Justin White, Landscaping Lessons│Need for weed control creeps in with rain – Santa Cruz Sentinel
After a long, warm summer, many of us are eager to accept the first rain that winter falls on us. It brings a sense of refreshment, rejuvenation, and renewal, but it can also provide the opportunity for a dreaded garden pest to emerge … weeds! If you are concerned about weeds showing up in your landscape this spring, now is the time to take responsibility before the heavy rain season begins.
Be aware of the different areas where weeds can enter your property. Shrub and tree garden beds are where weeds are the least attractive and give you the most headaches. Second, weeds can stifle healthy lawn leaves and then create brown spots as the perennial weeds die. Additionally, there are the ubiquitous weeds that seem to grow in every crack and corner that you didn’t know were there. After all, weeds grow in naturally undeveloped areas such as slopes and open fields. Think about each area in your landscape and how the weed control methods described can be applied differently to the zones.
Preventive and Cultural Weed Control These methods relate to efforts to prevent weeds from ever becoming present in your landscaped areas. Examples include using certified weed-free seeds when planting lawn seeds, cleaning tools and equipment before mobilizing for your project, and clearing nearby fields before the wild weeds get to be sown. Some additional examples of cultural weed control include maintaining healthy plants and ground cover, placing plants dense to create competition, ensuring optimal soil fertility, maintaining a full and healthy lawn, and applying mulch to bare dirt so that it is wind-blown Cannot germinate seeds. These methods will help reduce the need for chemicals and give you a chance to fight the uninvited visitors.
Mechanical weed control is any method that uses equipment or human power to remove weeds. This can include pulling, mowing, hoeing, hand working, and other hand tools that physically remove the weeds. This procedure is usually used after weeds have germinated. Alternatively, you can work the soil down to the ground if you see weeds popping up to disrupt their germination cycle. Although I’ll warn you, tillage practice is usually a revolving door to tillage, weed growth, tillage, and weed growth. There’s nothing wrong with going outside wearing your favorite glove and pulling a good old-fashioned weed. This method, when combined with preventive and cultural weed control, can help eliminate most of your weed problems.
Chemical weed control involves the use of a chemical agent to aid in weed control. There are many categories of chemical weed control, but here are the two most important:
Pre-emergent can be used to reduce the number of weeds that appear in your landscaped areas. Preemergent is a proactive approach to weed control. It forms a layer or barrier on the ground that prevents weeds from germinating and kills the seeds before they can develop into weeds in full form. Preemergent can be used in liquid or granular form and most require water to activate. Make sure you apply this before a rainy event. Otherwise, you will have to use irrigation or a hose to water it. After application it can take several weeks or up to several months, depending on the type and method of application. Applying this product in January can help reduce the spring weed explosion and therefore the amount of chemical spraying required.
Post-emergent herbicides are typically used as a last resort to control weeds. Since pre-emergence weed control is used to prevent weeds from growing, post-emergence weed control is used to control weeds after they have already germinated. There are many different types and uses of post-emergence weed control, starting with systemic or contact weeds. Systemic is absorbed by the plant to kill it from the root. This can take longer, but it usually prevents this plant from coming back. Contact herbicide is great for annual weeds as it kills on contact and ensures that the stem and leaves of the weed are destroyed immediately. There are also selective and non-selective herbicides. Selective herbicides are just supposed to kill weeds without damaging nearby grass. Nonselective are the most potent herbicides, killing everything they touch, including lawns, plants, and even trees. Be very careful when applying herbicides after emergence and always read the label before using the product.
Most of us would prefer not to use herbicides or chemicals to kill these pesky plants. Therefore, it is best to plan ahead and weed prevention to reduce the need for such active ingredients. While most of us see winter as a time to crouch and wait for spring, I recommend that you use the sun breaks between rains as an opportunity to weed your beds and gardens. Put some of these methods in place and keep weeds from overtaking your masterpiece this year!
Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named Business of the Year 2020 by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several nonprofits across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening requirements, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.