll discover that weeds may be annual or perennial, grass weeds or broadleaf;
there are those that reproduce by seed, and those that reproduce by stolons or
rhizomes. Some weeds are prevalent in lawns, others in desert landscapes. Some
invade both. It is important to be aware of the type of weed present in order
to treat the problem correctly.
You may be trying to cope with annual weeds that complete their life cycle
during one season; spurge, puncture vine, dodder, mustard and bur clover are
examples of annuals. Summer annual weeds sprout in the spring and go to seed in
the fall; winter annuals germinate in the fall and live through the winter
before dropping their seeds.
Perennial weeds such as oxalis, nutsedge, wild celery, field bindweed, or
Bermuda grass may be causing problems in your landscape. Perennials are harder
to control because they can survive for many years.
Mechanical controls can be very effective and do not negatively impact the
environment. There are a variety of ways to exterminate weeds without resorting
to chemicals. While the following methods may require a little extra exertion,
it is well worth the effort.
Organic or gravel mulch is one of the most efficient ways to keep the weeds
down. A few inches of mulch will deter seeds from germinating and growing.
Weeds that do manage to grow through the mulch are easier to pull out. Think
twice about laying plastic under gravel; although it may be of some help in
controlling annual weeds, the perennials may grow right through the plastic. In
time the material will begin to fall apart and become another problem to deal
Eliminate weeds before they develop seedheads. Seeds laying dormant in the soil
will germinate when the temperature and moisture conditions are right or when
the soil is disturbed. You can stay ahead of the game by reducing the number of
Grab a hoe or shovel to get rid of weeds. Removing the top growth repeatedly
will weaken the plants and eradicate them if you're patient; digging out roots
and rhizomes (underground runners) will also get rid of them in due course.
Don't leave the weeds you've removed on the ground. Dispose of them or throw
them on the compost pile (minus the seedheads!). Other natural ways to manage
your weed problem include solutions as simple as vinegar or boiling water.
Always try mechanical or natural methods first. The environment will thank you!
If your weed problem has become unmanageable, you may decide to resort to
chemical controls. There is an arsenal of herbicides available to homeowners
locally. Pre-emergents, contact herbicides, foliar-applied translocated
herbicides...the options can be confusing as well as hazardous. Become informed
about the different alternatives: read the labels and proceed with caution! The
Cooperative Extension offers a number of publications (8103, 8653, MC51, Q349)
that list various herbicides and provide details about their use.
Like it or not, weeds are a fact of a gardener's life; short of paving over
one's entire yard, there is no way to entirely eliminate them. Still, armed
with the right information and proper tools they can be managed efficiently.
Your reward will be relaxing in a beautiful, weed-free outdoor environment!
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated January 23, 2004
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
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