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Winter Weeding

The term winter weeding might appear, at first blush, to be an oxymoron. Why would one have to weed in the winter? Because weeds are adventitious plants. They take advantage of any opportunity.

Weeds, particularly dandelions, begin growing long before grass or desirable flowers. Before dying off last fall, weeds dropped seeds, which lay dormant all winter. When the temperatures begin to rise and the days start getting longer, these factors will trigger weed seeds to germinate.

Weeds will take advantage of the grass and other plants’ extended dormant period to hog the light and water. Their roots will binge out on available nutrients, enabling them to spread. They’ll spread across the ground, overshadowing the still dormant plants until they take over the lawn or planting bed.

The most basic, and thorough, way to rid your landscape of weeds is to pull them out by the roots. It’s also the most labor intensive. Take a garden stool or five-gallon bucket to sit on and a weed digger or trowel out to confront the weeds. Plunge the weed digger or trowel into the root zone as deeply as you can. Your goal is to get the tool beneath the root and pull the entire root system out. Dandelion roots grow deep, so dig at an angle. This will enable you to cut the root as necessary.

Applying a weed killer is less labor intensive than pulling weeds. However, you have to deal with getting rid of the dead weeds by pulling them. If you decide on weed killer, pick a broadleaf weed killer formulated with both a preemergent and post emergent compounds. There will be more weeds from last fall lurking in the soil just waiting to take the place of those you’re getting rid of. The preemergent will reduce to number of seeds that germinate.

Be careful and seek the assistance of a knowledgeable person at the garden center when buying weed killer. Know where you’re going to apply it. Some products can be applied to the lawn and kill only broadleaf weeds without harming the grass. Others will kill anything green. You have to be careful to choose the right product when you declare war on weeds in your flower beds and around trees and shrubs. You’re apt to have expensive collateral damage.

The safest, most thorough weeding method for flower beds or around trees and shrubs is hand pulling. You may see some people using their string trimmer on those weeds but this is only a temporary fix that you’ll have to repeat next week.

One way to reduce the number of weeds in your flower beds is to install the plants really close to each other and then mulch well. This will discourage the weeds by giving them less space to grow and requires them to grow through several inches of mulch. Remember, weeds are adventitious plants. They want to grow where it’s easy.

You don’t have to worry about weeds when you’re on a lawn program with us. We apply the proper material at just the right time.

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