Weeds ain't weeds

If you have weeds in your garden-there is a good reason. Learn how to manage your weeds and understand the important part they play in our Eco system.

Its summer. In February its hot, humid and raining, more or less. As a result, all your plants in the garden are putting on new foliage and height. This includes all the weeds. Weeds are there for a good reason, and they are not that difficult to manage.

What is the classification of a weed? A plant growing where it’s not supposed to be growing. That statement doesn’t say much about the plant but says more of the gardener, culture, beliefs and the gardener’s environment.

Weeds come in all shapes and sizes, trees, shrubs, grasses and ground covers. Many weeds are introduces species used for cattle fodder and ornamental plants but there are also native weeds creating problems.

Weeds are an important part of the eco-system. Weeds improve the soil, breaking up hard-pans and clay. Weeds mine the soil with their deep taproots, bringing nutrients to the stem and foliage which will eventually break down and feed the soil. Weeds are a good food source for humans, insects and grazers, domestic and wild. Honey bees collect a large amount of pollen and nectar from weeds. Weeds are pioneering plants, meaning they are one of the first plants to colonise disturbed soil.

You might have noticed that some weeds have the most beautiful flowers. Many flowering weeds have been bred as cultivars for the amenity Horticulture industry, like the Lantana and Verbena. The cultivars are bred for larger flower heads, broader range of colours and are typically not as vigorous as their wild cousins. Unfortunately some of the cultivars revert back to their original habit.

These days we don’t talk about eradicating weeds as they are a very important aspect of survival on our precious planet. It’s all about managing weeds in in your garden. They are many ways to control weeds in your garden without reaching for the very expensive and dangerous chemical.

A strategic plan will save your back, hands and temper. Control and removal of weeds are according to its life cycle and habit. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You don’t have a weed problem, you have a duck deficiency. Ducks love nutgrass.

  • Seedlings and young plants are easy to pull out by hand. Remove weeds before they set seed.

  • A pair of pliers clamped at the base of weed will even convince the most stubborn taproot to come out.

  • Broad leafed weeds in your lawn are an indicator that the grass requires topsoil and fertilising. If the growing environment in not ideal, the weeds will not grow to its full potential.

  • Reduce direct sunlight and cover bare soil with mulch, ground covers or shrubs. Most weeds require full sun to prosper. Its nature’s way to hold down our precious top soil by covering it with fast growing weeds, preventing wind and rain erosion. If you use chemicals to control weeds, make sure you use the correct herbicide for the species. Read the label and use the strength recommended for that particular weed.

  • Spot spray weeds on a calm day, usually in the morning once the dew had dried. Remember to keep your chemicals in your yard only and be aware of spray drift.

Next time you see those large beautiful, purple thistle flower in the paddock or the white heads of the Billy goat weed, I hope you see them from a different perspective. They provide habitat and food for native wildlife and perhaps one day will be bred into a stunning cultivar for your grandchildren to enjoy.

Happy gardening.

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Mobile: 0404 815 892

E: eva@gardenconsultancy.info

Eva Erhardt
Qualified Horticulturist

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