Everyone has wondered ‘how do weeds spread’ before. If your flower garden has ever been choked up with weeds, your vegetable garden infested with the Covers subjects about horticulture and pest management for the grower and associated industries
How Do Weeds Spread? | Mowbot
Everyone has wondered ‘how do weeds spread’ before. If your flower garden has ever been choked up with weeds, your vegetable garden infested with the problematic sprouts, or your lawn has ever produced unsightly patches of unwanted plants, you understand the difficulties and headache of weeds. Knowing how weeds spread can help you reduce the occurrence of the plants in your yard, making your lawn lush, green, and clean again.
Most homeowners pride themselves on the quality of their lawns. They seek a curbside appeal and envious neighbors. But if your lawn is covered in dandelions, yarrow, daisy weeds, or creeping buttercups, you might be at your wit’s end trying to eliminate them from the yard. Weeds are invasive and pervasive. Once their seeds take root and sprout, they quickly spread and can cover large patches of ground.
Unfortunately, removing them from your lawn is only part of the battle, and most herbicides are dangerous to your family, pets, and the environment. If you want the perfect yard, you need to know how weeds spread and how to fix your weed problem before it starts.
SO, EXACTLY HOW DO WEEDS SPREAD ANYHOW?
There are four main ways for weed seeds enter your yard. You could have only one inlet, multiple, or all of them affecting your property. Wind, water, animals and people, and machines are all potential carriers of seeds.
Weeds are spread by the wind both naturally and forcefully. Dandelions are a perfect example, as the fluffy white ball of seeds they produce are quickly scattered by a breeze and are forcibly spread by children blowing on them to make wishes. Dandelions aren’t alone. Common Milkweed and Horseweed likewise produce tufts of seed that are designed to spread in the wind.
Light, tufty seeds are not the only ones spread by the wind. Even larger seeds can be blown around and carried by strong gusts. Thunderstorms and hurricanes can move seeds farther than usual.
Some variations of seeds are designed to float on water and are easily carried downstream or through backyard drainage to new locations. More common in wetland weed species, locally heavy downpours in your area can move bulkier seeds to your yard. Purple Loosestrife and Blue Flag Iris rely on water dispersion to some extent.
- How do weeds spread by animals and people?
Animals are a significant contributor to the spread of seeds. Many species of weeds use animal dispersion as a natural part of their life cycle. Some seed pods are designed to pass through the digestive tract of birds and mammalian herbivores, allowing them to move to a new location through animal defecation. Black Nightshade, Giant Ragweed, and Wild Carrot are spread through animal ingestion.
Other seeds cling to animal fur with sticky hairs and hooked spines like Common Hedge Parsley. Some species are sticky when wet, allowing them to attach themselves to the bottom of hooves and human shoes.
Humans have a history of deliberately introducing new plant species to areas previously void of them. Many of these plants grow aggressively, taking over large tracts of land due to lack of natural enemies. Dame’s Rocket was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental flower for gardens, but it has spread to woodlands and is considered an invasive weed.
Automobiles, bikes, and lawn equipment are some of the machines that spread seeds on their wheels and blades. Construction machines can also spread weeds. Any machine moving from one area or yard to another contributes to the increase of weeds.
Lawn equipment is especially damaging to your yard. Your lawn care company is using the same mower and blades on every yard it mows, cross-contaminating your neighbor’s yard and weed problem to yours.
HOW DO WEEDS SPREAD AND HOW DO I STOP THEM?
Weeds are a considerable problem for homeowners looking for a neat and orderly lawn they can be proud of. With so many diverse ways for weeds to spread, how do you stop them?
One fantastic place to start is ditching your current commercial lawn care company. Their equipment is cross-contaminating your yard with every other yard it touches. Traditional lawn mowers add a significant number of seeds and other pollutants to your property, drastically increasing your likelihood of weeds and other problems. And if your lawn care company uses toxic herbicides to remove the weeds you’re looking at long-term damage to your yard and the introduction of harmful chemicals to the land where your children and pets spend time and play.
MowBot is a non-traditional lawn care company that costs the same, if not less than your current company, but eliminates the cross-contamination and decreases the number of weeds you are dealing with. MowBot is a unique, environmentally friendly company using a robotic lawn mower that lives and works quietly and continuously on your property, never leaving and never introducing new, harmful elements. Our equipment and cars are battery-powered, and we never use dangerous chemicals on your lawn. We design a service package to meet your needs, including mulching, a proven method to reduce weeds in your garden. MowBot is your best option for your lawn care and weeding needs.
More info? For more information about robotic mowing services, check out our Mowbot website here.
Call 833-MOWBOT1 to schedule an appointment with a Mowbot specialist today!
Weeds With Seeds
The last post demonstrated the remarkable ability and unique features of aphids that allow them to rapidly boost their numbers and colonize their hosts in favorable conditions. What about weeds? What features give them the ability to rapidly colonize a potted crop or planted field? Many plants become weeds because they have the powerful trick of producing many many seeds. Seeds are dispersed by wind, insects, animals, or by their association with our nursery tools and machinery. Often, these seeds are long-lived in the soil. Consider these statistics:
Probably some unfortunate graduate students or field assistants in 1954 were given the task to count weed seed of hundreds of common weed species from about 50 plant families in North Dakota. The table above is just a sampling (Stevens 1957). In most cases a single plant, judged to be of average size and growing where competition was low, was harvested at maturity or when a maximum number of seeds could be obtained. The plants were air dried for two weeks or more, threshed and cleaned to re-move immature seeds, empty florets, etc. All of the sampling methods are described in the Stevens reference given below.
So basically left on their own, weeds have a profound ability to produce seed. Some seed are not viable, some germinate immediately, and some persist, perhaps for years, in the soil as a “seed bank”. This bank represents the holdings of weed seeds in the soil. Place a “deposit” of seed in this bank, and your “interest” is compounded in a big way. An interesting experiment with velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) an important weed in soybean crops demonstrated this (Hartzler, 1996).
Velvetleaf is a prolific seed producer and seeds are long-lived. In 1990, replicated experimental plots were planted with soybean and then with one of three velvetleaf densities: 0, 0.2, and 0.4 plants per square meter. In subsequent years, the experiments were maintained in a corn-soybean rotation. Weed densities were determined at crop harvest for four years. As seen above– even with competition from the crop plants– velvetleaf density increased dramatically for years following the very sparse initial planting of the weed. There were even some velvetleaf plants seen in the untreated “0” plots, even though the plots were hand weeded to reduce seed production for 5 years prior to initiating the study.
The number of weed seeds in in the soil can range from near 0 to over 1,000,000 per square yard, and most weed seeds are between 0 and 5 years old. A small number of seed can remain viable for decades or more. With this knowledge, one of the most important principles of weed management is to “never let weeds go to seed”. Never.
Stevens O.A., 1957. Weeds, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jan.), pp. 46-55
Hartzler R.G. 1996. Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) Population Dynamics following a Single Year’s Seed Rain