how do weeds grow without water

You can get in-depth information on drip irrigation from the Irrigation and Green Industry Network in the “Where to Find It” section.

Any weeds that grow through mulch are easy to pull because the soil remains loose. Photo by Saxon Holt.

Irrigation & Green Industry Network 916C N. Formosa Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046 www.igin.com 323/878-0318.

(For those of you who already have weeds attacking your yard, read our article on How to Get Rid of Weeds.)

The frequency and timing of your fertilizing efforts are also crucial to healthy lawns. Both vary depending on your lawn type and the length of your growing season. Most northern lawns need only one or two applications of fertilizer annually—once in fall and sometimes a second time in spring. Southern grasses might require three feedings—early to mid-spring just after the grass greens up, early summer and again in early fall.

Apply Preemergence Herbicides.

Denman & Co. 401 W. Chapman Ave. Orange, CA 92866 714/639-8106 Ball weeder.

Tips on how to keep weeds out of the garden, add the right amount of mulch over weeds, and 6 mistakes to avoid to keep your garden weed-free.

Left unattended, weeds will quickly fill in unplanted areas and any open ground around plants. Mulch spread over the soil surface blocks the sunlight most annual weeds need to take hold. Weeds that do sprout are easy to pull because soil beneath mulch remains loose and moist. Coarse chipped or shredded bark is a good choice for large areas between trees and shrubs because it decomposes slowly and doesn’t easily blow away. For paths, a thick layer of sawdust provides good weed suppression because it depletes nitrogen in the soil.

Too little fertilizer can lead to sparse lawn that loses the competition with weeds. Too much helps nurture certain weeds, notably annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass and crabgrass. Strike a balance by following the application rates on the package. And use a fertilizer with a high percentage of controlled-release nitrogen, such as sulfur-coated urea, ureaform or IBDU. These provide a slow, steady nutrient supply.

Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots and helps annual bluegrass, crabgrass, chickweed, sedges and other weed seeds germinate. If you water too little, the lawn suffers while spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, quackgrass and other weeds adapted to drier soil thrive. Instead, provide your lawn with infrequent, deep soakings. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to determine when you have applied 1 inch of water.

You can also use landscape fabrics to control weeds under decks and in pathways (spread over the excavated soil base before you add gravel or sand). A 3×50-ft. roll of landscape fabric, such as the Typar shown below, costs about $10. The fabric is also available in 36-in. die-cut circles (about $3 each) for installing at the base of trees.

Weeds can’t survive without moisture. In areas with little or no summer rain, drip irrigation or soaker hoses help prevent weed seeds from sprouting by depriving them of water. These systems deliver water to the root zone of plants at the soil level. The soil surface and area surrounding the plants stays relatively dry. In contrast, overhead sprinkler systems spray water over the entire soil surface and supply both garden plants and weeds with water.

In the process of trying to eliminate weeds, people often make mistakes that lead to more weeds. Here are the most common:

Yes, you can. Synthetic landscape fabrics provide a physical barrier to weeds yet allow air, water and nutrients through to plant roots. Spread the fabric over bare soil around trees and shrubs; overlap several inches of fabric at the seams. Anchor the material with U-shaped metal pins, then conceal it with 1 to 2 in. of mulch, such as stone or bark chips.

Deprive Weeds of Water.

Lee Valley Tools Ltd. Box 1780 Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780 800/871-8158 Telescoping Crack Weeder.

Photo by Saxon Holt.

Think it’s an overstatement to call it the war against weeds? Here’s what you’re up against.

A single redroot pigweed is able to produce up to 30,000 seeds in a season. And those seeds can remain alive in the soil for 70 years waiting to sprout and overrun your perennial border at any time.

This Preemergence herbicide, made from corn gluten, is nontoxic. You can safely use it near all of your vegetables as well as around ornamental plants. Photo by Saxon Holt.

Controlling weeds is a fight you can’t win entirely because they always grow back. But you can keep weeds under control by depriving new ones of the conditions they need to take root in the first place. Let’s look at how to prevent weeds from growing.

6 Weeding Mistakes.

Spread Landscape fabric and cut it to fit around plants. Photo by Saxon Holt.

Preemergence herbicides, such as those containing oryzalin or trifluralin (look on the label for these chemicals), or nontoxic corn gluten meal, kill weeds just as they germinate and will not eradicate established weeds. For a preemergence herbicide to be effective, you must apply it to soil cleared of visible weeds; also, you have to water most of these herbicides into the soil.

As with most types of prevention, discouraging weed seeds from sprouting requires some extra time now so you can save a lot of time later.

Mowing too low weakens turf by reducing the ability of a grass leaf to produce enough nutrients. It also lets light hit the soil surface, which helps crabgrass and goosegrass seeds sprout and grow. Check with your local extension service for the recommended range of mowing heights for your grass type. Then mow at the highest level—usually between 2 and 4 inches.

Check the label to determine if it is safe for use around the kinds of landscape plants you have and effective against the weeds normally present.

