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A New Way to ID the Weeds in Your Garden, Courtesy of UC Davis

By on March 07, 2011

weed control, weed ID

You know the old saying, “A weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place.” Many plants growing in the wrong places in your garden?

Finding out the names and habits of those interlopers will help you decide how to attack.

UC Davis has a dandy new online service with two detectives to assist you

The  UC Davis Weed Research & Information Center hosts the Weed ID Tool— a series of questions to help you figure out the name of the culprit lurking in your garden. The only drawback is that the ID Tool works best when the weed is flowering, but you can make headway even without a flower.

There’s a video on the UC Davis site that explains how the Weed ID Tool works (photo above is the opening shot).

If you’re pretty sure you know the scientific or common name already, enter it into their other search option, the Weed Selector Tool, and you will be shown photos of the plant.

Once you know the weed’s name, you can find out if you’re dealing with:

*annual grass (like crabgrass)

*perennial grass (bermuda grass is one)

*annual broadleaf (such as spotted spurge, the denizen of many gardens)

*perennial broadleaf (our old friend the dandelion, for instance)

With annuals you want to keep seeds from producing, and with perennials you want to destroy the root system.

Our organic weed control video and our post on organic weed control explain different methods for eradicating annual and perennial weeds.

  Comments (2)


I was wondering if you can tell me what Organic weed killer or other method to permantly remove johnson grass out of my veggie garden without killing off my veggies I have tried digging out by the roots and weed killers with no luck

Posted by Randy Ketner on Apr. 05, 2015 at 6:21:10 AM

Here is a reply in a previous blog about Johnson grass, “Unfortunately Johnson grass is a perennial weed that reproduces from underground stems (it also reproduces by seed so make sure to never let the grass mature that far)  so as you know it’s difficult to control! Any cover crop you grow to compete against it should not be tilled in rather mowed and cut on the surface.  If you till into Johnson grass new roots and shoots will form from the pieces of underground rhizomes exacerbating the problem.  Alfalfa is a good choice for competition.”

Organic weed killers will only kill on contact of the leaves of the weed and will therefore not translocate into the rhizomes of the plant. Have you tried solarizing? You may need to leave areas in your garden fallow during this time. Also try to knock down the weeds before they go to seed, this will help a little, but not with established plants.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Apr. 09, 2015 at 11:19:12 AM

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