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June 20, 2012

Well we are finally getting our beautiful days of sun and everything is growing faster. The thick green grass, beautiful flowers and of course the bane of every gardener’s existence…Weeds! So in tribute to our constant foe, here is a blog with a few steps on how to defeat (or at least knock back) three of our most persistent garden adversaries!


Dandelions: These weeds challenge even the most accomplished lawn connoisseurs. They grow quickly and the bloom to seed time is incredibly short. Once they seed, the seeds spread everywhere on the wind. If you have a neighbor that doesn’t take care of them, you can quickly have a problem in your own yard.


  • Methods of Treatment:

    •  In lawn: You can use 2-4-D or a weed and feed fertilizer. Note – these sprays/feeds are broad leaf killers so they will kill any broad leaf plant! Avoid your gardens and don’t treat on windy days, as always FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!

    • In beds: Pulling is your best option. Since the dandelion is a tap root plant (a single root going straight down) there are several tools that will assist you in getting out the root. It is important to get out the majority of the root. If you just “pop the top” off it will be back very quickly.


Chickweed: This weed never ceases to amaze me. It is able to mimic and grow in many different ways in an attempt to “match” many of the plants it is growing around. It will always have a similar leaf pattern and mat-like growth habit (if it is not climbing on the plants around it) but you have to keep a keen eye out for this weed since it likes to hide from view!


  • Methods of Treatment: You can use the same broad leaf spray in your lawn. It will need to be pulled in most other applications. Make sure you get to it before it goes to seed. Also once the weed is pulled you can apply Corn Gluten or Preen which will work as a pre-emergent that stops seeds from germinating. Don’t use them on your garden if you are going to be planting seeds!


Horsetail: When I first moved to Alaska I saw this weed along a fence by the road. It looked like a beautiful mat of green “fern” like plants. The problem with horsetail is getting it out of an area. It is a plant that sprouts from root runners under the surface so it spreads quickly and pervasively.


  • Methods of Treatment: There are many suggestions for removing this pesky plant. Roundup doesn’t really work on it (surprisingly since I thought round up worked on everything…). 2-4-D will knock it back (surprisingly since it is a broad leaf killer). If you are a diligent weeder you can keep pulling every time it sprouts up but it almost always comes back from a pulling, even a consistent one. I have seen people dig up their soil 6” down and replace with new soil. That seems to make a big difference but you have to watch for its return from surround areas. For this weed, I don’t think there is a fool proof method to stopping it outside of moving and even that is risky since it is a pervasive weed that is found all over town!


Hopefully these methods will help you in your quest to rid your yards of these pesky invaders!

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