Florida gardening: Stop the thieves — weeds are water-stealing trespassers – TCPalm


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What is a weed? The definition I learned in school is the simple one, weeds are plants growing in the wrong place. A better description is a valueless plant growing on cultivated ground which competes with or injures or reduces the desired crop or planting. In the landscape, a weed is any plant growing where not wanted. Weeds are not simply undesirable; they can reduce or prevent the growth of the intended species. They can harbor insects and diseases and physically compete for resources such as space, nutrients and water. These are all good reasons to remove weeds from gardens and landscapes. The best control for any weed is to grow plants adapted to the location. Healthy, vigorously growing plants easily outcompete any invading weeds. If a plant is not growing well — such as turfgrass in shady areas — plant something else. However, if unwanted species still popup, here are a few management suggestions.  Get to know the weeds that frequently occur in the landscape and garden. Identification of the weedy plant and its type of growth is the key to control. As an example, sandspurs produce painful seeds in abundance every year; they are annuals. This means sandspurs grow from seed to seed in one growing season; the best control is to prevent plants from producing seed — regular mowing or cutting with a string-line trimmer should do the trick.  Other plants such as sedges, torpedo grass and dollarweed are perennial and require different control methods. Dollarweed requires maintenance modification. It is an aquatic plant, and its presence indicates a wet location. In the landscape, the water often comes from abundant, frequent irrigation. Dry the area out, and dollarweed goes away.  Effective weed control in landscape and veggie beds includes the application of mulch. I would mulch my grass if I could. Organic mulches even out the soil temperatures — cool in the summer, warm in the winter.  They suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Replenish the mulch twice a year to a depth of at least 4 to 6 inches for best weed suppression. Keep the mulch away from the trunks of trees and shrubs and the base of the house to prevent moisture and insect problems. Mulch is the cheapest, most effective way to control weeds in beds. Weeds are water stealers! When the weather is dry, it is essential to keep the weeds under control. Hand pulling is remarkably effective though it is sweaty, hard work. Try not to disturb the soil so that moisture isn’t lost from exposure to the air. If weeds grow again, remember: Weeds are one of the few things in life that provide a second chance; if the root survives, many weeds will grow again. Carol Cloud Bailey is a landscape counselor and horticulturist. Send questions to [email protected] or visit www.yard-doc.com for more information. 
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