Smith County Extension Agent
What is a weed?
Still others view a weed as a “plant whose virtue has yet to be discovered.”
Right now, winter annual weeds are actively growing.
It is not uncommon to drive around and see dandelions, chickweed, henbit, sow thistle and other winter weeds growing in home lawns. Plants need water, sunlight, soil, air and space to grow.
So what do weeds tell us?
Weeds present in pastures, fields, yards, etc. tell us that over time human management tied with drought and financial management decisions often lead to actions, which can build a weed environment.
Weeds are opportunistic, meaning that they will grow when the conditions and environment are suitable.
A soil test is important to determine nutrient levels and requirements of our soil. In many cases, weeds will not compete well or grow in competition with a healthy lawn or pasture.
Given the proper nutrition, a dense stand of grass in our lawn or pasture can out compete and keep a certain number of weeds under control.
Weeds rob water and nutrients from our desirable plants in our landscape or fields.
Weed identification is important to know how to manage the weed species. Weeds are grouped according to their life span.
When the right environmental conditions allow, these weed seeds germinate and start to grow. Annual, perennial or biennial weeds are what most weeds are classified.
Are the weeds herbaceous, grassy, woody or other?
A grassy weed has a jointed, hollow or round stem. A weed in the sedge family likely has three-sided or a triangular stem. A weed in the mint family likely has a square stem.
Take the stem of a weed you are trying to identify, roll it in your fingers and feel if it is round, triangular or square to help determine which you might have.
Flowers, leaves, roots, fruit, seeds and other distinguishing features can also be of importance in weed identification.
Density of the weed species also will determine what control measure to use. A light infestation of weeds may require hand pulling of the weed.
Heavy weed infestations can compete with our desirable plants shading them or robbing the desirable plants of nutrients. Mulches added to flower beds can help reduce numbers of weed species.
Mowing heights of grasses also plays an important role in weed suppression. Mowing the home lawn too low on a regular basis may lead to weeds filling in these bare or open areas. For many weed species, mowing may cut down the weed making it aesthetically pleasing.
Maintaining a dense and healthy turf is the best weed control.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.