Weeds can be aptly defined as plants that grow where they are not wanted, competing with other plants for space, water and sunlight. On an average our landscapes/gardens/Flowering Trees are invaded by hundreds of weeds classified as Broadleaf weeds, creeping weeds, rosette weeds, Grassy weeds etc. based on their characteristics. Some commonly occurring weeds include dandelions, plantains, docks, Clover, chickweed, crabgrass and wild violets.
Unlike other factors, weeds can cause havoc by changing the entire color and texture of your landscape. Thus it becomes important to give high level of importance in dealing with them. Given below are some solutions to deal with weeds in an effective manner.
Controlling weeds using Herbicides
Herbicides are special chemicals that act as plant killers. They are highly effective and unlike other measures can help put a permanent end to weeds. But they have some very eminent drawbacks which is why most landscapers shy away from using them.
Some disadvantages of using herbicides are as follows:
- Herbicides if not used properly can kill normal landscaping plants in addition to the weeds
- Long term use of herbicides can lead to ground and water pollution
- One needs to have in-depth understanding of weeds and weeding seasons to use herbicides to maximum advantage
- Herbicides can cause damage to aquatic wildlife
Irrespective of the drawbacks proper use of per-emergent herbicides as well as regular herbicides can help you put a stop to weed growth altogether. The variety of herbicides available in the market is huge with each one developed for a unique weed family. To select the right kind of herbicide make sure you know what kind of weed you are dealing with (make a visit to your local county weed control officer if unsure). In addition be sure to read the herbicide label and instructions carefully before buying and using.
Controlling weeds using Drip Irrigation
Using Drip irrigation can help you control weed growth to a moderate extent. Drip irrigation involves watering the plants using slow water pressure. The water is provided directly on to the base of the plants keeping much of the soil surface dry. Though primarily using drip irrigation is not a solution to control weed growth completely, they sure can enhance weed control in comparison to a sprinkler or other types of irrigation system.
Controlling Weeds with Soil Solarization
Soil Solarization is the process of killing weeds by fumigating and warming the soil using UV stabilized plastic. In other words, soil solarization involves heating the soil to kill weeds or their germinating seeds. The process involves preparing the soil for planting like tilling and irrigating, and finally laying one or two layers of UV stabilized plastic like black plastic tightly over it. The soil is left covered for four to eight weeks during hot summer days after which the plastic is removed completely without disturbing the soil.
Though solarization can help you effectively control weeds and soil fungi it would be only logical to say at this point that the effectiveness of solarization depends entirely on the nature of soil, duration of the process and the nature of weeds. This article offers a good insight on the soil solarization process.
Controlling Weeds Using In-Organic Mulch
Mulches do the dual work of moisture conservations and weed control which makes them an extremely important part of any landscape. You can get two types of mulches in the market – organic and inorganic. Organic mulches also know as natural mulches are made from plant or animal residues and have the property of decomposing over time. Some organic mulches include crushed corncobs, sawdust, wood chips, clippings, pine straw or bark. Inorganic mulches on the other hand are man-made and do not decompose. Inorganic mulches include Stone, gravel, lava rock, pebbles, shredded tires, white marble chips etc.
In comparison to organic mulches, inorganic mulches like lava rocks have shown to provide better control again weeds. Again inorganic mulch does not erode away with water as the case with organic mulches and can offer a much longer protection against weeds. One general problem with in-organic mulch like lava rock is that they can sink below soil surface allowing weeds to germinate on the mulch layer. This can be avoided by making use of a strong landscaping fabric beneath the rock.
Controlling Weeds using Landscaping Fabric
Landscape fabrics can play a crucial role in suppressing perennial and annual weeds especially when used with inorganic mulch like lava rock. In comparison to other materials like black plastic, landscaping fabrics allow water to pass through and permit exchange of oxygen and Co2 gases.
If you want to avoid the use of mulch and want to stick with landscaping fabric alone for weed control, you can go for chemically treated landscaping fabrics. These special landscaping fabrics come with added herbicides like trifluralin which can help in effective weed control.
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