Weeds often seem to grow faster than desirable garden plants for the following reasons: How do weeds grow is the oldest question for many botanists and avid garderners alike, but Green Thumb is going to get down in the dirt and answer the question for you! What is a weed? A weed is defined as any plant growing in locations that are not desired, like in a lawn or landscape. Why do weeds grow? Weeds are
How Do Weeds Grow So Fast and How Quickly Can They Grow?
Weeds often seem to grow faster than desirable garden plants for the following reasons:
- Weeds typically sprout from existing root systems or seeds present in the soil. Dormant root systems have a lot of stored energy for fast growth when spring arrives.
- Dormant weeds present in your yard have already acclimated to the soil. Store-bought plants and seeds you sow yourself may grow more slowly as they adjust to soil conditions.
- Some weeds have very short life cycles, sometimes lasting only 5–6 weeks. They have to grow quickly to go from a seed to a flowering plant in just a few weeks.
- Weeds are often native plants that thrive in the local ecosystem, which helps them grow faster than desirable plants, which may be non-native.
All of these conditions give weeds a head start over the plants and grasses we cultivate. This is why it can sometimes seem like your lawn and garden is overrun by weeds overnight. Those pesky weeds can sprout quickly from existing roots and seeds, flourishing before garden plants have a chance to take hold.
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What Causes Weeds to Grow?
Like all plants, weeds need air, sunlight, water, and space to grow. However, many weeds are tolerant of extreme conditions.
Dormant weed seeds may also germinate earlier in the growing season than the seeds of desirable plants. As soon as temperatures rise to the minimum for plant growth, certain species of weeds sprout vigorously.
Cultivated plants and grasses may begin growing a bit later than weeds, leading to your desirable plants struggling to sprout in soil where weeds have already taken over. Those fast-sprouting weeds can block sunlight from reaching your new sprouts.
How Do Weeds Grow Without Water?
Weed species vary from region to region and are highly adapted to local climates. Because of this, weeds thrive, even in low-water regions.
For instance, yellow star-thistle grows well in regions with long dry periods because it is specifically adapted to this climate. Meanwhile, the plants and grass you’re trying to grow may be less drought-resistant, which could stunt their growth, even when they are properly cared for.
Simply put, weeds thrive without water because they’re adapted to it. The weeds in your region are usually present because they flourish there without any human cultivation. They’re ready for whatever the elements throw at them, so don’t count on nature to kill them.
How Quickly Can Weeds Grow?
Weeds can grow 2–3 inches in 24 hours, given the right set of circumstances. 2 inches may not sound like much, but when a cluster of crabgrass sends out blades of grass in every direction, a couple inches of growth on each blade turns a minor nuisance into a major weed.
Many weeds also have notoriously short life cycles. Chickweed completes its entire life cycle in 5-6 weeks, from germination to flowering, to seeding and dying. Because weeds have brief life cycles, it’s important to remain vigilant and take measures to kill weeds early with your weed killer of choice. If you take your eyes off your garden for a few weeks, the next time you look you might see clusters of flowering chickweed among your plants.
Can Weeds Grow Overnight?
In the right conditions, with a combination of rain and warm weather, weeds can grow 1–2 inches overnight. You really can go to bed with weeds seemingly under control and wake up to a crop of weeds taking over your garden and lawn.
The good news is, warm, wet weather is also great for most lawn grasses and desirable plants. If you battle the weeds back, your other plants should be able to take advantage of this perfect weather and grow strong enough to resist future weed takeovers.
Why Do Weeds Grow Faster than Grass?
We know the following about weeds:
- Weeds sprout earlier than some other plants and often have the benefit of established root systems.
- Weeds are highly adapted to their local region.
- Weeds can grow 1–3 inches in a day, given the right conditions.
These factors can account for the fact that weeds seem to be growing a lot faster than your grass. Weeds get a head start on growth, thrive in the local climate, and are capable of growing extremely quickly.
The good news is, your plants are capable of similar growth in ideal conditions (many lawn grasses can grow an inch or more in a day if given the proper set of circumstances). If you create a watering schedule that benefits your desired plants, they can compete with weeds. A healthy lawn and garden can even resist weed invasion because there are fewer places for weeds to sprout.
Why Do Weeds Growing So Fast?
Weeds grow quickly in our lawns and gardens because many species of weeds sprout from large underground roots that give them an energy boost in spring. Weeds also thrive because local weed species are adapted to their climate. Additionally, weeds have short lifespans, requiring them to progress from germination to flowering in very little time. Keep a close eye out. Weeds can grow extremely quickly, overtaking a yard or garden in a matter of days or weeks if not controlled early.
How do Weeds Grow?
Weeds live underground and that is where they keep root. Weeds will branch these long veins in the ground and take root based on their seasons. Many common ones up here such as medusaheads and cheat grass are designed to stay hidden and dormant during the winter in order to survive. The idea is that each weed in its part will always be trying to grow.
So if you cut a weed in half and leave it in the ground, it will grow. If you cut of both ends of it and leave a stalk there, it will grow into a new fuller weed.
Weeds grow and eat purely based on the soil and the sun, unfortunately, they don’t need both, they only need one. While they will always grow towards the sun, they don’t require it to survive, which is why we are able to see them in the first place.
So how do you get rid of them?
To answer this question, we have to address the fact that short of completely eviscerating the species forever, it’s impossible. You can get rid of every root in your garden or lawn and if your neighbor doesn’t keep care of theirs, it will grow into your yard.
But in short, you will need to take out every aspect of the roots and seeds in order to get rid of the weeds. This is where the term seed bank comes in. The fact is that weeds have started to realize that we don’t like them in our garden, so in order to survive they have begun leaving their sproutlings dormant all over the place. This means that there will always be the possibility of weeds anywhere.
