John Potter

Start Weeding For Excellence

"Excellence is a continuous process and not accident" A. P.J Abdul Kalam

Photo Courtesy of domdeen via Freedigitalphotos.net


I'm honored to share this guest post from my friend John Potter the Executive Director from GRAPE GR

In business, the term Excellence refers to the “outstanding practices in managing the organization and achieving results, all based on a set of fundamental concepts or values”. Of course, the term also translates to how we practice the more mundane and tedious aspects of life. Most of us try to avoid doing those things that “waste” our time or that we just don’t enjoy doing. We procrastinate and make excuses. We forget that doing the mundane will actually get us to where we want to be.

Gardening is no different. So many gardeners want perfection in the landscape and start off the season with exuberance. In the garden even the most enthusiastic gardeners don’t practice that which will bring excellence. We need to water, we can’t neglect deadheading, and yes, we must consistently weed.

Landscape weeding is perhaps the least rewarding work performed by gardeners. Failure to weed however can leave plants susceptible to being choked out and weakened. So it’s not a chore to be shucked off as merely a cosmetic exercise. We plant our gardens to protect, nurture, and cheer their growth. The dreaded chore of weeding means taking the time to do it right (we all know what will happen when we forego getting the roots - a much larger weed to confront the next go around) and with frequency.

Unfortunately, weeding is also painstakingly tedious. However, doing it right and pacing ourselves prevents the weeds from engulfing the garden. Be steadfast and diligent in weeding and you will have success. It simply requires deploying the same methodological approach found in any serious pursuit of excellence. That is, a systematic approach that incorporates ongoing learning for improvement. You need to commit to the ongoing process of garden care and weeding or you may need to pay someone to help get you back on track. We all know what can happen when weeds such as Poison Ivy is allowed to flourish. In short, know what the pros know and do what they do like the professionals at Alfreso Landscapes.

Cultural Control

What does a systematic approach to weeding look like? It’s not simply an organized approach to pulling out weeds!

Take for instance what is called cultural control. The phrase denotes a systematic/learning approach to weed control that excludes herbicides. Unlike a “one practice fits all” scheme, this type of weeding requires ascertaining whether plants are annuals, biennials, or perennials (most notably because they have different root systems). You need to know what you are dealing with before taking action.

As such, it involves implementing specific weed control strategies. For instance, simply uprooting perennials risks allowing them to quickly re-establish themselves in moist soil. Best to wait for a dry spell. For those that are difficult to pull (like milkweed), cutting is best reserved for late summer when the plant’s life cycle has exhausted and before the pods release a multitude of seeds into the wind.

Likewise, the seeds of annual weeds are best taken care of in the early spring (before they germinate). For those that make it past the soil line, cutting them immediately and doing so if they regroup remains effective as the roots are weakened and gradually there will be minimal root strength left.

Understanding the biology of the weeds in question and what type of root system they threaten (annual, biennial, or perennial) takes some time and practice. You will learn from doing and from your failures. It also involves the ongoing-learning mentioned above. The end result is less costly and improves soil health. It will also make every homeowner’s life easier and the time in the yard much more enjoyable. Think of life as a garden and you will quickly learn to meander your way to success and excellence by your commitment and attention to that which will bring you to your end goal.

To grow excellence we need to get ahead of obstacles, not wait until they root. You can weed all season long however; being proactive in preventing weeds is a smarter approach. There are numerous natural and organic methods to prevent weeds. Everyday natural household products will kill weed seeds. Planting companion plants such as Mexican marigolds, legumes, and cover crops may offer effective weed control. The former is known for its herbicidal root secretions that kill weeds without harming most other plants. Cover crops not only enrich the soil but compete with weeds for water and soil nutrients. Being proactive will put you back on the path of creating excellence.

Like any pursuit of excellence, the journey is more important than the goal. With that in mind, it's important to view weed control as a continual, year round effort. Approach your own growth and the empowerment of others with a “gardeners” mind and get out there to dig up some excellence!