Gardening: Get to the root of the problem with weeds

According to the Oxford Dictionary a weed is” A wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants” Gardeners remove weeds by pulling, digging and spraying.

Seeds move from place to place with the wind, catching on animal’s, humans clothing, vehicle tires or by entering an animal’s or birds digestive tract as food and leaving as part of the feces. Unlike other modes of transportation, a trip through a digestive tract often removes the protective layer that keeps a seed dormant resulting in quick germination.

Gardens that are frequented by wild critters including birds often find new plants growing in flowerbeds, under trees and around feeders.

Regardless as to how the new plant arrives, the gardener’s first task is to identify the plant. Once identified learn the plants growing habits. How large will it grow? How fast will it spread? Should it be kept of pulled?

Once established will the plant become aggressive and take over the area. Plants like Solomon’s Seal, Fire Weed and wild mint can quickly take over a flowerbed. If it has been a struggle to keep this area planted and looking good this could be a blessing. In a well-manicured areas, weedy plants quickly become a problem.

Weeds, unwanted plants, should be removed as soon as possible. Plants left to their own devices, spread and reproduce. When weeds are removed and disposed of before they go to seed it, reduces the number of weeds to be removed later. Seeds can and do remain dormant in the soil for decades.

Removing weeds before they have a chance to establish roots is beneficial especially in plant varieties that spread by underground rhizomes. An aggressive plant spreading by rhizomes can easily send shoots outwards covering a 3 feet (.9 m) diameter within a season.

Aggressive plants do have a place in the garden. They can be controlled by removing shoots or by not placing them in ideal growing conditions. A heavy soil will slow spreading roots. Likewise, a soil with few nutrients will not nourish the plant causing slow growth. The less moisture a plant receives the slower it goes. Too much or lack of sunlight can also slow a plants growth

Seeds that have been deposited by animals often germinate in impractical locations. Do some research about the plants cultural requirements, sunlight, moisture, soil, then move the plant to a suitable location. Taking time to learn about the plants increases its chances of survival.

When removing unwanted plants take time to remove as much of the root as possible. Often a small piece of root is all that is needed for the plant to regenerate. An active compost will turn most parts of a herbaceous plant into compost. The exception are the seeds. They are often still viable in the compost. Bagging weed seeds and placing them in the garbage is a good solution.

Different weeds will respond to different sprays. Read and follow the instructions on each product. Using more product does not necessarily mean there will be a better kill. Some pesticide are dormant on contact with the soil while others have a longer residual life. Chemicals with a residual life can inhibit plant growth for more than a season.

Each gardener will have their own definition of what is a weed and their own method of controlling unwanted plants.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at you_garden@hotmail.com.

Just Posted

WATCH: Rappelling down Red Deer’s Stantec Building a thrilling, scary experience

Advocate reporter chronicles his trip down the 13-storey buildling

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

HMCS St. John’s to return to Halifax after six-month deployment overseas

HALIFAX — The countdown is on for the homecoming of a Halifax-class… Continue reading

Trump says lawyer taping him may be ‘illegal’

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his onetime… Continue reading

Spieth part of 3-way tie for British lead as Woods lurks

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead in… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month