Southern Californian gardeners have to be able to deal with a constant threat of weeds that can destroy gardens and lawns if not properly controlled. The key to preventing and eliminating unwanted plants in San Diego is to first identify the plants. Proper identification early on can give gardeners the information they need to deal with the threat in the most effective manner.
The first step in identifying weeds is observation. Observe both visual clues on the plants, such as leaf shapes and flower colors, and the growth cycle of the plant. Weeds may be annual plants that grow for only a single season; biennial, which grow for two seasons; or perennial and survive for many years. Three categories of of weeds grow in San Diego: broadleaves, grasses and sedges.
San Diego is plagued with damaging weeds like goosegrass, johnsongrass and St. Augustine grass. These grasses take advantage of previous infestations, overwatering, mowing too short and weak grass root systems. They can quickly crowd out other plants on your property and steal important resources, further weakening your plants.
Broadleaf plants are categorized by their large leaves that usually grow in multiples. Common broadleaf plants such as dandelions, clovers and spurge have incredibly well developed root systems that make pulling by hand nearly impossible. Clifornia burclover and common knotweed are two annual broadleaves that often appear when nitrogen levels in the soil become depleted.
Sedge plants are grasslike plants that grow in wet environments. They have solid stems, narrow leaves and flower in groups known as spikelets. Green kyllinga and nutsedge are the two most common sedge plants in California. They are the most commonly misidentified plants when dealing with weed infestations. Be certain that you have properly identified the weed before starting any weed management treatments that can potentially harm your lawn or worsen the infestation.
Modern weed control technology focuses on prevention with proper gardening practices from the beginning. Keeping a healthy lawn, avoiding overwatering and using the right amounts of fertilizer can make it very difficult for weeds to grow in the lawn due to healthy, strong root systems in your grasses.
Where this is not enough, use herbicides and chemical pest removal systems. Pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides are effective and you can mix them in fertilizers to save time. Herbicides can be non-selective types that kill off any plant they come in contact with or selective ones which focus on removing specific weeds.
Follow all manufacturer's instructions when using chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Misuse of these products can cause irreparable harm to your garden, lawn or nearby environments and can even worsen the weed infestation problems.