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How To Control Weeds

How to Control Weeds - Farmside Landscape Design

How To Control Weeds

Does it seem as though you’re always battling weeds? There are about 8,000 plants that behave as weeds – this is about 3% of the world’s 250,000+ plants, so how can you tell when a weed is really a weed? There are certain characteristics that weeds share, such as:


  • They tend to produce lots of seeds — sometimes tens of thousands per plant!
  • They can often grow in inhospitable conditions where other plants wouldn’t be able to survive.
  • They’re able to establish themselves quickly.
  • Some weed seeds can survive for long periods of time in the soil, remaining dormant until the soil is disturbed, triggering new growth.
  • Weeds often have the ability to spread easily, sometimes without seeds, reproducing vegetatively.


Types of Weeds


Weeds fall into both annual and perennial categories. Perennial weeds are the most difficult to control since they not only spread by seed, but by creeping roots as well. If you don’t remove the entire root, the weed will simply grow back again from any remaining piece. Yellow Nutsedge, Quackgrass, Hedge Bindweed and Red Sorrel are all perennial landscape weeds.


Annual weeds, like annual plants, germinate from seed, grow, flower and set seed, completing their lifecycle within one year. Chickweed and Hairy Bittercress are classified as annual weeds, but the latter (Cardamine hirsute) can go through its entire life cycle in a few weeks or months, meaning several generations can appear each year.


Weeds aren’t always necessarily “bad.” They provide benefits such as aerating and stabilizing the soil and providing it with organic matter, in addition to being a food source for humans as well as providing a habitat and food for wildlife, too.


Dandelions - Farmside Landscape & Design

Image credit: Pexels from Pixabay

You may have heard it said that “A weed is any plant you don’t want,” or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “A weed is a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered.” While there’s some truth to these sentiments, the Weed Science Society of America ( is a bit more precise in its designation of weeds:


Weed: “A plant that causes economic losses or ecological damages, creates health problems for humans or animals or is undesirable where it is growing.”


Noxious Weed: “Any plant designated by federal, state or local government officials as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Once a weed is classified as noxious, authorities can implement quarantines and take other actions to contain or destroy the weed and limit its spread.” (Bindweed is classified as a noxious weed).


Invasive Weed: “Weeds that establish, persist and spread widely in natural ecosystems outside the plant’s native range. When in a foreign environment, these invaders often lack natural enemies to curtail their growth, which allows them to overrun native plants and ecosystems.” Many invasive weeds are also classified as noxious.


For a list of noxious weeds by state, go to:


Weed Control


So what’s the best way to control weeds? A multi-tiered approach that includes a balance of chemical, physical, biological and cultural control methods is the most effective, especially since this varied approach helps to ensure that weeds don’t become resistant to herbicides from overuse.


  • The number one “rule” in weed control is not to let them seed, since they can produce thousands of seeds.
  • Be sure any new landscaping is established in soil that is weed-free. At least 2-3 inches of mulch will help to deter weed establishment/growth from any seeds that may have found their way into your garden from wind or birds.
  • Regular weeding is an extremely effective way to keep weeds in check. A great time to do some weeding is after a rainfall since the soil is softer and it’s easier to get the entire weed out.
  • Dealing with dandelions in your lawn? The best time to control them is in the fall, before they flower the following spring. A thick lawn will also help keep dandelions from establishing themselves and growing.


If you need help managing weeds in your landscape, give us a call or Contact Us at Farmside Landscape & Design today.


Main Image credit S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay