Gardening Basics

How to Remedy Soil and Weed Problem III

In this section of the article, we will talk more about the weeds you may encounter. Weeds and soil problems go hand in hand, so you need to pay attention to both in order to improve your garden and make it into a more welcoming and fertile environment for your plants.

Common Weeds

Here is a list of some common weeds you may encounter with advice on how to get rid of them:

  • Dandelion. Dandelion likes areas low in calcium, but keep in mind: it has a long tap root, which help it aerate the soil and bring up minerals from the subsoil. It makes the young spring leaves full of minerals. This is one of the main reasons why dandelion is such a healthy edible herb. As a weed, it may pose a problem in the garden so you may wish to get rid of it. For an organic deterrent, simply use a fungi-rich compost or compost tea. Apply it to the plant to discourage its growth and get rid of it. The fungi will release a slime, which will dissolve the calcium in the soil, thus eliminating dandelion.
  • Crabgrass. This is a common weed in all areas of the US. It likes low-calcium soil, low levels of organic matter and dry areas. It can signal that your soil is dry and not fertile enough. It can spread quickly from the lawn area to the garden beds with your plants. To get rid of this weed, follow the same instructions recommended for dandelions.
  • Shepherd’s Purse. This weed thrives in sunny, rich, moist to dry and disturbed soil. However, it can grow in partially shaded, poor soil, so there is not a rule. Keep in mind that a single plant can produce a few thousands of seeds, and these seeds can remain viable for many years. In order to get rid of this weed, it’s vital to pull it up before it goes to seed. Use mulch wherever possible to discourage the growth. This plant stays dormant in the dark so mulch is a good way to prevent its growth.
  • Black Medic. This weed is a type of clover but it has a burr-like seed head. One plant will typically grow in all directions in a distance of two feet or more, though some plants grow in only one direction. This one is relatively easy to get rid of: simply pull it out to remove it. It should not appear again, but if it does, repeat until your garden is free from this weed.
  • Sorrel. This is another clover type of a plant, similar to Black Medic. Their nitrogen-fixing ability is important for soil fertility, but make no mistake: this plant is a weed that can easily take over your garden area. Use a good soaking sorrel to remove them.
  • Mullein. It can be left in your garden. It is good for herbal use. Or you can dig it up after a good soaking in the fall, before it goes to seed.
  • Stinging Nettle. This is an herbaceous shrub. It can be found all over the world, so it’s a common weed. It prefers nitrogen-rich soil. This plant can grow 4 feet in height. To get rid of it, you need to dig it out. However, pay attention: you need to wear heavy-duty gloves.
  • Lambsquarter or Pigweed. They are cousins to Amaranth. These plants have seed heads that can produce thousands of tiny seeds. Luckily, these plants have shallow roots, so it’s easy to pull them out or hoe them while they are small. It will effectively eliminate them from your garden. It’s best to be done in spring.
  • Prickly Sowthistle. This weed has a flower stalk about 12 to 15 inches in size. However, the flower head looks very similar to dandelion’s, so it’s easy to make a mistake. You can dig it out after a good soaking. It’s important to do this before it goes to seed or else you will have a lot of it in the garden. Keep in mind, one plant can generate around 70,000 seeds. You definitely don’t want that in your garden. Keep in mind that this is a perennial plant. If you don’t get rid of it you’ll see it again next spring.
  • Annual Bluegrass. It is known to pop up all over your garden and can easily set several generations of seed in one season. To get rid of them, flip them out of the ground with a 3-pronged hoe. It’s important to expose their roots to the sun. This will quickly turn them into a good organic matter for the compost pile.

  • Plantain or Buckhorn. This is a weed that thrives in moist, fertile ground. It has a very short root system, but can strongly hold its ground. It makes it very difficult to pull out if the soil is dry. In order to get rid of this weed, make sure to water the area before you use a weed digger to get them out. It’s best to do this before the flower stalk appears.
  • Spotted Spurge. This is a summer annual weed. It is known to grow out in many directions. It has a shallow tap root and it forms a dense mat of vegetation. Luckily, it’s easy to pull out so it should not be difficult to get rid of it from your garden.
  • Queen Anne’s Lace. This plant is a wild carrot. You can dig it out during its first year. This is preferred, since they don’t produce seed in their second year. However, you may think twice about getting rid of this plant. It can serve as a trap for insects that would otherwise attack your flowers and vegetables.
  • Chickweed. It is a very powerful weed: it only takes a few seeds to take over a garden bed! In order to prevent this from happening, make sure to pull them out in May or June. Also, make sure to add plenty of mulch to your bed in the fall. This should discourage this weed from growing during the next year.