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Garden weeds can be a real problem. Here is a quick guide on the three most troublesome.

Horsetail or Marestail

   equisetum arvense

This is one of the most difficult weeds to eradicatein the garden situation. Once spotted it is important to go to work immediately to eradicate it. A perennial weed which grows in a wide variety of places from, boggy ground to sand dunes. It has two types of growth, in spring brown asparagus type shoots appear with cones at the tips and these produce spores. Later the more familiar thin green, branched stems appear and these remain until winter. Both are produced from creeping underground rhizomes which go down about 1.5 metres.

It is resistant to most weed killers, but Glyphosate may have some success after repeated treatment. The best way to do this is to crush the stems and break the waxy surface and then applying Glyphosate in the form of round up with a paint brush. Glyphosate has the advantage of keeping the plant alive whilst the chemical travels from one cell to another before killing it. Persistant applications will kill it after five months.

Hedge and Field Bindweed 

Calystegia sepium and Convolvulus arvensis

Bindweed is a difficult plant to control, however with the use of Glyphosate it is possible to erradicate it fairly quickly.

It's a climbing herbaceous perennial, spreading by creeping underground stems, which root readily into virgin soil. Before the use of chemicals such as glyphosate digging it out is the best way to control it. The main problem with this method is that every small piece of root left turns into a new plant. With the roots being brittle it is almost impossible to remove the entire root, so the inevitable after a short period of time the problem will return, only twice the size. As with the horsetail it is best to apply glyphosate with a small brush directly to the leaves. Unlike the horsetail it should only take one or two applications to control the weed.

Other methods include hoeing repeatedly to exhaust the bindweed as the the new stems appear. The two different types of bindweed are self explanitory. One is more inclined to climb than the other but the control measures are the same.

Couch grass

Agropyrum repens, syn, Elymus repens

The most common of our difficult weeds is the couch grass which is a perennial grass with creeping underground stems with small fibrous roots at every joint.

You can find couch grass in most gardens, under hedges or at the back of borders. It's not a major problem until it becomes unchecked. Then over a period of time it takes a firm grip and starts to spread rampantly.

On large areas containing couch or in between shrubs its best to roughly dig out. Then allow the remaining shoots to re shoot and then spray with glyphosate and allow the systematic action to kill the couch over a period of about 6 weeks. As with bindweed two applications may be needed.

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