Dealing with annual and perennial weeds

Discover the different methods for dealing with annual and perennial weeds, in Alan Titchmarsh's short video guide.

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Annual and perennial weeds have differing life cycles, and should be dealt with differently, too. Find out how to distinguish between these two types of weed and pick up tips on tackling them, in Alan Titchmarsh’s practical video. Browse our extensive collection of advice on dealing with annual and perennial weed species.

Dealing with annual and perennial weeds: transcript

There are two main different kinds of weeds in your garden and it’s as well to know the difference between them. The first type are the annuals which come up one year, seed and then die. The second lot are the perennials, which are indeed, a perennial nuisance. They come up every year, generally spreading by means of
fat, underground roots that last for years on end.

Annuals are things like this – hairy bittercress. It’s often called the garden centre weed because you’l find it in pots that you buy in most garden centres. Sorry garden centres, but you do. And they will pull up. Just to show you – there’s nothing enormous there or fat, apart from the word, in the way of root. The same is true of groundsel, this weed here. Again, leave those on the surface of the soil if you want and they will actually die away. But, if you don’t pull them out and you leave them to carry on, their way of perennating themselves is by seed. They will sprinkle seed everywhere.
There’s a famous old saying, ‘one year’s seed, seven years’ weed’. They really will carry on. Pull them out, pop them on the compost heap before they seed.

But then, there are perennials like the dandelion, the nettle and buttercup. Now buttercup spreads not only by thickish roots, but also by runners that it sends out, a bit like a strawberry plant. That needs to come out completely and take these roots out because they too might have buds on them. And the dandelion has an enormous long tap root. That is what is going to carry on. Break that top off, or just hoe it off, that root will send up another shoot. So it’s important with all these thick-rooted weeds that they come out completely, that you don’t compost them. Because if you put the compost back on the garden and it hasn’t heated up enough, you’re just reintroducing the weeds.

So the annuals, get rid of them before they seed. The perennials, get those roots right out of the ground. And then, all the plants you want to grow will have a much easier time.