10 Most Common Garden Weeds and How to Control Them

After starting a garden, it does not take long before realizing the presence of some uninvited guests. These unwanted guests compete for growth requirements with your plants. In some cases, they can even lead to the death of your crops. We are talking about weeds of course. Together with pests and diseases, they can be quite a nightmare to any gardener. In this article, we round up the 10 most common garden weeds to look out for. We also include some handy tips on tackling these weeds. Take a look!

1. Dandelion

Dandelions are quite a nightmare to any gardener. While they look really beautiful and are edible when young, they compete with nutrients with your plants and can stunt their growth. These weeds also spread quite fast and can cover an entire garden in a few weeks. It is also important to remember that dandelions indicate that the soil is low in nutrients and moisture. Another challenge with dandelions is their deep taproot system. Removing this weed from your garden therefore requires a multiple approach.  Best methods include hand removal, hoeing, mulching, raising the pH of the soil, correct application of fertilizer and spraying with pre-emergence herbicides.

2. Prickly Lettuce

This weed is not related in any way with edible lettuces. In fact it contains a harmful opioid-like substance. It is also known as wild lettuce, milk thistle, or wild opium. It is important to remember that the weed thrives in soil with a lot of nutrients.  In addition, the weed prefers dry conditions though it can grow in moist areas.  Moreover, just like dandelion, prickly lettuce produce lots of wind dispersed seeds. Use of herbicides and hand pulling can help you get rid of prickly lettuce from your garden. 

3. Garlic Mustard

This is an invasive weed that grows in different conditions including sunny or shaded, and dry or wet soil. The roots of garlic mustard produce a chemical substance that inhibits the growth of other plants. It can therefore colonize your garden rather quickly. The best ways to get rid of garlic mustard from your garden is by pulling up the stems and the roots. It is also important to monitor the garden regularly so that you can remove the weed before it produces seeds. Herbicides can also be used. Moreover, after removing the weeds, mulch the area to avoid re-infestation.

4. Wild Violet

Wild violets are another example of the most common garden weeds you can encounter. They are extremely prolific weeds that spread quite fast in a garden through seeds and underground stems. They can therefore reproduce even when they are not flowering. In addition, these weeds thrive in shady and moist areas while the mature ones can withstand dry conditions. Hand-weeding and use of herbicides can check the establishment and spread of wild violets in your garden.

5. Crabgrass

The weed grows from seeds and from root rhizomes. It is a very terrible weed since it can take all the nutrients in the soil eventually leading to the death of your crops. Moreover, it can cause allergies. The weed also thrives in dry conditions and failure to water your garden as required encourages growth. The best way to remove crabgrass is by hand pulling or hoeing before it begins to seed. This is because the seeds of this weed remain viable for up to three years in the soil. Mulching is also an effective control measure against crabgrass.

6. Bull Thistle

Bull Thistle is a very resilient weed that can grow in any garden. The presence of this weed suffocates other plants and inhibits their growth. It is therefore important to get rid of the weeds immediately you notice them. The best way to remove bull thistle is via hand pulling. Ensure you uproot the entire plant to avoid regrowth. You can also use weevils as a biological control agent against bull thistle. 

7. Bindweed

Bindweed is another very common garden weed. It is a fast spreading weed that is also quite difficult to control. It can spread from seeds, from the rhizomes or the roots. In addition, the weed can withstand both cold as well as warm conditions. The best way to control bindweed is hand pulling immediately after germination. This prevents establishment of this weed. Mulching is also an effective way to control the spread of bindweed in your garden. Herbicides that kill the roots can help as well.

8. Purslane

The weed reproduces by seeds as well as stem fragments. It also prefers fertile moist soil and warm weather. It is therefore an early summer weed. Because it can reproduce by seeds and through stem fragments, eradicating can be quite a challenge. The best way to manage this weed is through hand weeding before it begins to produce seeds. Use of organic mulches can also help manage purslane. Moreover, this is one of the edible garden weeds you can add to your salad.

9. Canadian Thistle

This is a creeping and aggressive weed that reproduces through seeds as well as rootstocks. It is also quite difficult to control because the seeds can remain viable for over four years in the soil. Moreover, its roots go deep into the ground and are quite extensive. The best way to manage Canadian thistle is through hoeing or hand pulling before it becomes firmly rooted. Herbicides can also help check the spread and establishment of these weeds.

10. Velvetleaf

Velvetleaf weeds prefer fertile and sunny areas in the garden. It is an invasive weed that competes with your plants for nutrients hence can inhibit normal growth. In addition, one plant produces a lot of seeds that can remain viable for over 50 years. Therefore, it is important to get rid of these weeds before they begin to produce seeds. The best way to do this is by hand pulling, hoeing or using herbicides.

These are the 10 most common garden weeds you will confront from time to time. We have also included suggestions on how to control them to help keep your garden weed free.

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