Weeds are the bane of every gardener’s existence, and excluding the handful of people who actually find weeding cathartic, most of us would prefer to eradicate them forever. It’s important to know there are different control methods for different weeds as they all have different growth patterns, food storage and even root systems so it’s better to approach them individually and get rid of them the first time.
Any soil left exposed, without mulch, is a breeding ground for weeds. Many seeds are dispersed by wind or birds/animals, so it is best to either plant out a bed fully, or mulch any areas of bare earth. It is also important to get rid of weeds before they have a chance to flower and set seed which could mean hundreds of weed seedlings germinating in the garden.
This is also known as white or dutch clover and can be found mainly in lawns and be identified by its white pom-pom shaped flowers. It can sprout roots from each node and survives through drought. Hand removal is the best method, but if there is a larger area, especially in a lawn, feed the lawn with a nitrogen rich fertiliser (as having clover can indicate a lawn lacking in it). Sulphate of iron, applied at 300g every 8m 2 in a watering can, lowers the ph of the soil, which also creates a difficult environment for clover to flourish in. The chemical alternative is to use a selective herbicide which will target broadleaf weeds (eg Bin –Die) Buffalo lawns can also be affected by these, read instructions on packaging before use.
This lime green weed gets to about 30cm and its stem is full of a milky sap. As this comes into flower in spring, this needs to be removed as soon as possible as it bears many seeds on a mature plant and can easily become quite invasive. The stems of petty spurge are quite weak in structure and will easily break off at the crown, which means that care must be taken not to just break the plant in order to remove it, but to ensure the plant is removed below the crown and into the roots. You can also use Glyphosate (round-up) and open areas can also be used.
Like real onions, this hard to eliminate weed, has a storage bulb below the ground and forms small bulblets next to it so removing the foliage alone is not sufficient; the plant will just form new plants off to the side. The best way to keep this under control is by manual removal; very time consuming but necessary. Remove all bulblets and take extra soil around the plant if needed. Hand painting with glyphosate may be necessary.
This weed grows all year round. It has red roots and stems and can reach up to 1m high. It causes hay-fever, asthma and rashes, and the stems and leaves are sticky. They grow in cracks in cement walls and along footpaths and when hand removing these, take out all of roots as this may re shoot. . A knife will help pry roots from cracks or you can simply pour boiling water over most weeds with tap roots to kill them. One square meter of this plant can produce over 250,000 seeds so bin it instead of composting.
• Be mindful of chemical spray-drift on windy days, as surrounding plants may be affected.
• Mulching the garden helps prevent weeds from germinating.
• Make sure weeds are dead before you add them to your compost.