Weeds are everywhere this time of year. They are in your lawn and obviously on your mind as our mailbag has been full of questions about them. This week our Ask Monty’s segment is dedicate to all of those pesky, unwanted invasive species.
First, just for information’s sake. There is no scientific definition or classification of a weed. A weed, by definition, is any unwanted plant. Therefore, any plant, even a rose or tulip can be a weed if it is growing in an area where you do not want it to be. When commercial gardening stores and manufacturers talk of weeds they are generally speaking collectively about a group of grasses and plants that are commonly thought undesirable. For example, consider dandelions. They are the bane of my existence. However, in the culinary world, people like the bitter, peppery flavor of dandelion greens in salads. So, even though I cannot imagine it, some people actually cultivate them and there are even farmers who raise them as a cash crop!
All weeds serve a purpose, it is only when they violate our plans and living spaces that they become problems. So use care in eradicating all of them. They may be providing you with benefits that you are not aware of or could be helping to tell you a story about the condition of your soil. Listen to them, work with them when you can.
That said, I know how frustrating they can be and fight the good fight against some of them myself. Here are some questions and answers that have been on your minds lately. Oh, and if you have additional questions either post them in the comments section or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“We recently bought 50 wooded acres in the country as sort of a place to getaway on the weekends. It’s a great camping spot, but when I let our dogs out to run they came back covered in burrs! I have never seen so many of them. Is there a way to get rid of them?”
American Fork, Utah
Meet the cocklebur, one of the most annoying, evasive weeds found throughout the entire United States except in Alaska. Their most notable characteristic is their abundance of spiney burrs that have hook-tipped spines that easily attach themselves to clothing, fur or passing, happy dogs playing. Often referred to as “hitchhikers,” that’s how they seem to spread so easily by attaching themselves to anything that moves.
However, these horrible plants do have to have the right growing conditions to thrive in areas that are washed out, wetlands, disturbed areas, drainage channels, or in unattended fields.
In addition, their seeds and seedlings are also poisonous. Animals rarely eat them unless they get in their grazing paths, but children and young people have been made seriously ill and have even died from eating the seeds, which both look and taste like sunflower seeds.
The best way to get rid of these weeds is to apply weed killer in the fall and spring. Your local farm store, extension service or larger nurseries will be able to advise you on what is the most aggressive product to use.
One of the things to try this season if you are looking for a total kill with a ‘round-up’ like product containing glyphosate is adding Monty’s NanoBoost. It is an herbicide additive that dramatically improves the efficiency and kill rate of glyphosate and 2,4-D based herbicides. This product is only available from our agricultural dealers at this point, but with Southern States Co-ops now on board it should be fairly easy to find in the Eastern third of the country. Or you can call toll free and order it direct. Read more about NanoBoost, here. Then call us at 800-978-6342 to order NanoBoost.
“Last summer I noticed I had a lot of strange, thick-leafed patches of grass in my lawn. A friend told me that it looked like wild onion. Curious of course, and because it was obviously unsightly and out of place on the lawn, I dug one up to discover it had bulbs like an onion. Am I going to see more of this in the spring? If so, how do I get rid of it? Is it poisonous, as I have pets and I’m afraid my cat may mistake it for catnip?”
Wild Onions are harmless weeds, but they do stick up boldly out of a manicured lawn, looking very similar to an onion plant. They are found all over the world and grow wildly, although some species are treated as culinary delicacies. Nonetheless, having them come up in unwanted areas does not redeem their weed qualities. They grow in the fall to early winter and can be controlled through post-emergent broadleaf weed killer on individual plants.
“I have a patch of stinging nettles sprouting up in the corner of my yard, an area that I just haven’t had the time to maintain as well as I should. What’s the easiest way to get rid of these? They aren’t bothering anything, but I think I should get rid of it.”
Abbeville, South Carolina
Stinging nettles and common nettles are one and the same: vicious weeds that are not pleasant to come in contact with no matter what. It’s a perennial like most weeds, so unless you get rid of it soon, it will spread and become an even bigger problem year after year with its finger-like roots. It’s hard to believe that some people will harvest it and cook it for its nutritional value.
When eradicating this weed you can either go after it with an all-over weed killer in the winter or early spring or manually remove them by cutting them to the ground with a hedge trimmer and then digging up their roots. Once you get rid of the roots though spray a herbicide over the area for extra measure.
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