How to Control Annual Weeds

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Annual weeds (eg groundsel, rose-bay willow-herb, chickweed) are those which produce seed in the same year that they began to grow. They produce many seeds that drop near the plant, or blow around, and if they land on bare soil, they are ready to grow during the next mild period of weather. Wherever you disturb the ground, or where moles, worms or rabbits do this for you, seeds of annuals will germinate once the growing conditions are right. The seed may land after the soil becomes bare, or have been buried and then returned close enough to the surface for light to trigger germination.

  • Control annual weeds by hoeing. This chops off the stems at ground level, and the roots cannot re-grow. Or control them by digging the ground over so that you bury the weeds on the surface.
  • Don’t let annual weeds grow large enough to flower and seed, otherwise you’ll have an even bigger problem later. If you don’t have time to hoe every week, at least remove the flowers, so that seeds cannot be produced on the plant. The flowers can sometimes continue to develop into seeds, so bag up the deadheads and bin them, or compost them if your heap gets hot enough.
  • Hoe weedy and bare areas every week to kill visible weeds and disturb just-germinated seeds below the surface. Newly germinated seedlings won’t survive this treatment unless there is a lot of rain.