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Worst Weeds in Landscape Plantings

Integrated Strategy is Key to Control

Eliminating the invasive weeds featured here isn’t easy. In fact, you may never be able to rid your property of them completely.

However, by following the steps outlined below - combined with a lot of patience (the ultimate virtue of every gardener) - you can at least reduce infestations of these weeds to manageable levels.

Prevention and Detection

Washing the soil from the roots of gift plants can remove clinging weed seed and root pieces.Be careful when accepting divisions from a friend’s garden as the soil surrounding the roots of the “gift” can harbor invasive weeds. The best way to avoid this mode of infestation is to wash the soil - and any weed seed and/or root pieces - from the roots of the gifts before planting them in your garden, at left. For more information on how to do this, click here.

This caution also extends to the rootballs and containers of nursery-grown trees, shrubs and perennials. Even though these plants may come from a Weeds transported in the rootballs of trees and shrubs are a common source of weed infestations.reputable local garden center, invasive weeds buried deep within the rootball may not appear for weeks, or even months after you add the plant to your landscape!

Also, be very wary of “topsoil.” I’ve visited many properties where landscape beds have been overrun by weeds that arrived in infested topsoil!

Goutweed straddling this property line will be impossible to control unless neighbors work together. And, make sure to patrol the edges of your property. If you’re battling a property-straddling infestation, at left, you'll win the war only if you and your neighbor work together to remove the weed from both properties.


Cuttung bindweed vines at the soil line will force them to use stored energy to send up new sprouts.After securing your property from weed infestations, start starving existing infestations by constantly cutting the stems and vines of these weeds to the ground from spring through mid-August, at right.

Without leaves, these weeds can’t make plant food (simple sugars and starches) through the process of photosynthesis. They’ll also use up food they’ve stored in their roots and rhizomes as they try to replace stems and vines that you keep cutting off!

Delivering the Fatal Blow

After starving these invasive weeds by keeping them cut close to the ground all summr, let them grow from mid-August to mid-September. Cutting them down all summer will make them less vigorous in September than they were in April. And, in response to shorter days and cooler temperatures, they’ll be translocating photosynthetic products as fast as possible from the leaves you’ve allowed them to form since the middle of August, down into their root system in preparation for the winter ahead.

A cotton glove saturated with a herbicide can we used to control weeds growing next to desirable plants.This combination of rapid translocation and weakened physical condition will increase the susceptibility of Japanese bamboo, goutweed and the bindweeds to applications of herbicides such as Roundup, Brush-B-Gon, etc. between the middle of September and the first killing frost. When growing among and/or on desirable plants in landscape beds, the best way to apply these herbicides may be to use a "glove-in-glove" technique, at left.

Horsetail is also weakened by repeated defoliation. However, it’s sensitive to only two herbicides. Casoron (dichlobenil), a granular herbicide, can be applied around some established trees and shrubs, but not perennials, between November and March. Meanwhile, Manage (halosulfuron-methyl), a liquid herbicide, can be sprayed directly on young foliage as it regrows in September and/or emerges in April and May. Both of these herbicides can be applied only by certified pesticide applicators.

Finally, infestations of yellow nutsedge can be eliminated over the course of several years by preventing tuber formation. Do this by pulling up young plants or wiping them with Roundup, Kleenup, or other glyphosate-containing herbicide as soon as they sprout in May or early June before new tubers start forming in July. When applied by a certified pesticide applicator, Manage herbicide will also control this annoying, invasive weed.