If you would like to know more about winter or autumnal growing patterns, come on down to our garden center and talk to us. We provide a ton of services including professional landscaping for you and your loved ones. If you would like to know more about our company and services, feel free to give us a call at (715) 832-4553!
Why Weeds Grow and How to Control Them
A weed is defined as any plant growing in locations that are not desired, like in a lawn or landscape.
Why do weeds grow?
Weeds are considered opportunistic and grow when conditions are favorable, such as specific temperatures, lawn moisture levels, bare or thin turf areas, and can even grow in cracks in the roads, sidewalks or driveways. Weeds have the ability to grow anywhere there’s room. Weed seeds come in abundance and from many sources while also having the ability to lay dormant in the soil for years before germinating. When actively growing, weeds produce thousands of seeds per plant and disperse them throughout the season. Some weeds like dandelions are spread with a little help from the wind. Other sources of weeds include poor quality grass seed purchased from the store and soils brought in for new plantings.
Types of weeds
There are three different types of weeds in every lawn and landscape bed. All can be controlled; however, some are easier than others.
- Annual Weeds. These types of weeds spread by setting seed, germinating and growing for one season then dying off on their own at the end of their life cycle. These would include hairy bittercress, oxalis, groundsel and chickweed.
- Biennial Weeds. Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle. In the first year a seed germinates and produces a leafy plant. The following year, the plant flowers to produce seeds that then restart the new life cycle of the plant seed. These would include clover, wild carrot and prickly lettuce.
- Perennial Weeds. These types of weeds grow for multiple seasons and spread by both setting seed and/or through their root system. These include dandelion, thistle and ground ivy.
How to kill weeds in the lawn
There are many ways to control or reduce weeds in a lawn. One option is to apply a preventative pre-emergent control; however, there is currently no single product that covers the entire spectrum of broadleaf weeds. Most commonly used are post-emergent herbicides when controlling weeds in a lawn or landscape.
Selective herbicides are another way to get rid of weeds in a lawn. The most widely used selective herbicides work by disrupting chemical processes happening inside the weeds. The herbicide mimics a natural plant chemical that stimulates uncontrollable growth. The weeds’ growth happens quicker than the plant can handle and dies.
Other selective herbicides target photosynthesis; the process in which plants produce energy/food from the sunlight it receives. By blocking the photosynthesis process, the weed basically starves to death.
There are also non-selective herbicides that target enzymes in the plant’s cells. The herbicide disrupts the sequence of chemical reactions and produces toxic compounds within the plant causing it to die off. A type of non-selective herbicide is the chemical called glyphosate, commonly known as “Round-Up.” A non-selective herbicide kills off any foliage that was sprayed. This type of product should be used with caution to reduce damaging desirable turf species and ornamental plants and grasses.
The natural way to get rid of weeds in your lawn is to hand pick them out. On smaller size lawns and mulch beds this is an effective way to control a small number of weeds. If you can pick the annual weeds before they flower and produce seed, you can aid in reducing the number of weeds that regrow. Keep in mind, weeds have roots that grow underground, hand pulling tears off the top foliage but the plant’s roots are left behind which can then regrow the plant. You need to remove all the roots to be successful and this is a difficult way to achieve it.
Cultural practices also play a key role in creating a more weed free lawn. Following these simple steps helps your lawn to be the healthiest it can be.
- Keep your lawn dense. By having a thick, full lawn you essentially help “crowd out” the weeds. Weeds grow when there is space for them and a thick lawn reduces available space for the weeds to grow in. Any bare or thin areas at the end of the season should be seeded in the early fall (September) of each year to thicken up the turf density.
- Fertilize regularly. Proper fertilization helps feed the lawn and keep it growing and healthy throughout the year.
- Mow regularly and keep the grass blades high. It is recommended that the grass be kept at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Remove the top 1/3 of the grass blade at a time per mowing. This helps shade the soil underneath the grass canopy, which in turn helps reduce weed growth. Mow when the lawn needs to be mowed. Do not mow just because the lawn gets cut every Wednesday. Also, avoid scalping of the lawn by driveways, walkways, patios etc. with a weed wacker or trimmer. If the edges get cut too short they die off, causing the grass to thin back creating bare soil and an opportunity for the weeds to grow in that area.
- Water properly. It is recommended a lawn with underground irrigation be watered 1- 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should be run for 4 hours per zone once per week both resulting in 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. Frequent and short watering causes a shallow root system that weakens the plants. Watering properly helps create a deeper, stronger root system in the lawn, which in turn creates a healthier lawn. To learn more about watering your lawn correctly, check out our watering blog.
- Core aerate every year. Core Aeration is a great process that can be done; however, it is a costly process, which is why we recommend at least every other year. Core aeration helps improve the root system of the grass plant which creates a stronger plant overall. It also helps reduce the thatch layer and keep it at an optimal level which aids in better air circulation, water and nutrient infiltration to the root zone. For more benefits on core aeration, see our core aeration blog post.
- Apply lime when the pH of the soil is low. Keeping the pH within the proper range (6.3 – 6.5) improves the availability of the nutrients in the soil making them more readily available to the grass plants. Here’s a great article on the benefits of applying lime to your lawn and having optimal pH levels.
Weeds are extremely opportunistic plants that can enter your lawn from a variety of different sources. The best way to reduce weeds is to have a healthy and dense lawn. That being said, not everyone has the perfect lawn and herbicides may be necessary to get rid of your weeds. Herbicides are a cost effective and not very labor-intensive way to keep your lawn and landscape weed free. If you are in our service area and have any questions about controlling weeds, please give our office a call.