Controlling weeds in the landscape – Quad City Times

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Controlling weeds in the landscape

A volunteer weeds a vegetable bed.

Daily Press/TNS, File

AARON J STEIL
Iowa State University Extension
Every garden has weeds and dealing with these unwanted plants is an ongoing task in any landscape. Control of weeds is important. Weeds are strong competitors for available water, nutrients and sunlight. Reduced air circulation created by tall weeds encourages the development and spread of foliage diseases and a weedy garden often has more insect problems. While a completely weed-free garden is not attainable, reducing weeds is beneficial. How do I control weeds in my garden beds?Keeping ahead of weeds and controlling them when they are small is essential for good weed management. This requires persistence throughout the entire growing season to remove weeds as they emerge. There are essentially two types of weeds in our gardens, annuals and perennials. 

Crabgrass

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Annual weeds grow rapidly, flower, set seed and die in a single season. New annual weeds, such as crabgrass, velvetleaf, purslane, knotweed, lambsquarter and foxtail, germinate from seeds each year. 

Pulling weeds, such as dandelions, is best accomplished after a soaking rain or deep watering

reddogs/stock.adobe.com

Perennial weeds die back to ground level in fall but send up new growth in spring. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, quackgrass, thistle, pokeweed and plantain, reproduce by seeds or may spread by creeping above or below ground stems or by spreading root systems. 

Pokeweed

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Cultivation, hand pulling, mulches and herbicides are the primary means to control weeds in the home garden.Cultivation, hand pullingCultivation and hand pulling effectively control most annual weeds. It is very important to destroy these weeds while they are small, before they produce thousands of seeds, guaranteeing a weed problem for many years in the future. Like annual weeds, perennial weeds are easy to control when in the seedling stage. Once they become established they are very difficult to control because of their perennial root system and rhizomes. Repeated cultivation of perennial weeds is necessary, being careful to not chop up or leave behind plant pieces that can root to become a new plant, multiplying the problem.When cultivating the garden, avoid deep tillage. The roots of many desirable plants grow near the soil surface. Deep cultivation will cut off some of these roots. Also, deep cultivation will bring deeply buried weed seeds to the soil surface where they can germinate. When hand pulling, work in the garden a day or two after a soaking rain or water the garden 24-48 hours before weeding to make pulling and digging easier.

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Use mulches Mulches control weeds by preventing the germination of weed seeds. Established weeds should be destroyed prior to the application of the mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, prevent crusting of the soil surface, keep foliage, fruits and vegetables clean and may reduce disease problems.Grass clippings, shredded leaves, coco hulls and weed-free straw are excellent mulches for vegetable gardens and annual flower beds. Apply several inches of these materials in early June after the soil has warmed sufficiently. Plant growth may be slowed if these materials are applied when soil temperatures are still cool in early spring. Grass clippings, shredded leaves and similar materials break down rather quickly and can be tilled into the soil in the fall.Wood chips and shredded bark are excellent mulches for perennial beds and areas around trees and shrubs. Apply 2 to 4 inches of material around landscape plantings. These materials decay slowly and should last several years. However, it will be necessary to apply additional material periodically to maintain the desired depth.How, when to use herbicidesIn certain situations, a gardener can use herbicides to supplement other weed control strategies. Several factors limit the usefulness of herbicides in the home garden. Most home gardens contain a variety of plants in a small area. This restricts herbicide use because it is unlikely that the herbicide will be labeled for all plants in the garden.Herbicides must be carefully applied as they have a high potential to harm both weeds and desirable plants. Always apply herbicides when winds are calm and temperatures are cool to prevent drift and damage to desirable plants. Protect garden plants with barriers like buckets or boxes to further reduce problems with drift. They can also be applied with a sponge and wiped onto the leaves of the weed to prevent collateral damage to nearby plants. Herbicides must be used according to label instructions on the package. Failure to follow directions may kill desirable plants or prevent other plants from being grown in the area.Organic optionsMechanical control of weeds through hand pulling and cultivation as well as the use of mulches to suppress weed growth are both effective organic options for weed management.Pouring boiling water on weeds can be used especially in situations where other plants are not nearby, such as in the cracks of sidewalks or driveways. Be careful to not splash or burn yourself with the boiling water and remember the boiling water will kill both weeds and desirable plants. A tea kettle is often a good way to more safely and precisely apply the boiling water directly to the weed. Use plenty of water and plan to retreat 7-10 days later as one application rarely kills the entire plant, especially deep-rooted weeds.Organic herbicides can also be effective and all of them act as non-selective herbicides, meaning they kill or damage any plant part they touch. Many organic herbicides use one or more of the following active ingredients: acetic acid, citric acid, clove oil, lemon grass oil, d-limonene and ammonium nonanoate, among others.Most organic herbicides work as contact herbicides, killing the leaves and stems, but not being translocated to other parts of the plants, such as roots. Often, multiple applications every two to three weeks are needed for complete control. Organic herbicides are more effective on younger, smaller weeds than larger more established ones and should be applied at a higher volume than most conventional herbicides, thoroughly soaking leaves to point of run off. Always follow label directions on all herbicides. Even organic herbicides can harm desirable plants or people when used inappropriately.Aaron J. Steil is a consumer horticulture specialist at Iowa State University Extension.

