Have you noticed what a good show the weeds are putting on this year?
The wet, warm weather that we had earlier in the summer has encouraged growth and weeds have just loved it. So, what’s to be done about them?
What are weeds?
Very simply, weeds are uninvited guests in the garden. They can quickly take over at this time of year so it’s important to keep on top of them as they compete for light, space and moisture in the garden.
Annual weeds are in many ways the easiest to deal with; they normally reproduce by means of seeds and are best dealt with by hoeing.
The gardener’s best friend at this time of year is a hoe. There are several types available but my favourite is the Dutch hoe. It’s designed to push or pull through the soil to cut weeds just under the surface. Its tool-head is a loop of flat, sharpened strap metal. Once you’ve sliced off the top of the weeds, leave them on the surface to dry out in the sun – this is a job for a dry day.
Perennial weeds are trickier to deal with – they are the criminals that pop up year after year, as well as sowing seed. Common culprits are dandelions, ground elder, bindweed, brambles, nettles, couchgrass and in Oxfordshire, ivy can be quite a problem.
It’s very important to remove the roots of these weeds or they will grow back, even if you leave a tiny bit in the ground. If you’re an organic gardener use a hand fork or trowel to dig out the whole plant, leaving none of the root behind.
If you don’t mind using chemicals in the garden, use liquid Glyphosate to control these rogues. Use according to the manufacturer’s instructions on a still, dry day. These weed killers work through a systemic action so they are absorbed into the root of the plant from the leaf. If you accidentally spray a neighbouring precious plant, you may kill it too – so be careful!
If you have an area in your garden that is badly overgrown with weeds and very little else, consider covering the area for a growing season with an old carpet or sheets of black plastic pegged down. This stops the light getting through and will eventually kill all the weeds. It’s fairly drastic action because obviously it looks awful, but it will work well in the long term.