Things are turning green and growing! Soil temperatures are in the 60-degree range, according to Michigan State University, and that wakes up seeds - not only grass and flower seeds, but the weed seeds, too. Here are ways to figure out what is a weed, and how to deal with them.
First, remember any plant that you don't want growing in a specific spot could be considered a nuisance weed. Even roses, iris, daylilies, and mint could be considered weeds if they get out of control. Some gardeners prefer to let Mother Nature do her thing and let all green things survive. Some look at dandelions and see obnoxious weeds. Others think they are beautiful yellow flowers dotting the yard. Weed seeds and roots are easily spread, so figure out how much you are willing to deal with.
Sometimes weeds are our friends. If you can't get anything to grow on a slope or section of your property with poor soil, you may be able to grow clover or crown vetch. Aggressive but lovely honeysuckle can be a beautiful show-off in a woodland setting. Just beware of transplanting state-designated noxious weeds.
Ground ivy, also known as creeping Charlie, is a vining weed that can wind its way through shrubs, up trees, and around an entire perennial bed. It has pretty blue flowers, but when you are trying to pull it out of your garden, those little blue flowers aren't worth all of the work.
Mint varieties are wonderful herbs that will fill a perennial bed in a hurry. They will also keep filling and filling and filling. Their underground rhizomes are sneaky and can even travel under a sidewalk. Plant mint in a pot first, then sink the pot in your flowerbed. This will help keep the roots contained.
Purple loosestrife is a pretty purple perennial that has become an invasive weed. You can see it take over in wetlands - do not bring it home and plant it! Information on this and other invasive plants is available by calling the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at 614-265-6453.
You would think a dark green vine called trumpet creeper with vibrant orange flowers would be a great addition to your landscape to get some height in the perennial bed. I can remember the thick vine growing on a cedar tree in my parent's yard as a kid growing up. It moved to the woodshed nearby, and even under the driveway. It was out of control. To limit its aggressive spreading, keep it clipped and chop off the seed pods before they pop. Give this plant room.
You have control options on all weeds. Covering them with black plastic, thick layers of mulch, or a board will smother them. Look for herbicides like MCCP or dicamba to take care of creeping Charlie. Other systemic herbicides can help you get control of encroaching weeds. Just be careful to treat the weeds only. Chemicals can't tell the difference between trumpet vine and your favorite clematis.
Environmentally friendly options include "mechaniciding." Don't look for that word in the dictionary just yet - I made it up as a term for weeding by hand. Weed early in the season to avoid setting more seeds. Mulch with three to five layers of your favorite material and keep an eye out for new sprouts. Or, you could just let Mother Nature have her way; instead of trying to beat them, join them. Besides, dandelions come in my favorite color.