Weed this way? Focus.

I tried an experiment this past weekend, one that was not particularly pleasant. Remember the bittercress that I photographed recently? I worry about this weed more than any other in my yard, as the ripe seed pods literally explode when touched, flinging tiny seeds in a 6-foot (2m) radius or more.

I've not been diligent with pulling these weeds for the last couple of years, and they go to seed long before I'm ready to start mowing, and I saw a big increase in the number of these petite white flowers all over the place this year. So I got myself motivated for some weed pulling.


My usual weeding strategy is to focus on a bed and remove every unwanted plant, regardless of variety. This time though, I wanted to focus only on bittercress. I knew that if I went bed-by-bed I'd never finish removing these before they started exploding, and besides, most of these are in the lawn not in a planting bed.

So I had to change my strategy. For the first time ever, I was going to eradicate ever single specimen of a single type of weed from my yard at one time!

So I spent an afternoon combing my yard for bittercress, pulling it out by the handfulls when I found it. This started out being great fun, a very satisfying experience.

After 30 minutes or so, it became tedious. This is the point at which I usually stop weeding, but there was much more ground to cover. The thought of the exploding seed pods kept me going.

Two hours later, I was finished:

I should mention that one reason I wanted to focus on a single species was curiosity: I really wondered how much bittercress was growing in my yard.

Would I use this focus-on-a-single-species method of weeding again? I don't think so. Although it was nice to be able to concentrate on just one type of weed it was very inefficient, as I'll have to go back over pretty much every planting bed again to remove the other weeds.

I did learn how much bittercress I had though: some of my UK gardening friends would call it a "shedload", although a less polite term comes to my mind.

Hopefully this effort makes a noticeable difference in the amount of this weed I see next year.

Have you ever been so focused on eradicating a single species before?


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Lisa  – (April 16, 2013 at 8:42 AM)  

I had a weed that was in a particular area of my garden that drove me to distraction. I don't know what it is, but it was sold to me by a local nursery as "wild geranium". So yes, I actually planted it! Don't ask - I was a young gardener!

Anyway, it wasn't a geranium, but it sure was wild. It took over one whole corner of my garden, to the exclusion of any other kind of weed. The more I dug, the more it spread. No flowers or seeds on this one - strictly underground spreading. So last year I completely dug the whole corner out and got rid of everything that was there. I didn't even dare transplant anything that I took out for fear of contaminating another part of the garden. And I'm happy to say that, 23 years later, it's mostly gone. I still find a sprig or two trying to poke it's nasty head out but I'm wise to it's ways and get rid of it before it gets a chance to settle in.

I do have to admit that I briefly considered moving instead of trying to deal with it. But my husband said no.

Thankfully, I've never seen or heard of bittercress. But you have more than enough for all of us I think!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM)  

That's an amazingly large pile of bittercress! I assume it's relatively easy to pull out?

My nemesis is oxalis. It's everywhere, flowers non-stop, and is impossible to pull out by hand because its tiny bulbs remain in the ground and simply sprout more oxalis.

Cassidy  – (April 16, 2013 at 12:58 PM)  

Wow! That is a lot of dedication. I'll be interested to see what the garden looks like after all this was removed!

Steve Lau  – (April 16, 2013 at 5:19 PM)  

I like waiting until weeds get nice and big so I could use them as fertilizer, especially the milk weeks, dandelions or other tap root weeds which have the most nutrients.

Katie M  – (April 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM)  

We get that one in the nursery, it's a right pain!
In my own garden I'm bent on eradicating the soursobs (Oxalis pes-caprae), like Gerhard ^^. Unfortunately it really is one of the ones I have to spray (the only thing I spray, in fact) as it's got lots of tiny little bulbs which get left behind if you pull the plant out. If I let it go my backyard would get completely out of hand in a couple of years.

Renee  – (April 16, 2013 at 10:48 PM)  

Bermuda grass. I hate that stuff. I usually end up doing a couple of massive sessions to dig it out of a specific bed.

Barbie  – (April 17, 2013 at 9:01 AM)  

A job well done!! Total dedication, is all I can say!

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