In early autumn — before the leaves begin to fall — is a great time to fight weeds. That’s why Seasonal Wisdom is pleased to present these tips from Robin Haglund, an award-winning landscape designer and garden coach in Seattle, who owns Garden Mentors. This well-known expert has great tips for controlling weeds now — so you can face fewer headaches down the road. Photo copyright Seasonal Wisdom.
Update: A winner has been selected for the random drawing of a Fiskars® UpRoot® Weed and Root Remover. Thanks to all that entered, and check your emails (and spam folders).
Purple oxalis photo, copyright Robin Haglund.
GUEST POST: Seasonal Weeding Tips from Robin Haglund
Doing a bit of weeding in early autumn, before the leaves begin to fall, can mean fewer weeds and perhaps less plant disease in your garden’s future. No, it won’t eliminate all weeds, but you may find they’re relatively easy to cull in fall.
By the end of summer, many warm season weeds like nipplewort, milkweed, dockweed, fireweed, thistle and oxalis have spread and already gone to seed. Some may be sporting coats of powdery mildew whose spores will rest in the soil over winter, patiently waiting to infect future crops. Even if you have been vigilant about pulling all season, odds are a few have escaped notice. Eradicating them now — before autumnal leaf drop buries them in layers of luscious duff – makes for easy work and helps ensure you actually find them all before they hunker down and attempt to live until next spring.
Shotweed, photo copyright Robin Haglund.
As the days become crisp and the rains return, cool season weeds like shotweed (aka pop-in-your-eye weed or cress weed) will be re-emerging from seed. And, they too, should be eradicated as you put your garden to bed for winter.
Try these tools and tips to make your weeding chores easier on your body and more effective too!
Tools: Be sure to enter to win a Fiskars® UpRoot® Weed and Root Remover, which is one of Seasonal Wisdom’s favorite weeding tools. See below for details.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite weeding tools is the Big Grip Garden Knife. from Fiskars®. Since you’ll be working at ground level – likely on your knees – consider strapping on a pair of kneepads to avoid aches and pains along the way and at the end of the day.
Duckweed, photo courtesy Robin Haglund
- Has your weed already gone to seed? If the weed has seeds, grasp the top of the plant and cover the seeds in your fist. Snap off the seed head and insert that in your yard waste bin (not your compost). Removing seeds first and doing it carefully helps reduce how many seeds get dispersed as you pull your weeds.
- Minimize soil disturbance: Every time you churn up a bit of soil, you’re likely exposing more seeds to sunlight where they will germinate. Less disturbance means less seeds will grow into more weeds.
- What kind of root does your weed have? Always resist the urge to rip and tear the top off a weed; this will just encourage the plant to grow back.
- Taproots: If you’re pulling dockweed, dandelion or other plants with carrot-like taproots, be sure to slide your tool down the shaft of the root and carefully loosen it before pulling. Breaking a taproot may encourage more weeds rather than less.
- Shallow, spidery roots: Weeds like shotweed and nipplewort have shallow roots. A quick tip of your tool will lift these out easily.
- Travelling roots: Oxalis weeds are often mistaken for clover or shamrocks. Like clover and the much-hated field bindweed, its roots will travel down and outward. To remove it, loosen the soil and follow the roots through the soil. Remove everything.
- Does your weed have nasty self-protection mechanisms?
- Poky, spiny tops: Blackberry and thistle have nasty, painful spines. If the plants are young, the soil is moist and loose, and your hands are well gloved, you may be able to pull these weeds by grasping the plant at the base (where it enters the soil) and working it out using your tool. If not, you may need to cut off the top and then shovel out the roots with care.
- Burning, toxic saps & dangerous toxins: Euphorbias contain a milky sap that can produce dangerous chemical burns. Some Euphorbia are desirable; others are weeds. All have the potential to burn you. Glove up, avoid the sap, wash it off carefully if it touches your skin, get medical help immediately if you feel ill or develop burns or rashes after working with Euphorbia – or anything else in the garden. Giant Hogweed is so dangerous it may leave the unsuspecting blinded; consult a pro before touching this one. Got Hemlock? Poison Hemlock can kill you dead. Although it’s important to eradicate these dangerous weeds, check with a pro or your extension office before touching them.
- Water your weed patch: Yep. Sometimes watering your weedy area the night before you plan to pull is a good idea. Moistening rock-hard, end-of-summer clay soils, can make pulling easier and more successful. If your soil is dry and sandy, skip the watering before weeding and just sift through the dusty stuff to expose the roots.
- Mulch much! Once you’ve cleared out your weedy patches, cover the exposed soil with 2 to 3” of high quality mulch material like arborist chips or compost. Not only will the mulch encourage soil microbia to keep your ground healthy and nutrient-rich, but also it will smother weed seeds, hold moisture for thirsty plants and protect roots from the cold months ahead.
Win a Weeder! Here’s your chance to enter this Fall Weeds Giveaway to win a Fiskars® UpRoot® Weed and Root Remover (valued at $37.99). Stop kneeling, straining or bending over with this easy-to-operate weeder, which allows you to remove weeds easily without harsh and toxic herbicides.
The weeder has four serrated, stainless-steel claws that grab weeds by the root for clean removal, plus an easy-eject mechanism on the handle that clears the head between uses. The durable aluminum handle is extra-long to help you reach every weed without straining or hurting your back.
Enter to Win! We’d be delighted if you would follow Seasonal Wisdom, Garden Mentors and Fiskars on Facebook, but this is NOT a criteria to win:
How to Enter: It’s easy to enter this UpRoot Weed and Root Remover (valued at $37.99), but hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Update: This giveaway is now over, and a winner selected.
To enter, simply leave a comment below with some of your favorite ways to control weeds in the garden.
The winner will be chosen at random by Sept. 30, 2012 and contacted within 24 hours. If the proposed winner forfeits or does not claim the prize by Oct. 4, the prize will be re-awarded based on the sponsor’s sole discretion. All prizes will be awarded. Please provide your name and email to enter this contest, so we can contact you promptly if you win. The winner agrees to allow his/her first name to be mentioned in conjunction with this giveaway. Please check spam folders so you can receive notice if you’ve won this drawing.
The number of eligible entries will determine the odds of winning. This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only, who are over the age of 18 years old. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO WIN. This sweepstakes is VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. By entering this giveaway, you are agreeing to these conditions.
Robin Haglund is Founder and President of the garden coaching firm Garden Mentors®. Known nationally as The Garden Mentor, she is an award-winning designer, engaging speaker, and knowledgeable gardener, who uses much of her garden for crops and plants to educate others. Robin is a popular garden speaker, bringing her horticultural insights to college audiences, professional industry associations, garden clubs and garden shows, such as Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Robin’s garden coaching, design insights, tips for gardening with pets and experiences with urban beekeeping are featured in media including Organic Gardening Magazine, The New York Times, Sunset Magazine, The Seattle Times, Dog Park Wisdom, PBS’s Growing a Greener World and HGTV’s Landscaper’s Challenge. Find Robin on Facebook, Twitter and her website.
Disclosure: Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors inc and Teresa O’Connor of Seasonal Wisdom are paid garden writers for Fiskars Inc. The prize for this drawing was provided by Fiskars for no charge. Neither Robin nor Teresa, however, were paid to write or host this giveaway. We also were not paid for recommending these products.
Leave a comment before midnight Sept. 29 to enter to win! Tell us your favorite ways to control weeds in the garden. Good luck! Update: This giveaway is now over, and a winner selected.