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Let Your Garden Keep These 7 Weeds

Not too many people enjoy spending their time pulling up weeds, but left unchecked, weeds can quickly overtake the plants you actually want to keep around.

That being said, not all weeds will wreak havoc on your yard or garden. You can use many to diagnose issues with the soil that may be unhealthy for your plants. Some beneficial weeds can even help to repair those issues. If you don’t treat your yard or have pets, you might even have a few edible weeds hiding in plain sight.

Don’t be so quick to weed out the following…well, weeds.

1. Chickweed

Chickweed tends to pop up in fertile soil, which is best for gardening. However, this weed can signal really low calcium or phosphorous levels or an overabundance of potassium or sodium. Consider looking into fertilizer options that will balance these minerals.

You can eat chickweed leaves, stems and flowers raw or cooked. Chickweed also has medicinal properties, and you can use it to create a poultice for minor wounds.

2. Lamb’s-Quarter

Lamb’s-quarter often grows in soil that has been stripped of nutrients. It has a restorative effect and tends to spread rapidly in order to recondition the land. The shoots, leaves, and seeds of this plant are edible.

3. Clover

Keep clover in your garden if you’d rather the bunnies eat something other than the plants you’re trying to cultivate. If you’re not trying to feed the bunnies, you can eat it raw or cooked or dry it for tea. Clover fertilizes the soil by pulling nitrogen from the air and infusing it into the dirt, and it attracts earthworms, which are also great fertilizers.

4. Dandelions

Dandelions have deep-growing roots that loosen hard-packed dirt and pull nutrients into the top layer of soil, where plants with shorter root systems can access them. You can eat raw and cooked dandelion roots and blossoms. And who doesn’t love making wishes on dandelions?

5. Pennycress

It’s not recommended to grow fruits or veggies in soil that is oversaturated with metallic minerals such as nickel, lead, and arsenic, and extremely high levels of some of these minerals would ultimately kill most plants. However, pennycress fares well in metal-rich soil and can decrease the levels of metallic minerals over time.

6. Purslane

Left to its own devices, purslane will grow so quickly and so densely that it will carpet the ground and prevent sunlight from reaching any seedlings below it. However, purslane is edible and exceptionally nutritious. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it’s high in omega-3 acids, vitamins E and C, and several minerals.

7. Mugwort

Also known as common wormwood, mugwort is an invasive weed that is hard to eradicate and will grow just about anywhere. Landscapers aren’t fond of it, but it has several desirable properties:

  • It absorbs heavy metals.
  • It prevents erosion.
  • And it nourishes soil that is lacking nutrients.

It’s not easy to back off and let weeds invade your flower beds. If you can’t resist pulling them up:

  • Turn weeding into a fun activity with the kids.
  • Stop to wonder why they might have chosen to take up residence in that particular spot.

Call a local Best Pick landscaping company if you’re concerned about the health of your soil.

Why Use Fall Pre-Emergents?

The end of summer means the end of yard care, right? Wrong. Applying a fall pre-emergent treatment is one of the best steps you can take toward a healthy lawn. The gap between the harsh heat of summer and the cool temperatures of fall is a critical time to prepare your lawn for both winter and the following spring.

What are Fall Pre-Emergents?

Pre-emergent herbicides help prevent weeds from growing or sprouting when applied on the lawn prior to the target weed seeds germinating. Depending on where you live, fall pre-emergent applications should be done between August and November.

Winter can bring about certain weeds, also known as winter weeds, in your lawn. Chickweed, clover, poa annua (annual bluegrass), and filaree are all weeds that germinate in the winter and emerge in your lawn between late February and early March. You want to apply the pre emergent herbicide before the seed germinates and the weed grows. If you already have winter weeds in your lawn, you would use a post-emergent herbicide.

Pre-emergents come in both a liquid form, which you would apply with a sprayer, and a granular form, which you would apply with a granular spreader. Granules look like sand.

It is hard to kill weeds once they have germinated. By using a fall pre-emergent herbicide treatment, you can prevent weeds from germinating, saving you time and money later in the year and through the spring.

Pre-emergent herbicide applications are especially helpful if you know you have certain weeds that grow in your yard every spring. It helps to find out what type of weeds you have to determine the best fall pre emergent treatment. While you will still need to apply a pre-emergent in the spring, the fall weed control is helpful in case spring comes early and the weather warms before you are able to treat in the spring.

When to Apply Fall Pre-Emergent

The ideal time to apply a fall pre-emergent herbicide to your yard is between August and November when the soil temperature is below 70 degrees and dropping. This is true for both cold season and warm-season grasses. A soil thermometer will help determine when the soil is cool enough for your fall pre-emergent application.

If you live in a warm climate, apply before temperatures drop. Contact your local extension office for more detailed information on the local climate and when to apply your fall pre-emergent herbicide treatment. Timing for an effective fall pre-emergent application can depend on a variety of factors including the location of where you live, climate, and the type of weeds you are trying to control.

Be sure the temperature outside is below 85 degrees during application. If it is warmer than 85 degrees, the plants will not absorb as much of the herbicide, which could lead to decreased weed control. If you are wondering how late you can treat weeds in the fall, pre-emergent herbicides are only effective if applied before annual grass weeds germinate. While it's best to apply early, putting down a pre-emergent herbicide before temperatures drop can help control winter weeds and set your lawn up for success next spring.

You will also need to follow-up with a spring pre-emergent application around February or March, before the weather warms in the spring.

Which Pre-Emergent Treatment is Best for My Lawn?

There are plenty of pre-emergent herbicide options available, giving you a wide range to choose from. The best fall weed control for your lawn will depend on your turf type, equipment, and the plants you are combating.

First, you must determine what type of turf (grass) you have. Most pre-emergent herbicides are labeled for certain grasses and not others. A pre-emergent herbicide that will work on zoysia grass may destroy St. Augustine grass, and vice-versa. Once you know the type of lawn you have, you can then narrow down your pre-emergent choice. Be certain to read the label of any weed preventer you are considering using to determine if it is compatible with your grass type.

Next, you can narrow your selection further by knowing which weeds you need to target. If you have had certain winter weeds in your lawn in the past, you should choose a selective herbicide that is labeled for pre-emergent control.

Selective herbicides target specific weeds and come in both liquid and granular forms, and in both pre-emergent and post-emergent formulas. Read the label of the selective herbicide to determine if it will cover the weeds commonly found in your lawn if it is labeled as a pre-emergent, and what effect it will have on your lawn.

If you just moved into your home, have not identified which winter weeds your lawn has had previously, or need to target several weeds at once, a selective herbicide for pre-emergent control labeled for a broad spectrum of weeds is a smart choice. There are also non-selective pre-emergent herbicides that will prevent the growth of any vegetation where applied. Always read the label to ensure the product you're using is compatible with your grass.

Finally, you can narrow your selection even further by the mode of application. Liquid pre-emergent herbicides are applied with a sprayer and granular pre-emergents are applied with a spreader. Sprayers are also available in backpack form for easy application, while portable spreaders are helpful for hard-to-reach areas of your lawn. Both applications are equally effective, so the choice depends on which pre-emergent application will be compatible with your turf type, the equipment you may already own, and your comfort level.