Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Mondays in Steamboat Today.
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One of the most bothersome weeds found in many Steamboat yards is bindweed, also known as wild morning glory. This plant crawls across the ground tangling itself in and over other plants, competing with them for water, nutrients and sunshine.
Getting rid of it is tough. Pulling it up causes the stems to snap, leaving the roots and seeds in the soil to come back stronger and bigger than ever. In fact, the more you break this plant apart, the more growth you’ll experience as it rejuvenates new foliage, seeds and roots. The seeds can remain dormant in your soil for years, and then when conditions are right, sprout into new plants.
The best way to control bindweed is to apply a post-emergent herbicide such as 2,4-D, Dichlorprop (Weedone), Tryclopyr (Turflon or Confront), Aminocyclopyrachlor (Perspective) or Dicamba (Trimec), which come in liquid form for spraying or granular form. In fact, for bindweed, you may need to use a combination of these herbicides. Any seeds in your soil will not be affected by the herbicide; it only treats a growing plant. Also, it is very important to follow package directions and use all safety precautions. For example, Confront is known to cause irreversible damage to eyes if it gets into them.
Spring and fall, when the plant actively is growing, are the best times to treat this weed. We do not recommend applying herbicides in July and August as it is less effective then and could cause more harm to other desirable plants in your yard and garden.
If bindweed has tangled into desirable plants or is located near trees or shrubs, carefully coat the leaves of bindweed with the herbicide. If bindweed is in your lawn, the products previously listed will not harm Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and fine fescue.
With the exception of thistles, all other broadleaf weeds should be treated in the spring and fall. This includes annuals such as common chickweed, knotweed, purslane, spurge and wood sorrel (Oxalia), which often can be controlled by pulling them up by the roots before they set seed.
For other broadleaf weeds — such as the perennial dandelion, curly dock, white clover and yarrow — be sure to dig out the entire taproot or the weed will regrow even deeper into the soil and require chemical controls for eradication.
The best way to control weeds in your yard and garden is to prevent the weed seeds from germinating in the first place. This can be done through the use of mulches, landscape fabric and by planting your vegetables and annual flowers close together so their growth will shade out weeds. Ground covers and low-growing plants around taller ones also will help keep weed population down.
Once you’ve initially cleared your garden of bothersome weeds, keep an eye out for new sprouts and pull them as soon as they appear. They should come up easily and permanently, if you get the entire root system.
Deb Babcock is a volunteer master gardener through CSU Extension Routt County. Products and chemicals mentioned in this article are not endorsements by the Master Gardener program. Call 970-879-0825 or County Weed Supervisor Greg Brown at 970-870-5246 with questions.