Summer is here at last. But while the season brings colour and life to gardens, it’s also when the majority of unwelcome weeds appear too. Here, we look at some of the UK’s most common weeds and the weed control methods needed to tackle them.
Sometimes known as Bishop’s weed or gout weed, ground elder is a perennial weed that quickly establishes from small sections of root. You’ll spot it in late spring and early summer, identified by its heads of little white flowers. If it establishes in your plant beds, lift cultivated plants and remove traces of ground elder rhizome from around their roots before replanting in clean pots. Dig out the ground to remove the ground elder, before selecting a weed control fabric, such as Weedtex, Landtex or Groundtex, to starve ground elder of the light it needs to grow again. The cultivated plants can then be returned to the plant bed.
If you see white trumpet flowers appearing in early summer, it could be bindweed – also known as bellbind. It wraps itself around plants in borders and smothers them. Bindweed is notoriously tricky to eradicate. Tiny sections of the rhizome are capable of establishing and spreading over two metres in one season. As their roots can develop deep into the soil, manual methods such as hoeing, hand-pulling or scorching, can be ineffective at controlling bindweed. Weed control in borders and plant beds is helped by using the right landscaping fabric to starve weeds such as bindweed of the light they need.
Couch grass, also known as twitch or scutch, is identified by its thin, wiry roots. It is a perennial weed that can affect plant beds, borders and lawns. You’ll see it appear from springtime, which is the best time to treat it. It can be forked out in lighter soils, but be warned, it’s easy to leave behind rhizomes which can cause perpetual weed regrowth, much to the frustration of a dedicated gardener.
Creeping buttercup, identified by its yellow flowers, is a common weed that can spread rampantly, especially across lawns and borders. In borders, frequent hoeing throughout the summer will help eliminate creeping buttercup. On lawns, using a wire-tooth rake to lift developing creeping buttercup in the spring can help keep it under control.
The deep-rooted, perennial weed, horsetail also goes by the name marestail. Once established, the fir-like shoots spread quickly, crowding out plants in beds and borders. On lawns, it can be managed by mowing regularly. Controlling horsetail in borders is trickier, as deep roots will need a lot of excavation. Shallow or occasional weeding can make horsetail problems worse, as it can regrow from small pieces left behind. Weed control fabrics can help smother horsetail weeds in garden borders.
The tall, bamboo-like stems of Japanese knotweed is a garden’s Number 1 Nemesis. It spreads rapidly, suppressing all other plant growth, and can even damage buildings. It’s illegal to cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild, and since 2013, home sellers are required to state whether Japanese knotweed is present on their property. Getting rid of Japanese knotweed is no easy task. Eradication takes at least two seasons by professional contractors and requires specialist disposal.
Nettles thrive in newly cultivated soil where phosphate levels are high. Germinating quickly from seeds, they appear from the spring. Yet while nettles can be unsightly and undesirable, they are a source of food and habitat for butterflies, so total eradication shouldn’t be undertaken too hastily. Where removal is necessary, plants can be cut down at any time of year, and young seedlings can be eradicated by hoeing.
The bright yellow flowers of dandelions are unmistakable – often popping up on lawns and through pavement cracks. Digging alone can be ineffective at eradicating dandelions as they’re deeply rooted and their windborne seeds are spread easily. When laying new hard landscaping, such as patios, pathways and driveways, installing the correct weed control fabric will starve established rooted weeds of the light they need to thrive, but ones that are established after will need removing by hand or by weedkiller.
To check which weed control fabric is most appropriate for weeds in your garden, use the Growtivation Geo Fabric Product Selector or visit our Weed Control FAQ. Find out more about the Growtivation Product That Works range by downloading our Product Guide and your free copy of our Landscaping That Works guide to weed control and geotextile fabrics. Our PledgeMark warranty certifies that our products are suitable for their intended use for your peace of mind and quality assurance.