As many gardeners can attest, it doesn't take a green thumb to produce a garden lush with weeds. As long as man has been cultivating plants, weed control has been an issue. These opportunistic plants are hardy and tenacious -- some crabgrass seeds are viable for up to 60 years! There are many types of weed control available for every weed problem, ranging from simple to quite involved.
The different types of weed control can be grouped into three categories: mechanical, organic and chemical. Mechanical weed control includes simply pulling the weeds out by the root as they emerge. The drawbacks to this type of weed control are that the weed may not be completely removed, other plants may be uprooted in the process, and neighboring root systems may be damaged. Another type of mechanical weed control involves simply spacing plants close together in order to crowd out unwanted weeds. Flaming is a non-chemical method of weed control, which employs the use of a propane torch to burn weeds on driveways and sidewalks.
Some gardeners prefer a more organic approach to weed control. Mulch is a favorite type of weed control, and very effective. It deprives the weeds of much needed light. Using layers of newspaper or landscape fabric under the mulch boosts its effectiveness. Other non-toxic types of weed control include salt, vinegar, boiling water, dish washing soap and alcohol. While these may kill existing weeds temporarily, they rarely solve a long term weed problem.
The third type of weed control is chemical, which involves the use of herbicides to kill or prevent weed growth. Because many herbicides are specially formulated for specific types of weeds, a gardener must understand the type of weed he is facing. Just like plants, weeds come in annual, biennial and perennial forms. Different types of herbicides include pre-emergence, post-emergence and spot treatments.
Pre-emergence herbicides are designed to combat weeds before they sprout, and work best on crabgrass and dandelions. Corn gluten, one type of pre-emergence herbicide, has an enzyme that prevents seed germination. Although it is organic, corn gluten is often packaged with products that contain other herbicides. Post-emergence herbicides are meant to be used after the weed has sprouted, but these can kill other plants. Glyphosphate is an example of spot-treatment herbicide, which is used to kill individual weeds by direct application to the plant.
However big the problem, there are endless types of weed control available for any gardener, from beginner to expert.