Friday, March 26, 2010

Of the War on Weeds

I don't mind weeding, in fact, I find it somewhat therapeutic. (I get that from my Mom--apparently it is an inherited trait!) However, we have half an acre of landscaped yard, and well, enough is enough. I feel like I spend the majority of my summers trying to keep the weeds under control in my yard (with varying success depending on the weed.). Anyway, I decided I wasn't going to mess around any more, so I signed up for a weed management class at the county extension office. It was a two hour class, and I was somewhat perturbed when we spent an hour and a half of the time just on identification of weeds, (I don't care what the darn buggers look like, just tell me how to kill them!!), but there were a few good tips I picked up at the end of the class that I will pass along if any one is interested.

Quack grass is a common weed in this and many other areas, and is annoying in lawns. To get rid of it (and other weeds, for that matter!)put on a disposable rubber glove, put a cotton glove over it, and dip your fingers in a solution of three parts water to one part Roundup. Then you just wipe your wet, gloved fingers over the grass, and it should take care of it. Don't water or cut the grass for a few days. (BTW, the roots of quack grass are edible, if anyone cares.)

Another way our instructor recommended for reducing weeds in lawns, is to water only once, maybe twice a week, very deeply. If you water about two inches for a normal soil, it will drain down about a foot. The roots of the grass will grow down to however deep the water penetrates, and the deeper the roots, the more competition they will be for the weeds, and hopefully, they will crowd out the weeds all together. He recommended keeping the grass at about 2 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches for maximum weed control.

A healthy weed is easier to kill then a sick weed. (The idea being that if a plant is healthy and absorbing all the nutrients from the soil, the sunlight, etc., it will much more easily absorb your weedkiller.)

The best time to manage perennial weeds is in the fall. He said with his dandelions, he sprayed them in the fall and the next year, he only had one dandelion in his entire yard. If you spray dandelions in the spring, it only kills the tops of the plant but the root is still alive.

For weeds in the garden...till in early spring or late fall. All the weeds that will sprout in your garden will be in the top inch of soil, and apparently 50% of the weeds that will sprout, will come up at the same time in the spring. Anyway, our instructor lets the first crop of weeds come up in his garden (despite strange looks from his neighbors), sprays them with Roundup, waits a couple of days, then plants his garden. Then, the veggies will grow, crowding out the rest of the weeds that want to come up, before they have a chance to come up! (Did that make any sense at all? I understood it allright when he told us, but I'm not explaining it very well! Anyway, he said that weeding is a pretty simple task once a week after following that process. He also emphasized making sure to plant your stuff close enough together that it crowds out the weeds. Where ever there is not something, weeds will grow!

Ummmm...what are just a couple of interesting tidbits: June grass (also known as cheat grass and crab grass) is highly flammable. It is a big problem in Idaho because when it catches fire, it burns very quickly and gets rid of a lot of the native vegetation. Our instructor said that as a scout, he and his friends would use that as a fire starter in their fire-building contests, and always won! Very clever!

Second interesting fact: Our country spends about $10 billion a month on the war on terror--about $120 billion a year. We spend as a country about $138 billion a year on weed control! Crazy!!

A good website for learning about and identifying weeds is

That's all for now, folks! Comment if you have any burning weed questions, and since I am now an expert on weeds, I will answer it for you. (-;

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