weed growing out of cracked soilWeeds can suck the life out of any garden. They can turn a beautiful rose garden into an ugly patch of chickweeds and foxtails. Not only do they look ugly; they also take up precious space and nutrients that your other plants and grass need to be healthy. A meadow full of clover and dandelions may be pretty out in the countryside, but it turns your lawn into a mess of patchy bare spots and irregular lawn growth. So, whether you have a few pesky weeds popping up in your garden or a whole yard full of wild onions and garlic, you may need some help in getting those pesky patches to disappear.

dandelion puffs in a field

What is a Weed Anyway?

A weed is typically any kind of plant that grows where you don't want it to. And when you think about it, that can be just about anything. For example, many people love dandelions, but even more people hate them and wish they would go away. And just one of these perky plants can make up to 15,000 seeds! How do you fight something like that? It can be a long and difficult struggle which you may or may not win. Sure, those bright yellow flowers may be pretty to some folks, but do you want your lawn to be full of them instead of lush green grass? Really, I would not mind. But I live in the country and enjoy watching the wild critters snack on the dandelions and the clover that grows wild in our lawn. It drives my husband crazy, but I don’t mind it at all. Here are the top 10 weeds you may find in your yard:

  1. Bindweed: Also called creeping jenny is one of the most invasive weeds in the United States. It looks similar to ivy but has a white flower that looks like a morning glory.
  2. Ground Ivy: Also called creeping Charlie, many people love this stuff and will let it grow wherever it wants. But it is an aggressive weed that will invade any patch of grass or garden.
  3. Milkweed: This one is well-liked by many because the Monarch butterflies love it. It is also not a bad looking plant.
  4. Ragweed: This is one of the number one allergy-causing plants in the United States. In fact, it is considered to be the worst allergen of all the pollens and the main cause of hay fever.
  5. Jimsonweed: Growing up to five feet tall, this annoying plant can take over your lawn and kill anything that eats it. It is found all over the United States and Canada.
  6. Pokeweed: Also known as inkberry or pokeberry, this is another tall weed that is toxic to animals and humans.
  7. Sorrel: This small perennial is also called sheep’s sorrel and they are edible. It grows in the eastern half of North America.
  8. Dandelions: This is the one that almost everyone complains about although I personally like them. They are edible and pretty to me, but they can take over your yard and garden.
  9. Broadleaf Plantain: Large leaves and small flowers, these perennials will take over your flowerbeds and lawn.
  10. Thistle: The most common week found in North America is the thistle. Mowing or pulling this weed will not help. The roots grow down to over 10 feet so forget about digging them up.

man spraying chemicals on lawnGetting Rid of The Pesky Perennials

So, for most of these, you can just dig them up and make sure you get all of the roots. However, for some of the more difficult ones that tend to spread such as the thistle, ragweed, ground ivy, bindweed. While spraying some insecticide on them usually does the trick for even the aggressive ones, these chemicals can also kill your lawn and other plants as well as insects and other critters. It can also poison the groundwater, which can be a major problem if you live uphill from a lake like we do. So, let’s talk about the top seven natural killers.

  1. Vinegar: Full strength vinegar, either apple cider or white, can get rid of those irritating weeds. However, if it rains in the next 24 hours you will have to do it again. This is one of the safest and cheapest ways to kill weeds. Although some weeds may not be as easy to get rid of with this method.
  1. Bleach: Dump some bleach on those weeds. Then wait a couple of days and they will be ready to pull out. The bleach will keep them from returning but it will also kill any other plants or grass it comes into contact with so use it carefully.
  1. Salt: Mix table salt with water and boil it for a cheap and safe alternative. One cup of salt mixed with two cups of water will do it. You can also just dump salt onto the weeds. Just do not get it on anything you want to stay alive.
  1. Borax: Pour some borax into the cracks and crevices in your driveways or areas where weeds tend to crop up before they start. It will kill them before they have a chance to set down roots. This one is a bit dangerous though and will kill everything it touches.
  1. WD-40: It will get rid of those pesky squeaks around your house and you can also use it to kill the weeds. This is especially good for thistle.
  1. Baking Soda: This is a safe, easy, and cheap way to keep the dandelions and other weeds away. However, it is not as effective as the rest of the others.
  1. Vodka: If you cannot get rid of those annoying weeds, just grab a bottle of vodka to share with them. Either they will die, or you will not really care after you take a few drinks.

Anyway, no matter what weeds you have, you can always use a trowel or shovel to dig them up. It may take a lot longer and be a lot more work, but you don’t have to worry about killing anything else like your prize rosebushes or friendly deer.