Do you have a strategy for dealing with weeds? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one!
Life can get quite busy at this time of year, and garden maintenance (including managing weeds) can quickly slip to the bottom of our to-do lists. Whilst you may think that weeds shouldn’t be a problem during winter, this isn’t the case if we experience bouts of mild weather. In fact, weeds can take hold quickly when our heads are turned, and this is still a problem you may find yourself faced within the colder months.
Weed management needn’t be time-consuming, but it’s still wise to check your beds, border, pots, and pathways for a resurgence of weeds. These garden interlopers are resilient, so don’t be fooled by their apparent dormancy over the hot, dry summer. Given the opportunity, they will spring back up, and if you don’t catch them early they will spread fast.
One easily managed weed is Bittercress. This annual can be hoed out or you can pull it up by hand to remove it. More difficult to remove weeds include Dandelions, docks or other perennials with long roots. These cannot just be pulled out as any parts left behind will grow back. To most effectively remove this cut around the root with a trowel and lift the plant out whole.
Prevention is much better than cure in the case of these difficult to remove weeds. If you get a whiff of them in your garden then remove them swiftly and be careful to not let the flower or set seed, or you will find yourself entering a long and arduous battle!
During this time of year, some of our gardens are simply bare-bones, which is great for being able to put some legwork into preparing the soil. Now is a good time to dig over established beds and prepare for new ones. Cold weather, especially frost, will help to break down heavy clumps of soil into a texture that is easy to work with. If you have sandy or clay soil, then adding a dash of well-rotted organic matter can be of great benefit to it.
Another benefit of getting some weeding done over winter is that many weeds that appear this time of year are small, and their roots do not extend as far yet. Catching them early and pulling them out should be relatively easy and you will be avoiding a big job in the spring when their roots have really taken hold and they are much more difficult to get rid of!
Other bothersome weeds to look out for over the winter period are chickweed, shepherd’s purse, and groundsel, as these can germinate in even the coldest winters, particularly if we enjoy a stint of mild weather. Your hoe should be your best friend for slicing these away when they are tiny and just getting established. These can also be added the compost bin provided there is no seed. Be sure not to add weeds like couch grass, ground elder, or dock to your compost bin as they can often survive the process of composting and find their way back into your garden next year.
Don’t get complacent about weeds over the colder months. Be proactive now and you will be able to enjoy your garden with less work to do come springtime. Draw up your weed management schedule today and reap the rewards in the new year!