Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Identifying Weeds

Weeds. The bane of gardeners' lives. But here at Vialii we always try and spin a positive out of a situation and for us weeding is an enjoyable job. Working our way round a congested border, clearing out the weeds which are vying for space, water, nutrients and light and trying to elbow your plants out of the ways can be a rewarding exercise. There's nothing quite like looking back on a newly weeded border, seeing your beautiful plants pride of place and knowing you have given them the best chance of growing to their full potential. But where do you start if you don't know the difference between your weeds and your wisteria? Here's a quick guide to some common garden weeds...


Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Possibly one of the most recognisable of weeds, daisies are most commonly found in lawns but can also seed themselves in flower beds and driveways. The daisy is a perennial weed which spreads into large mats.      

chickweedChickweed (Stellaria media)
One of the most common of weeds with the most delicate tiny white flowers and bright green foliage. An annual weed which is fairly easily dealt with.

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

shepherds purseClusters of  small white flowers form on a rosette of divided foliage. Stems are slightly hairy and straight. This weed is recognisable by its heart shaped seed pods which are likened to an old fashioned purse.

Goose Grass, Sticky Willy (Gallium aparine)
Goose grass

Often remembered from childhood, goose grass or sticky willy has clinging hairs on its leaves, stem and seeds which stick to your clothes. It's an annual and easy removed but also easily spreads with its self sown seedlings. Can grow up to 4ft high.

Convolvulus, Great Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)
Bind weed

A notorious, perennial weed which no gardener wants to find in their garden as its so hard to get rid of. It forms strings of heart shaped leaves on twining stems which climb over fences and hedges. The flowers are pretty white trumpets but the weed grows from woody, underground rhizomes and any tiny bit left will quickly grow again.

Blackberry (Rubus spp)

Known as the bramble in Scotland, its unwelcome in your garden due to its horrible jaggy stems. Don't let it take hold - it will send up multiple shoots which root at the tips. There is a deep, tough woody root. You may want to keep some in a hedge due to its fruits but be warned to keep it under control.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

A familiar face in most gardens where allowed, this perennial spreads around its parent plant by its tap root or it can spread far and wide by its floating seeds, from the dandelion "clock". Its incredibly hard to eradicate as any tiny piece of root that is left will grow into another plant. One of the more useful "weeds" with its edible leaves and medicinal values.

Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Creeping buttercup

Creeping buttercup spreads quickly and forms large mats. Whilst its reasonably easily removed due to its fairly shallow roots, its is difficult to erradicate completely. Most often found in damp, acidic soil, it has large, yellow flowers, rough leaves and creeping stems.

Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha)

Liverwort loves damp conditions and can be difficult to eradicate. Its often found creeping around pots and frilly "umbrellas" are seen growing on it. Remove from pots as it stops air, water and light reaching your plants and they will eventually die.

Couch Grass (Elymus repens)
Couch grass

Couch grass has creeping underground roots which are spread if rotivated. From the surface it looks like a clump of grass but underneath is a dense network of roots. Its susceptible to shade so can be killed by covering the area with old carpet. As a perennial weed thorough killing or eradication of its roots is necessary.

Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

There are many varieties of thistle which you may find in your garden. The creeping thistle is a voracious weed which will take over if allowed. Be sure to dig it out as it appears but watch out for the sharp stems. Try and avoid breaking the root as a new plant will grow but it will be weaker and will be easier to remove.

Dock (Rumex)

A common sight, the dock is recognisable by it's wide leaves with prominent mid-rib. Strings of green flowers turn into brown seed-pods. Its one benefit is that its crumpled leaves can be used to ease the pain of a nettle sting. The dock has a long tap root which all must be removed to eradicate. Beware rotivating where there are docks as each shredded piece will re-grow into a plant.

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) 
Rosebay willowherb

Known as the railway herb as its so often found on railway embankment, this weed can often find its way into our gardens. Spreading by seed or creeping rhizomes it can make a spectacular sight with its pink flowers on tall stems. Its has both culinary and medicinal values.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle

All too familar as few of us will have avoided ever being stung by this voracious weed. Its almost impossible to eradicate as it spreads by wiry red stolons, roots and by seed. It has culinary and medicinal uses.

Horse or Mares Tail (Equisetum Arvense)
mares tail

One of the most dreaded of weeds, it can spread like wildfire so if you see it, deal with it immediately. In Spring brown roots appear with cones and in summer its leaves or "tails" appear. Regular forking can help keep it at bay or several applications of weed killer.

At Vialii, we would always encourage that weeds are tackled in an organic way which unfortunately means some hard graft. Most weeds can be successfully tackled with time by digging over the affected areas carefully and regularly. Even the most voracious of weed will eventually be weakened and you will begin to regain control of your garden. If you don't have the patience, or you have a particularly bad infestation then weedkiller can be used. Several applications of glyphosate will be required but care should be taken to ensure it does not go onto plants you want to keep and that children and pets are kept away from the area until the application has completely dried. For more information on weeds or to get help tackling weeds in your own garden do not hesitate to contact us. To find out more about weeds in lawns click here.

All at Vialii

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