Question: What is a growing season without weeds? Answer: Easier. From pervasive grasses to vines to large plants, there are many varieties of growth that would be wonderful specimens…if they would grow elsewhere. Here are some of the more pesky plants and weeds found in Alabama.
Broadleaf Signalgrass – This is the stubborn clump of grass that rears its head in bald patches of ground, saying, “Nothing growing here? Thanks, I’ll take it.” These weeds grow to about three feet in height if left alone. The stalks are generally maroon in color, and the tapered leaves grow out at fairly consistent intervals up the stalk. Some call it “poor man’s bamboo” or “redneck bamboo”. It’s fairly easy to bend down and pull this annoying weed, but when you have a yard full of it the last thing you want to do is spend the day crawling on your hands and knees. The best way to get rid of broadleaf signalgrass is to use a granule, or spray herbicide. Be careful to spray directly on the plant, avoiding as much grass as possible. Fortunately with the way these clumps tend to “pool” on the ground, it’s a pretty easy target.
Crabgrass – I have one word for crabgrass. Actually, I’m not going to type it here, but there is very little for me to appreciate about this weed, other than the fact that its green. My backyard is constantly overrun with it. These summer weeds reproduce by seeds, and will emerge in straight, thin stalks on a weekly basis if your yard is not tended to. There are pre-emergent herbicides designed for crabgrass, but be cautious when applying. For instance, don’t apply the pre-emergent then aerate your lawn, that would merely put holes in the protective layer you’re trying to create. Apply the pre-emergent before germination.
Clover – A weed? Debatable. For those with perfectly manicured lawns, clover is something to dispose of as quickly as possible. This flower can take over a yard within weeks, providing great leafy patches to walk through barefoot, if you are mindful of the bees. And who can resist looking for the four, five, or six leaf clover? All that aside, clover is terrific in pastures, meadows and parks, but can be seen as an eyesore in the best, well-kept neighborhoods. There is no good way to rid yourself of clover other than constant mowing, but for a long-term solution, check your Ph level. The denser your lawn, the less likely those clover patches will pop up. Otherwise, having a bit of clover in your lawn is actually a good thing. It pulls nitrogen from the air and feeds it to your lawn, hence its darker green shade. Many lawn mixtures now include clover.
Kudzu – “The vine that ate the South”. While not technically a weed, you can’t mention local invasive plants or weeds and not throw in a comment about kudzu. This fat leaf vine covers anything in its path, for miles, and grows up to one foot per day. Its said that if you can sit long enough, you can watch it grow. While Kudzu does make interesting formations when covering trees, rocks, cliffs, houses and power poles (there’s a very interesting dinosaur creature down the street) overall it is a nuisance that takes constant pruning to tame. It is greatly enjoyed by wildlife and has been used for erosion control. In Chinese medicine, Kudzu is an essential herb, and indeed it has proven to have several medicinal properties. Sort of makes up for the miles and miles of highway scene you miss. Unfortunately, the only way to rid yourself of kudzu, is to move.
There are encyclopedias written on the subject of weeds. Okay, so nowadays there are thousands of internet pages. If you are interested in learning more about pesky and invasive plants in your area, try these sites: