Weeds

With gardening tasks, you need to take the “rough with smooth”. Weeds will always be there and someone needs to remove them. A back breaking, soul destroying job which leaves you feeling crippled. However, it’s necessary. It’s worth bearing in mind, you’ll never eliminate them although to leave them, you are inviting thousands more.

The treatment of weeds is an undecided one. You can manually remove or spray with selective weedkiller. It needs to be selective, not contact, it will differentiate from certain plants – chances of killing something significantly reduced. Contact will kill whatever it hits. Each year products get discontinued since most chemics, because of their purpose, have rather nasty things in them.

Horsetail is particularly difficult due to its structure. A prehistoric plant, it has adapted well to survive. It has non-penetrable membrane – a waxy coating – before treating it needs to be cracked or crushed to absorb whatever is applied. The stems are split in segments so if a small piece is left, the weed just re-establishes itself. It usually afflicts narrow cracks, broken paving and undisturbed land.

Self heal is a perennial although it seeds in lawns. It is a herb offering healing properties, it attracts beneficial insects too. It thrives in damp, humus rich soil that’s undisturbed. It’s not a weed until it pops up in the wrong place!

Willowherb has an attractive purple flower. Its growth is so prolific and its ability to survive anywhere, any condition makes it problematic. It seeds before it’s flowered so difficult to gauge when / where its dispersed. The weed pulls out very easily, it’s just the sheer volume that’s produced.

Chickweed prefers damp conditions with shade. It’s often found hidden under other foliage. It produces 1,000 seeds and spot weeding is just not practical. A light hoe will disturb the cycle. Chickweed is hardy, so in mild winters, the seed will not die off and lie dormant until spring.

Thistles, however difficult to manage are beneficial to butterfies / bees due to high nectar count, and also have medicinal qualities. The thistles have evolved as a defence mechanism from being eaten, improving its survival rate. It has to be regarded as a weed since it’s so invasive. It should be pulled out before it flowers. The plant is resilient in adverse conditions, by no means delicate as the flower suggests.

Broadleaf weeds generally have a tap root which makes them more difficult to eradicate. They can have fiborous roots but usually these are easy to control. These would include Dandlions, Clover, Daisies, Violets, Brambles too. By definition, a weed is a plant that shouldn’t be there. It is interesting to learn that Clover is growing in popularity as a lawn. It does benefit the soil, adding nutrients. Its flowers provide a food source for beneficial insects. It’s tougher and more drought tolerant than grass. Chamomile too, although other invading weeds will suppress its development. It does provide a scented carpet when crushed though. It does need a full sun aspect and the soil must be free draining.

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I'm Craft Gardener with several years experience. Due to the massive impact the internet has had on advice, forums and consultancy services - it seems knowledge and experience is everchanging and we should therefore share techniques and offer others alternative routes in pests, diseases and weed treatments. The very smallest alterations in aspect, soil conditioning and pruning can determine a plants vigour, health and lifespan hugely. My blogs and online assistance should motivate and interest even the most amateur of green fingered people. As my ex partner used to say "it's green isn't it"?