Spring weeds are out, and they seem to be growing at an incredible rate.
As much as we hate them, weeds are inevitable. Remember, a weed is just a misplaced plant. Many have fairly nice flowers, and if they weren’t in the middle of our lawns, we might not think so harshly of them. As I drive around town, I have realized that having a weed outbreak is actually worse for some yards more than others. Let me explain.
When weeds take over in a yard of turf grass, there are several ways to combat them. Physically bending down and pulling weeds from moist soil after rainfall or the sprinkler runs is fairly easy compared to tugging on them in dry, packed soil. Also, a post-emergent product can be applied along with a pre-emergent in the fall and next spring should reduce the number of weeds. You can also reduce weeds as you mow your lawn, and since most of them are green, the lawn doesn’t look too bad until the weeds outgrow the turf again.
But what about weeds in yards where people put down rock instead of turf? Or yards with more mulched areas or decomposed granite paths? For these lawns, a weed takeover can be much more difficult to eradicate.
Weeds are much more obvious in rock yards and mulched areas where people don’t want grass. They put down plastic and cover it with gravel, rocks, mulch, or even piles of boulders and think this will be a “no maintenance” lawn alternative to watering turf and having to mow, edge and fertilize in the heat of our Texas summers.
It sounds like a great idea until the weeds begin to grow. Every fall and spring, weed seeds germinate. And that “no maintenance” lawn requires some work, preferably before the weeds take over an area.
Because rocky and mulched areas usually don’t have irrigation, pulling weeds is more difficult. The ground is hard and the rocks and mulch interfere with getting a good grip on the base of the weed. This material has to be pushed away, which is rough on the hands and knees and leaves bare and uneven spots. Plus, these weeds cannot be mowed, and it’s dangerous to tackle them with a stringed weed edger since flying debris could injure someone or damage property. It’s also not easy to broadcast granular pre- or post-emergent weed killer on them.
The only alternatives are to apply a non-discriminating herbicide and wait for the weeds to die. But then there is still a yard full of brown weeds. They must be removed, but pulling dead ones is definitely easier. Because seeds will be left for next season, this area will need timely reapplication each season.
A final option is to rake out the area, replace old or missing weed barrier, and replace material with a thicker layer to deter new germination. This will be a lot of hard work or expense, but once it is finished, the results should be much better. I have seen some well-kept rock yards in this area and they always catch my eye. They are different and attractive if kept free and clear of weeds and other debris.
Darla Horner Menking is a certified Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at email@example.com.