Raindrip Inc. 2250 Agate Ct. Simi Valley, CA 93065 www.raindrip.com 877/237-3747 Request the free “Drip Watering Made Easy” guide.

True Temper Hardware Box 8859 Camp Hill, PA 17011 800/393-1846 Scuffle hoe.

Many weeds also have notoriously short life cycles. Chickweed completes its entire life cycle in 5-6 weeks, from germination to flowering, to seeding and dying. Because weeds have brief life cycles, it’s important to remain vigilant and take measures to kill weeds early with your weed killer of choice. If you take your eyes off your garden for a few weeks, the next time you look you might see clusters of flowering chickweed among your plants.

In the right conditions, with a combination of rain and warm weather, weeds can grow 1–2 inches overnight. You really can go to bed with weeds seemingly under control and wake up to a crop of weeds taking over your garden and lawn.

These factors can account for the fact that weeds seem to be growing a lot faster than your grass. Weeds get a head start on growth, thrive in the local climate, and are capable of growing extremely quickly.

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Cultivated plants and grasses may begin growing a bit later than weeds, leading to your desirable plants struggling to sprout in soil where weeds have already taken over. Those fast-sprouting weeds can block sunlight from reaching your new sprouts.

Can Weeds Grow Overnight?

The good news is, your plants are capable of similar growth in ideal conditions (many lawn grasses can grow an inch or more in a day if given the proper set of circumstances). If you create a watering schedule that benefits your desired plants, they can compete with weeds. A healthy lawn and garden can even resist weed invasion because there are fewer places for weeds to sprout.

Weeds often seem to grow faster than desirable garden plants for the following reasons:

For instance, yellow star-thistle grows well in regions with long dry periods because it is specifically adapted to this climate. Meanwhile, the plants and grass you’re trying to grow may be less drought-resistant, which could stunt their growth, even when they are properly cared for.

Dormant weed seeds may also germinate earlier in the growing season than the seeds of desirable plants. As soon as temperatures rise to the minimum for plant growth, certain species of weeds sprout vigorously.

Weed species vary from region to region and are highly adapted to local climates. Because of this, weeds thrive, even in low-water regions.

Simply put, weeds thrive without water because they’re adapted to it. The weeds in your region are usually present because they flourish there without any human cultivation. They’re ready for whatever the elements throw at them, so don’t count on nature to kill them.

Weeds can grow 2–3 inches in 24 hours, given the right set of circumstances. 2 inches may not sound like much, but when a cluster of crabgrass sends out blades of grass in every direction, a couple inches of growth on each blade turns a minor nuisance into a major weed.

The good news is, warm, wet weather is also great for most lawn grasses and desirable plants. If you battle the weeds back, your other plants should be able to take advantage of this perfect weather and grow strong enough to resist future weed takeovers.

Like all plants, weeds need air, sunlight, water, and space to grow. However, many weeds are tolerant of extreme conditions.

How Quickly Can Weeds Grow?

We know the following about weeds:

All of these conditions give weeds a head start over the plants and grasses we cultivate. This is why it can sometimes seem like your lawn and garden is overrun by weeds overnight. Those pesky weeds can sprout quickly from existing roots and seeds, flourishing before garden plants have a chance to take hold.

Weeds grow quickly in our lawns and gardens because many species of weeds sprout from large underground roots that give them an energy boost in spring. Weeds also thrive because local weed species are adapted to their climate. Additionally, weeds have short lifespans, requiring them to progress from germination to flowering in very little time. Keep a close eye out. Weeds can grow extremely quickly, overtaking a yard or garden in a matter of days or weeks if not controlled early.

Why Do Weeds Grow Faster than Grass?

Weeds live underground and that is where they keep root. Weeds will branch these long veins in the ground and take root based on their seasons. Many common ones up here such as medusaheads and cheat grass are designed to stay hidden and dormant during the winter in order to survive. The idea is that each weed in its part will always be trying to grow.

Weeds grow and eat purely based on the soil and the sun, unfortunately, they don't need both, they only need one. While they will always grow towards the sun, they don't require it to survive, which is why we are able to see them in the first place.

So if you cut a weed in half and leave it in the ground, it will grow. If you cut of both ends of it and leave a stalk there, it will grow into a new fuller weed.

So how do you get rid of them?

But in short, you will need to take out every aspect of the roots and seeds in order to get rid of the weeds. This is where the term seed bank comes in. The fact is that weeds have started to realize that we don't like them in our garden, so in order to survive they have begun leaving their sproutlings dormant all over the place. This means that there will always be the possibility of weeds anywhere.

To answer this question, we have to address the fact that short of completely eviscerating the species forever, it's impossible. You can get rid of every root in your garden or lawn and if your neighbor doesn't keep care of theirs, it will grow into your yard.

If you would like to know more about winter or autumnal growing patterns, come on down to our garden center and talk to us. We provide a ton of services including professional landscaping for you and your loved ones. If you would like to know more about our company and services, feel free to give us a call at (715) 832-4553!

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