Photos: Bryan and Stephanie Schmid home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

The back yard deck of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The Schmid home was built circa 1857 for Dr. William Magill, a dentist. In the 1990s, it was designated as a city landmark because of its architectural style – “a cube Italianate with original and unusual porch details and high integrity.” Brick lintels above the windows are inset with decorative limestone keystones. The two shutters in the center of the second story are original. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The original front door is set back into the house and contains inset windows. The colored glass in the transom is new. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The front door opens to a staircase the curves up to the second floor. Cut into the wall is a “coffin corner,” a niche that got its name because it was a place where a coffin could be turned to get it up and down the steps. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Blue and white tiles and bookshelves surround the fireplace, topped by a large “S” for Schmid. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Daughter Marion’s room is decorated with pictures and sayings and on the bed is a cat quilt made by her grandmother, Judi Schmid. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The master bedroom spans the entire width of the front of the house. The doorway at far left opens to the small but serviceable master bath. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

A display of growlers and beer steins in the transom window speaks to Brian Schmid’s interest in beer and brewing. Some of the mugs are from Germany where he lived, worked and studied. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

A large table-and-chairs set that belonged to Stephanie Schmid’s great-grandparents provides space for lots of eating space in the dining room. That’s a good thing, because the Schmids enjoy having gatherings of family and friends. The table centerpiece, a birch log with candles, was used at the couple’s wedding reception at Watch Tower Lodge at Black Hawk State Historic Site.   

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Family room at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The living room, with its large sectional sofa, looks into the “fireplace room” through a large, arched doorway. Bryan Schmid said he thinks that, originally, these two rooms were parlors separated by a set of pocket doors that were subsequently removed, making a larger, more airy opening between the two. Note the blue color scheme of the walls and window treatments and the gleaming wood floors. The “fireplace room” doubles as the family room. 

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The bedroom of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid daughter Marion 2 at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The master bedroom at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The bedroom of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid daughter Marion 2 at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Transom window in the dinning room with collection of growlers and beer mugs at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Transom window in the dinning room with collection of growlers and beer mugs at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The bedroom of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid daughter Marion 2 at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The master bedroom at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Fire place with blue tiles and large "S" made by Stephanie's father at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Dinning room at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Dinning room at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Bryan and Stephanie Schmid and daughter Marion 2 at their home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Front foyer with curved staircase and wall at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Bryan and Stephanie Schmid and daughter Marion 2 at their home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Front foyer with curved staircase and wall at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Family room at the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The front of the home belonging to Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Front door entrance to the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Above the rear entrance of the home belonging to Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Above the front door entrance to the home of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Bryan and Stephanie Schmid and daughter Marion 2 at their home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The back yard deck of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Bryan and Stephanie Schmid and daughter Marion 2 at their home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The back yard deck of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The back yard deck of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

Bryan, Stephanie and Marion Schmid gather for a family portrait at the back of their home in Rock Island’s Broadway Historic District. The large, two-tier deck in the behind them was one of the home’s selling points, as it offers additional outdoor living and recreational space. Note that its lattice work pillars mimic the historic pillars on the front of the house. The back door, topped by a colored glass transom, opens to a very handy mudroom/laundry room/drop zone. 

Gary Krambeck

Bryan and Stephanie Schmid and daughter Marion 2 at their home at 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

The back yard deck of Bryan and Stephanie Schmid at their home 715 20th Street in Rock Island.

GARY L. KRAMBECK

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