The moment I found out what that particularly green feathery weed in my yard was, it was war! RAGWEED! It was everywhere in our yard. The front, the back, the sides, underneath hollies in all the garden beds, and pretty much everywhere else you looked it was there. Like an alien entity overlooking our planet while planning its method of invasion. For several weeks I waged war on the plant with little success. I tried the non-toxic chemical method with vinegar leading the charge. It’s odoriferous scent attacked the invading invasive like a salad dressing on fire. Unfortunately it did little more than burn the tips of the leaves. Still the ragweed came on, seeking to ravage more land and destroy more of our faltering fescue lawn. The great arms of ragweed blotted out the sun from the blades of grass causing them to wither and die.
Beneath the aliens, bare ground was exposed, I had one recourse left without resorting to the nuclear bomb of gardening…ROUND UP. Before attempting the drastic measures and risking a botanical holocaust I had one more strategy: using mechanical means to decimate the diabolical weeds. This meant pulling up weeds by hand like a madman, which I did. The weeds could not stand against my attack. They were unceremoniously uprooted from their footholds and tossed into the heat of the summer sun to dry up and wither away. But this was not all! I had one more weapon up my sleeve. To prevent future uprisings and reprisals I had to prevent them from multiplying. They could not, would not come to seed! The whirling blades of ragweed death had to be used. I mowed and I mowed, anytime the weeds gained height they were taken down. I continued to pull weeds and push the mower until the weeds no longer had a hold on the yard. We fought and in the end the tide turned! Very few of the invaders remain, but I must remain vigilant. Their offspring may be waiting, lurking for the right moment to strike, but for now the battle is won.
OK so that was a bit silly but that’s what I did. Our yard suffered from several years of neglect before we bought the house. The homeowners before us rented the house out and the tenants did not keep up the place as they should have. Mowing ceased for at least 6 months or so allowing the weeds to grow unchecked through the yard. When I did my first mowing multiple bare spots were exposed where the ragweed (Ambrosian artemisiifolia) had taken over. Since they formed a small canopy of sorts over the ground, no grass could grow. Over the course of the past growing season I went through and pulled every ragweed sprout I could from the roots. Anytime I was near a ragweed in the yard it got pulled. That combined with regular mowing has brought the yard into a manageable state.
There are still a multitude of weeds in the yard, but the ragweed was by far the most destructive to our landscape. Aside from the bare spots and the visual scars left by the invasive weed, there were allergy concerns. When ragweed begins to pollinate people suffer from sneezing, coughing and other symptoms. Often people mistake goldenrod for ragweed. Goldenrod is insect pollinated and not wind pollinated so the pollen does not create allergy problems like the wind pollinated ragweed. Spot treating a yard with a chemical herbicide would probably be OK but I’d rather not go to that step. I do have to watch out for possible seedlings next year. The best defense against weeds in the yard is overseeding. By overseeding with a cool season grass in the fall you give the grass seed a chance to establish a good root system by spring. It will grow faster and healthier with an established root system and will help to crowd out the light from weed seedlings. Maybe this will help with your own War of the Weeds!