Weeds are plants that grow where they’re not wanted. They compete with crops by stealing nutrients and water, as well as getting in the way of harvesting equipment. They also overwinter and show up again every spring! But not all weeds definition of michigan resident are bad; some of them can actually be beneficial to certain ecosystems (e.g., providing nesting areas for pollinators).

1. Plan Ahead

Before trying to get rid of weeds in the garden, it’s important to know what kind of weeds you’re dealing with. Here’s a quick overview of common weeds:

– Annual Weeds: Annuals are plants that don’t live more than one season. In spring they grow rapidly, grow few flowers, and dry up before they go to seed. Some annual weed seeds can survive in the soil for up to three years or more! How do you know if it’s an annual? If you can pull out the whole plant in a single season, it’s probably an annual. If you have to pull out most of the plant by hand or use weeding tools (e.g. a hoe) to get rid of it, it’s probably a perennial.

– Biennial Weeds: Biennials live for two seasons. The first year, they grow a rosette of leaves and produce flowers from the base of these leaves. The second year they produce a flower stalk and develop seeds. They usually die after setting seed. 

– Perennial Weeds: Perennial weeds are plants that easily survive one or many seasons in the garden because they have a sturdy root system that can reach deep into the soil or the roots can re-grow each year if you pull them out.

2. Know Your Enemy

The first step to picking the right weed control solution is knowing what kind of weed you’re dealing with. Here are three ways you can figure out what type of weeds you have in your garden:

Check the seed stems: If you see tiny, green seed heads growing on your weeds, then it’s most likely a type of broadleaf weed. If the seed heads are brown or dried up, the weed is probably either a grass or sedge (see step 3 for details on distinguishing between these two types).

Check for flowers: Some weeds have flowers that look similar to those of your crops. You can tell the difference between crop and weed flowers by comparing them side-by-side. Crop flowers are usually larger, fuller, and more vibrant than the flowers of weeds.

Check the leaf shape: When it comes to identifying weeds in the garden, leaf shape is key. If you’re trying to figure out what kind of broadleaf weed you have, just look at the size and shape of its leaves. There are lots of different kinds of weeds that have similar-looking leaves (e.g., dandelion and milkweed). To be sure you can identify a particular weed correctly, check out this list on eXtension’s website .

3. Know Your Weeds

Now that you’ve identified your weed(s), it’s time to figure out what kind of broadleaf weed it is. If the plant has a single and unbranched stem, then you have a sedge. Remember that sedges grow in more watery places than most grasses. Sedge leaves are usually wider than they are long (unlike most grasses), and they’re often narrower at the base than at the top (where they get suddenly wider). If you have a grass or sedge, proceed to step 4 for instructions on how to get rid of your particular weed. If you have a broadleaf weed, keep reading.

4. Keep up the Good Work

If you’re trying to get rid of a perennial or biennial weed, the best way to prevent it from returning next year is by pulling it out at the end of its growing season. If you leave pieces of the plant in the ground, it will regrow next year! For example, if you’re pulling up dandelions by hand , dig down until you can get your fingers around as many of their stems as possible and pull them out entirely. This prevents the root from re-growing next year. On the other hand, if you’re pulling them up by hand, consider using a weed wacker. The gasoline-powered and electric versions of these tools cut roots or stems as they’re swiped across the plant. You’ll also want to keep checking in late summer/early fall to see if any of the plants or seeds set seed (which can happen after five years).

If you’re not sure what you have in your garden, here’s some useful advice:  – Broadleaf weeds are usually larger than grasses and sedges (e.g., dandelions are bigger than black medic).  – Broadleaf weeds often have stalks that are thinner and less dense than grasses and sedges (e.g., milkweed is about as thick as your thumb).  – Broadleaf weeds can have flowers that look like those of your crops (e.g., dandelion flowers are usually not as big as corn showing and turn from yellow to brown). 


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