Weeds and Your Garden
Pulling Weeds--Not Pulling Teeth
When it comes to maintaining a garden, even the most experienced gardener eventually has to pull weeds. Weeding is part of gardening. Here are a few ways to simplify the task:
- Tools. A variety of garden tools, available at garden supply stores, make weeding easier.
- Timely watering. Deep roots are easier to remove in damp (or wet) soil than in dry soil. You can dampen the area to be weeded yourself, or do your weeding right after a heavy rain. In either case, don’t compact wet soil, as doing so damages the soil structure
|Many wildflowers and native plants are attractive to beneficial insects, making them a desirable addition to some home gardens.|
Balanced Weed Management
IPM - or integrated pest management - means balancing your hopes for a weed-free garden with society's need for a healthy environment. People who practice IPM consider many sustainable strategies that work together to keep pests in check. Once you've educated yourself about the options, the standards you set and the methods you use are your choice.
|Common groundsel - an annual with deeply lobed leaves and small yellow disk flowers - contains alkaloids that make it poisonous to horses and cattle.|
A word about herbicides
As shown in this brochure, it's possible to manage weeds without herbicides. If you do decide to use herbicides, consult the Cornell Cooperative Extension Guide: Commercial Production and Maintenance of Trees and Shrubs and consider the following:
- Effectiveness. Are weeds at the right growth stage? Most herbicides are designed to work within a specific time frame. For example, preemergence products are effective only before germination, not on established weeds. Do you have the proper equipment, and if so, is it properly calibrated? Is the product appropriate for your weeds? Check the label.
- Environment. Valuable plants can be harmed or killed if they come into contact with nonselective herbicides. Water and wind carry herbicides, reducing their effectiveness in your garden and polluting the environment. Avoid applying herbicides when it's windy or just before a heavy rain. Reduce your risk of exposure by wearing protective equipment, as indicated on the label.
- Economics. What is the cost? Number of applications? Many persistent weed problems can be solved by using alternative strategies.