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What You Need to Know About Weeding

Any gardener worth their salt thinks they know about weeding, but it might not be as simple as they think. Weeding is a huge part of maintaining the look and health of your garden. When it comes to weeding, it’s important to be informed to minimize any risk to your garden. Weeding is a delicate process, and doing it wrong can hurt the plants you actually want in your garden. Even determining what plants are weeds is more difficult than many imagine. If you want to weed your garden of pesky plants, you should know how to identify a weed and how to correctly dispose of it.

It’s hard to say what plants are weeds and which ones aren’t. Technically, weeds are any plants that are undesirable in a given area. This means that trying to identify a weed is pretty subjective. Any plant can be a weed if you don’t want it on your lawn. Or, nothing is a weed if you embrace any plants that choose to make your garden their home. However, there are some plants that are often considered weeds by many people. 

Usually, people consider something a weed when it takes away resources from another, more desirable plant. Weeds typically fall into two categories: noxious and invasive. Noxious weeds are plants that can cause harm to the public or wildlife. Invasive weeds are non-native plants that might take too many resources away from native plants. Invasive plants usually lack limits on their growth in these new environments. Without any competitors, invasive plants can take over their environment, hurting many native plants. 


Bindweed, crabgrass, and dandelions are just a few of the many plants widely considered to be weeds in Illinois. Some of these weeds are considered undesirable because of their appearance or ability to grow on top of other plants. These weeds are not noxious or invasive, but they can take away valuable resources from the plants you actually want in your garden

Illinois is also home to some more problematic weeds that are noxious and/or invasive. While we may not be able to cover every weed you may encounter, there are some that are especially annoying. Poison ivy is a noxious weed that most people are familiar with. It can cause an itchy rash when it comes in contact with your skin. Poison ivy can be removed by pulling it up from the root while wearing gloves. Herbicides may also work to kill the weed. 

Canada thistle, also known as creeping thistle, is another common weed that gardeners dread to find in their flower beds. Canada thistle is a very invasive weed that easily outcompetes other plants for resources. It can cause serious damage to the local ecosystem by taking up all of the natural resources.  Thistle is notoriously hard to remove. It can be killed with weed killers or herbicides. Glyphosate and vinegar are both popular herbicides for thistle. It can also be pulled out, however, it’s very important to remove the entire plant. If you don’t, you run the risk of the weed returning. 

Some weeds aren’t just annoying, they’re downright deadly. Bittersweet nightshade is a poisonous weed that can be found growing as a vine on plants in your garden. There are many different types of nightshade plants, but bittersweet nightshade is the most common in Illinois. This weed may be difficult to identify in its early stages, as it looks like a common vine. Once its flowers bloom, it’s much easier to spot. It has purple flowers. Some types of nightshade have black berries, but bittersweet nightshade has bright red fruit. 

Ingesting these berries can cause serious side effects, like dizziness, difficulty speaking, vomiting, and internal bleeding. It can even cause death in some situations. Because of how toxic they are, it’s very important to weed these plants. While most adults may know to avoid berries they aren’t familiar with, children and animals may not have the same common sense. 

Removing bittersweet nightshade is the best option when it comes to protecting children and wildlife from this toxic plant. Nightshade can be pulled out or dug up. While bittersweet nightshade is not toxic to the touch, it helps to wear gloves in order to avoid any possible exposure to toxins. 

Pulling Weeds

Pulling weeds is one of the most popular methods of weeding. It’s very useful in landscaping, as it reduces the chance of the plant returning. It also only targets the weed. While weed-killing herbicides are often designed to kill weeds, there’s a chance they may kill other plants instead. Many gardeners prefer not to use chemicals since they may injure other wildlife in the process. Occasionally, herbicides may drift away from their intended target and hurt other plants or animals. 

Pulling weeds out by their roots is one of the best ways to ensure that a weed won’t return any time soon. When you fail to remove the entire plant, there is a chance that it will simply grow back. It may also produce seeds, adding more weeds to your garden. 

How to Pull Weeds

It’s best to target weeds when they’re still young. Otherwise, they’re larger, with more established roots. You want to pull weeds when the soil is loose and wet. It makes it much easier to pull compared to dry or compacted soil. When pulling weeds, try to pull straight up. Pulling sideways or at an angle might not pull all of the plant out. 

Make sure you’re armed with the right supplies when weeding. Gloves and trowels can make the whole process a lot easier. If a plant is difficult to remove, digging it out with a trowel or cutting it up may also kill the weed. 

Weeding is a huge part of landscaping. Otherwise, weeds could cause serious damage to the appearance and health of your garden. In some cases, weeds can even be dangerous. Noxious and invasive weeds are significant problems for entire ecosystems. 

Now that you know how to rid your lawn of parasitic plants, you’re all set to take landscaping into your own, soil-covered hands. For bigger projects like mulch installation or residential landscaping, you can count on Arbeen Landscaping. Put the health of your lawn first by choosing Arbeen Landscaping. 

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