Weeds: The Ghosts, Zombies and Aliens In Your Garden

Pineappleweed Chamomilla suaveolens

Garden tip from Josh Rosenthal

Eco Minded Solutions

8445 Camino Santa Fe, Suite 201, Miramar



Eco Minded Solutions is a full-service residential and commercial landscape design, construction and maintenance company focusing on innovative, cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions. The company’s team includes LEED accredited designers, in-house horticulturalists, skilled laborers and dedicated project managers.


Weeds: The Ghosts, Zombies And Aliens In Your Garden

Weeds are a gardener’s bane. The soil is often full of weed seeds, and many weeds persist by roots, rhizomes and bulbs. They will return to haunt a new, pristine landscape installation and need to be dealt with promptly and methodically. It will take time, but once you get the weeds under control, most gardeners will enjoy a landscape relatively free of weeds. Here are some strategies for getting the weeds in your yard under control:


  • The best deterrent to weeds is a cover of healthy plants. Most weeds need bare, disturbed ground to germinate and get established. Cover bare ground with a layer of at least 2-inch thick mulch in all planter beds. 

  • Let fallen leaves and flowers build up in your planter beds. It’s free mulch and often looks better than mulch you purchase. 

  • Remove weeds that grow before they set seed. A single weed will become hundreds otherwise. But, don’t feel the need to go after every little seedling — many weed species are easier to pull once they grow a while, so you have enough to grab onto. But, don’t wait until they root in too firmly.  

  • Most weeds need to be pulled up from the roots or they will merely grow back with even stronger roots that make them harder to remove the next time. A dandelion fork, the cutting end of your pruners, and even an old screwdriver are useful weeding tools.  

  • Weed roots are more easily “uprooted” when the soil is moist. If the soil is too dry or wet, the top will break off from the roots, a pointless exercise. 

  • Resort to chemical herbicides when necessary. Some weeds, like Bermuda grass, are very difficult to dig up once established. Any piece of rhizome will re-sprout.  Systemic herbicides like Roundup are useful to kill the entire plant and are relatively safe as herbicides go. They are also useful for weeds in cracks and between rocks that are impossible to pull. Be careful to avoid getting the herbicide on any desirable plant.

  • Remove weeds that are mixed in with your plants by hand or resort to an herbicide that is specific to killing only weeds. Check with your gardening center for recommendations in such cases.  

  • Some situations, like planter beds filled with impossible-to-kill oxalis and sedges, require gardeners to either tolerate some weeds or dig up the entire bed and start over. 

  • Check any new plants for weeds and watch for newly germinating weeds from seeds in the soil.  Some of the worst weeds get introduced to your landscape this way.  

  • If you need to identify a weed in order to figure out how to deal with it, there are many on-line sources like the weed photo gallery provided by UC-Davis  (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html). You can also take a specimen to your garden center for ID and advice on how to deal with that bothersome species that continues to stalk your garden.  


Photo caption: Pineappleweed, Chamomilla suaveolens 


Categories: Gardening