Although not always a threat to other plants, weeds can be bothersome; some people have an aversion towards them as they associate their image with unkempt gardens. At times, weeds do consume nutrients destined for garden plants and prevent them from growing optimally. The reality remains most gardening enthusiasts choose to remove them and would prefer halting them from appearing altogether, if that could be done in a safe, non-toxic manner. The most common weed is the dandelion, which stands out through its bright yellow corolla and is considered unsightly on lawns, on paved alleys and between other plants.
Usually, weeds are manually removed, either by hand or with the aid of purposely designed implements, newer models featuring long handles with the purpose of saving people from constantly bending over, which could strain their backs. They are either cut or pulled out of the ground in order to remove their roots and delay the appearance of new ones. The typical tools used for weed removal are the following:
- Mechanical weed remover
- Weed torch
- Weed twister
- Radiant heat weed eliminator (suitable for pavements and other flat alleys).
Alternatively, another common method is securing a black plastic sheets over the affected areas and leaving them in place for a number of weeks, which results in weeds being killed by the greenhouse effect. Herbicides are also used, if they are safe to use around other plants such as vegetables, which are destined for human consumption. There are four types of herbicides:
- Contact herbicides
- Soil-borne herbicides
- Pre-emerging herbicides
- Systemic herbicides
The first category is likely to contaminate the soil and is not effective against perennial plants. Most herbicides are based on plant hormones which impede weeds from growing and spreading, and although used on an industrial scale, are not deemed the optimal solution for organic farming.