Weeds are one of the biggest issues that gardeners and lawn care providers have to deal with in Florida on a nearly daily basis. Most of them are unattractive, and therefore make your garden unattractive as well. Weeds also provide cover for disease and insects, and they soak up important nutrients and sunlight from your garden depriving your sod of what it needs. All in all, weeds are pesky and unusually hard to get rid of, but it is possible to minimize their takeover and keep them at bay.
There are two types of weeds: perennial and annual.
Dandelions, blackberry, and milkweed are three examples of perennial weeds. They all sprout flowers and are extremely hard to get rid of because they are grown by both seed and by root. Pulling them out works at first, but if any portion of the root is left in the ground, they will grow back almost immediately. Sometimes, using an herbicide is the only way to get rid of these types of weeds.
These are a little bit easier to get rid of and keep away than perennial weeds. They are grown from seeds that have already sprouted from your garden, or they have been brought by a bird or another animal. Chickweed, crabgrass, and knotweed are three examples of annual weeds. They are named annual due to the fact that they grow at certain times of the year.
Cool-season weeds will sprout at any time during the time from fall to spring. Warm-weather weeds can start growing in the spring. No matter which type it is, the only way to get rid of them is to catch them before they start growing and uproot them whenever you're doing yardwork.
Getting Rid of Them
Now that you understand that there are different types of weeds, you're wondering how to get rid of the buggers! There are a few different ways to get rid of weeds, and their usages depend on the age of the weed. If the weed is fairly young and hasn't sprouted seeds, then they are easier to get rid of than weeds that have matured and grown seeds.
Cultural weeding involves breaking up the soil surface to make weeds easier to remove. This works well when the weeds are young and smaller, as well as when the soil is moist. For smaller gardens, this can be done with a small trowel, but for bigger gardens and yards, a tool such as a cultivator. For larger weeds, cultivation involves using a shovel and removing the whole weed from the root. In order to make it less likely for the weed to grow back, the root needs to be removed completely. Perennial weeds need to be disposed of in the trash; if they are cut up by a till or cultivator, they can be spread across your lawn, creating more weeds.
This isn't as much as a plan to get rid of them as it is a preventative plan. Mulch prevents weeds by blocking their access to the sun if they are growing at soil level. If there is no light, then the seeds will not germinate and will instead die eventually. Mulch also benefits the plants that you're actually trying to grow; it conserves soil moisture and keeps soil at an even temperature.
In addition to organic mulch, you can also purchase weed blocker tarp or a black plastic film. They both work similarly to mulch and are referred to as synthetic mulches. The difference between these two is that the weed blocker lets in air and water for plants, while the plastic film does not. They both block all light so that weeds cannot grow, but the plastic can prevent even perennials from growing by killing off all sources of growth material.
If pulling weeds and tilling your soil just isn't cutting it for you or your garden, then you might need to bring in some reinforcements and purchase an herbicide. There are several different herbicides available, even organic ones. The type of herbicide that you're going to get will also depend on if you're trying to get rid of perennial or annual weeds.