Linda Tomlinson

Gardening: Here are some ways to deal with weeds

With the warm weather comes the inevitable unwanted plants or weeds. They fall from parent plants, arrive via animals, shoes, vehicles, or the wind. Some seeds can remain dormant in the soil for decades while others germinate immediately.

Annual weeds grow quickly and typically have a small root system making them easier to pull. Their life cycle starts as a seed or a piece of plant and ends once seed is produced. Annual weeds can usually be eliminated if they are removed before they go to seed. Note that a number of annual weeds overwinter as immature plants and are quick to grow in spring.

Perennial weeds are harder to eradicate. Unless removed soon after germination, they have a larger root system and often regrow from a small piece of root.

Being persistent and removing all green parts of the plants as it appears will eventually starve the root causing the plant to die. This can be accomplished through hand digging, mechanical cultivation or baking the soil for a growing season with a black plastic.

Chemical methods are available. Each chemical works slightly different and achieves different results. All herbicides, including organic ones, go through standard testing before they are registered under the Pest Controls Product Act and sold. Each herbicide comes with instructions and restrictions.

Knowing how the chemicals work helps the applicator apply the least amount of product to achieve the best results.

Mecoprop-p, 2,4-D and Dicamba work by accelerating the rate of a naturally occurring chemical in the plant resulting in rapid growth that quickly kills the plant. This is seen in the twisted elongated shape of a sprayed dandelion. To work the plant must be actively growing.

Glyphosates which are associated with the name Roundup, are nonselective which means there is a possibility of it killing any plant it touches. The herbicide works by destroying a plant enzyme that is needed in the production of food. Once the enzyme is destroyed the plant starves. Once again, the plant must be actively transporting nutrients throughout its system for the chemical to be effective.

Acetic Acid or horticultural vinegar is being sold under a few names including Round up Advanced. It can be purchased in concentrates from 5 to 30 per cent with the higher concentrations being the most effective. This chemical works by burning the top foliage off the plants which is effective in young annuals. Weeds with an established root system tend to regrow from the roots and need more than one application. Like all pesticides, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use proper precautions as high concentrations of acetic acid can damage anything it touches.

Products that contain Iron chelate are used on lawns to kill broadleaf weeds. It has been found to be effective on a number of broadleaf weeds including dandelions and clover but repeat treatments are often needed. Like acetic acid, it kills the portion of the plant that it touches but not the roots.

There are many different ways of dealing with weeds. Which method to use is up to each individual.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who has gardened in central Alberta for over 30 years. She can be reached at

Just Posted

The Sylvan Lake Gulls celebrate a sixth inning home run from Nolan Weger on Sunday during a game against the Edmonton Prospects. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Historic opening weekend for Sylvan Lake Gulls

It wasn’t perfect, but perhaps that was the beauty of it. Fans… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Fatal ATV rollover near Innisfail Saturday

A 77-year-old man from Red Deer County died Saturday after an ATV… Continue reading

Firefighters and emergency services workers helped celebrate Barry Young’s 85th birthday at Timberstone Mews on May 29. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters in central Alberta make birthdays special

A fire truck arriving outside your house is not normally good news.… Continue reading

A view of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is shown in this undated handout photo. More Canadians are expected to leave their passports at home this summer and hit the road in Canada as the weak loonie and low gas prices prompt a deeper exploration of their own country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Travel Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Report: Alberta losing residents to other parts of Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly winds down in Alberta, residents are continuing… Continue reading

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Germany's Robin Gosens, left, celebrates Germany's Mats Hummels after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the football arena stadium in Munich, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Matthias Hangst/Pool Photo via AP)
Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

MUNICH (AP) — Germany finally clicked into gear at the European Championship,… Continue reading

Fans cheer on their team during the pre-game warmup of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal with the Montreal Canadiens facing the Vegas Golden Knights, in Montreal, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
COVID-19 concerns give way to Habs Fever in Quebec as Montreal continues playoff run

MONTREAL — The sun hadn’t yet risen in Montreal on Friday morning… Continue reading

Coronavirus cases are on the rise from India to South Africa and Mexico, in a May 19, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
As Brazil tops 500,000 deaths, protests against president

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Anti-government protesters took to the streets in… Continue reading

A black bear cub forages for food along a salmon stream below a bear viewing spot for tourists in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau, Alaska.  (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Bandit responsible for vehicle break-ins is a black bear

THORNTON, N.H. (AP) — Surveillance video helped police get to the bottom… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Editor Rick Hutzell, center, gives a speech to his staff including Chase Cook, Nicki Catterlin, Rachael Pacella, Selene San Felice and Danielle Ohl at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper. Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis paper for more than three decades, authored a farewell column that was published on the paper's website Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Ulysses Muoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Editor of paper that endured newsroom shooting says goodbye

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won… Continue reading

Most Read