In the spring and early summer, I have a lot of weeding to do. It can be a gratifying endeavour — the satisfaction of pulling a whole root system out of the ground, getting intimate with what’s going on at soil level, tidying up a messy bed — and it’s an important task. If the weeds are left to grow, they will compete for water and nutrients. Plus, they could go to seed, potentially creating thousands of new plants and overtaking your flowers and veggies in no time.
Before you plant, it’s important to get rid of all the weeds that you can see but don’t be surprised if more appear after you plant your seeds or seedlings. The easiest time to get them is in “the hair stage,” when their little roots are not much bigger than a hair, by lightly pulling a hoe through the ground. If you do this every 10 days throughout early and late spring, you’ll be so on top of it, the weeds won’t stand a chance. Unless, of course, you’ve got some of the serious contenders lurking in the ground; perennial weeds, which come back year after year, can take a longer time to eradicate.
Weeding after a good rain or watering before you start will help immensely in your ability to remove the roots, which is what you want to destroy. If the plant is large enough, or the soil is compacted enough to require digging tools, use a fork rather than a trowel or shovel to avoid breaking up the roots. Some plants are so tenacious that a stray piece of root will create a whole new plant.
Here are some common weeds to help you recognize and control them:
This is a perennial that spreads by its long white roots and must be eradicated completely. Even a small piece left in the soil can start a new colony. It can take a few years of diligent removal to be rid of this stubborn creeper. The variegated version is often sold in nurseries as "Snow on the Mountain." All I can say is beware!