Have you noticed that weeds flourish in July heat? You haven’t noticed? Well take a look outside. Many of your desirable plants are showing stress from the summer heat. Leaves are shriveling, the grass is going dormant and turning brown, and flowers are drooping (unless you’ve kept everything watered). Yet the weeds look green and healthy.
Weeds may be the greenest thing in your lawn. And they are very healthy in your flower beds and vegetable garden as well. The first challenge is to define a weed. Weeds have been described as plants that grow in places you didn’t plant them and don’t want them.
Plants coveted as beautiful or delicious by some people are scorned by others as weeds. Consider the hated dandelion. While most of us labor to eradicate them, others harvest them to make wine or use as salad greens. Pulling out those tall Queen Anne’s lace with their big, doily like blooms is stress relief for most of us but florists actually buy Queen Anne’s lace to use in floral arrangements.
Getting rid of weeds as soon as you see them can reduce the number of seeds they drop, thus potentially reducing the number of weeds that will replace those you’ve just eliminated. There are only two ways to control weeds – pull them out or apply an herbicide. In summer, pulling out is the safer method. You’ll avoid collateral damage to your desirable plants.
The best time to pull weeds is right after a rain while the soil’s still damp. If it hasn’t rained lately and rain isn’t in the forecast, you can water the area around the weeds. Let the water soak in for a few minutes, then tug at the weed. Chances are it’ll be reluctant to come out without a fight. Insert a weed extracting tool or a sharp trowel into the soil at an angle to the root. Use the tool to cut the root at as deep a point as the tool can reach. At that point, you’ve won the battle. Just pull the weed out and go on to the next one.
If you decide to use an herbicide, be careful. If you choose a non- selective product, any overspray that gets on nearby plants will kill them as well. Use a selective product labeled just for the target weeds. Even though the product is selective, be careful to avoid overspray; it can still damage surrounding plants.
Protect yourself by wearing personal protective equipment to shield you from the sun and from any chemical that you’re using. That includes gloves, long sleeve shirt, long pants, eye protection, and a wide brimmed hat.
Weeds are the bane of most people but there actually are people who enjoy and find relaxation pulling weeds. Try it. You may find you’ll be one of them, especially during the summer if you aren’t finding relaxation mowing the lawn.