Weed control is the process of stopping weeds from taking over and killing your plants. The most basic method of controlling weeds is to pick them out by hand or by plowing, although there are many commercial herbicides on the market that do the job effectively. Weeds compete with crops and plants and can render the land unusable for planting. Some weeds are poisonous and have burrs, which can infect both the plants and any livestock that eats the weeds.
In a domestic garden, one way of performing weed control is to cover the ground with wet newspaper or sheets of black plastic and let it stay there for several weeks. These coverings prevent the sunlight from reaching the soil and the weeds, so it kills them. When you saturate the newspapers with water on a daily basis, this prevents any decomposition of dead plants underneath. After a few weeks, you can remove the newspaper or plastic and start planting your seeds or seedlings.
Another method is called the stale or bad seed technique. In this method, you cultivate the soil and allow the weeds to grow. Then you hoe the ground removing all the weeds. The key to using this method is to remove the weeds before they start to flower. If flowering has occurred, the seeds can fall to the ground or be carried by the wind and will start growing again.
The use of herbicides is a method used most often by farmers. Some of these chemical products kill the weeds on contact because they destroy the plant tissue. However, these fast-acting herbicides are ineffective against perennial weeds or those that grow from tubers. Systemic herbicides destroy a greater number of weeds because the chemical travels through more of the plant body. They do not leave any harmful residue in the soil, either. Soil-borne herbicides are tilled into the soil so that they attack the roots of the weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides are also applied to the soil and prevent the weeds from germinating.
In organic weed control, drip irrigation through rubber hoses brings the necessary water to the top of the plants, thus cutting off the water supply to the roots of the weeds. Machines are also used to till around planted areas to remove weeds.