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Don’t Wish Away the Weeds

Recent rains have encouraged an explosion of “wild plants.” Before you banish them, know that they have many benefits for wildlife and are lovely all on their own.

A little rain and warm weather are all it takes to make your landscape lush and green. Although most of what we see are our desired perennials, shrubs, and trees, most of the lushness is made up of weeds.

But let’s not be so quick to judge. After all, weeds are green, native and an important part of a diverse, stable ecosystem. And they’re certainly resilient. In fact, a few of our experts have written about the benefits of weeds. Don’t laugh, there are some.

We’ve discussed at length whether “To Weed or Not To Weed” and even have a helpful video on the subject. We’ve introduced common weeds that are blooming now and how they’re important to pollinators. And I’ve praised horse herb for its superhero status and how it’s an ideal alternative to turf grass.

But if you still insist on eliminating these native resilient plants, here are a few tips and tricks to try.

  • While the soil is moist, pull firmly and consistently on the weed to remove as much of the root as possible. Tug too quickly and you’ll break the root, and the weed will regrow.
  • Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the weeds to smother them and make it easier to pull them out.
  • Try this simple recipe for an organic, effective way to kill weeds. This is a non-selective herbicide so protect non-target plants with cardboard or plastic.
  • The most effective and chemical-free way to eliminate weeds is to mow repeatedly and often. Weeds cannot withstand repeated attacks from a sharp mower. Remember to remove any seed heads.

Regardless of which method you choose, have patience and keep after it. Persistence does pay off.

 

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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