Is it a weed or not? That's a matter of opinion.
The classic definition of a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place, and that place may be your lawn, vegetable garden or flower bd, or even between the flagstones on your patio.
For an individual plant, it depends.
A violet can be grown as a cherished flower, could be grown in the herb patch and crystallized as a cake decoration, is a pretty wild flower in the woods, but in the lawn it is definitely a weed. As the real estate people tell us, location is everything.
Several garden flowers are included in the weed books, including golden rod, morning glory, spiderwort and evening primrose.
Grass is planted, nurtured and fed in the lawn, but needs to be dug out from cracks in the sidewalk.
Some weeds brook no discussion, however. Dandelions, henbit, shepherd's purse, dock, Creeping Charlie, chickweed, poison ivy and the omnipresent wild onion and garlic are unmistakenly unwelcome weedy invaders.
I was amazed to see in an upscale decorating magazine a suggestion that Creeping Charlie, also called Gill-over-the-ground, should be grown in a container as a house plant. I am sure it would drape becomingly down the sides of the pot, but I would be afraid it soon would spread all over the house.
Wild flowers such as Queen Anne's Lace, chicory, poppies, daisies, buttercups and clover can be admired in field and forest, but must expect to be ripped out should they stray into the garden.
All gardeners expect to spend a large portion of their time dealing with weeds in one way or another. One can spend a fortune on sprays and granules designed to kill lawn weeds or one can choose to spend hours on hands and knees digging out the invaders.
Commercial preparations for lawn care are readily available, but the consumer must be sure to read the directions. Often printed in small type, and easily obscured by mud and spilled solution, they nevertheless must be read carefully and obeyed to the letter to avoid harm to children, animals and other plants.
Anyone using herbicides for a commercial or state enterprise must undergo rigorous training, which is updated regularly, and homeowners need to be equally careful.
Herbicides come in a variety of types. Some are designed for broad-leaf weeds in lawns, some for grass-like weeds. Liquids attack leaves and then filter down to the roots, while granules are watered directly down to the root system. Some are pre-emergent; others are post-emergent.
Small spray containers are designed to attack the most stubborn weeds, such as clumps of crabgrass or the stubborn Canada thistle that are difficult to dig out completely and must be targeted individually.
I find the best way to deal with weeds in my garden is with a simple tool. I have various dandelion diggers, a Japanese weeding knife, etc., but I always go back to the old, battered steak knife that serves me so well. Just a few strokes of the sharpening steel keeps it in prime condition. The only hazard is the one shared by all my hand tools; they are apt to disappear.
Finally, to weed properly I need to kneel. A hoe just
does not do the job for me - I need to battle the enemy face to face.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.