By Lisa Hilgenberg

Hot weather of summer can push unwanted weed growth in gardens and lawns

I’m Lisa Hilgenberg from Chicago Botanic Garden with some tips for controlling garden weeds.

Weeds are unwanted plants growing in the wrong place. They quickly form colonies that steal water, soil nutrients and sunlight from lawns, garden beds and crops. Hand pulling and hoeing are the most effective, safest and practical ways of removing weeds.

Using the right tool can make the job easier.  A long handled triangular scuffle hoe or circular stirrup hoe does the trick for pushing and pulling over large areas of weeds with short, fibrous root systems like crabgrass and chickweed.

Bindweed is best forked up when it first appears. Try to remove the spreading root easier done after a rain.

Pull weeds before they go to seed and with repeated pulling- weeds can be weakened. A serrated garden knife or dandelion digger is necessary to dig deep enough to remove tap rooted dandelions, thistles and dock. Be sure to wear your gloves when hand weeding.

Try smothering larger areas of weeds by laying down landscape fabric, spreading old newspapers, or using straw to shade the soil preventing weed seed from germinating.

Thick layer of mulch laid over a freshly weeded area can help keep weeds from reappearing.

Early intervention is important for catching weeds before they get out of control.  Keep an eye out for them, removing them when you first spot them. Focus on prevention.

Lisa Hilgenberg is the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden Horticulturist. She teaches classes for the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden and mentors interns from the Garden’s urban agriculture programs in the summer. Lisa draws on a rich family farming tradition, having spent many summers on her grandparents’ farms in Iowa and Minnesota. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @hilgenberg8.

Want more gardening tips?  You can read other online articles or listen to previous podcast episodes from WBBM Newsradio’s Gardening Tips segment.