Weeding any area of your landscape can be a daunting task and not for some. You can always hire your landscaper for the extra duty when needed.

Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches can host crickets and carabid beetles, which seek out and devour thousands of weed seeds.
After a drenching rain, stage a rewarding weeding session by equipping yourself with gloves, a sitting pad, and a trug or tarp for collecting the corpses. As you head out the door, slip an old table fork into your back pocket because there’s nothing better for twisting out tendrils of henbit or chickweed. When going after bigger thugs, use a fishtail weeder to pry up taprooted weeds, like dandelion or dock.

Under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. In mulched beds, use an old steak knife to sever weeds from their roots, then patch any open spaces left in the mulch.

For larger plots of land. Control, the most common management strategy, reduces a weed population to a level where you can make a living off of or enjoy using the land. Adequate control also may prevent future infestations. There are four control methods: cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical.

Cultural control methods promote growth of desirable plants. Seeding is the most commonly used cultural control method and must be combined with control methods that decrease the target weed population and gives the seeded species an opening in the environment to successfully germinate and establish (colonize). The USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service is an outstanding source of information as to what species to plant in a particular area and at what rate. Fertilization, irrigation and planting at optimum densities let crops compete with weeds and not with each other. While nitrogen fertilization increases yields in grass hay meadows, it also fosters weed establishment and growth. Fertilize cautiously, especially with nitrogen, and only when necessary as determined by soil testing.

Mechanical control methods physically disrupt weed growth. This is the oldest control method and is used most often worldwide. Tillage, hoeing, hand-pulling, mowing and burning are examples. To mulch or smother weeds often is considered mechanical, even though it simply excludes light rather than physically disrupting weed growth.

Biological control methods use an organism to disrupt weed growth. Often the organism is an insect or disease and a natural enemy of the weed. This is called classical biological control. Classical is not the only form of biological control. Livestock can be effective weed-management tools if managed correctly. However, improper livestock management (overgrazing) can be extremely damaging to the environment and exacerbate weed problems.

Chemical control methods use herbicides to disrupt weed growth. The first rule of any pesticide use is to read the label before using the product and follow all directions and precautions. (NOTE: Avoid using soil-active herbicides, such as Tordon, Banvel/Vanquish/Clarity, Perspective, or Telar, near windbreak plantings and other desirable woody vegetation. Plant injury or death can occur. Do not allow any herbicide to drift onto woody or other desirable vegetation for the same reason.)

Weed Management Systems

A weed management system uses two or more control methods. The key is to encourage desirable plant growth with optimum fertilization, when necessary, and/or irrigation (cultural control) where applicable. Plant competition is an often overlooked tool and should be used first, but not exclusively. When enhancement of the desirable plant community is necessary, make sure you seed at optimum rates to ensure establishment and subsequent competition with weeds. Generally, perennial, sod-forming grasses compete best with weeds.

Till, hoe, hand-pull, mow or mulch (mechanical control) if desired. Herbicides (chemical control) are powerful tools that should be used judiciously, not exclusively. Herbicides may be a component of the weed-management system. Biological controls can also be part of a system. Several natural enemies currently are available from the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Livestock grazing can be effective, depending on the weed species, if the livestock are properly managed for weed control.