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weeds that grow in shade

Weeds that grow in shade

Perennial ground covers are often used as flowering plants that deter weeds.

Low growing, creeping shrubs are also used for dense plantings for weed control. Spreading junipers and mugo pines are often used to fill in large areas. Asian jasmine, Gro-low fragrant sumac, euonymus and cotoneaster also can cover a large area and suppress weed growth.

For shade- part shade, try some of these:

How to Stop Weeds Using Flowers

You gaze proudly at your newly planted flower bed that you’ve spent weeks creating. Every perfect plant that you selected grows tidily in its carefully planned out location. Then your eyes fall on little sprouts of green weeds popping up between your beautiful plants! Unfortunately, many times when we till the ground for new planting beds, we are also stirring up weed seeds that quickly germinate in regularly watered soil that is exposed to the sun. Now the choice is yours, head back to your local garden center for weed killing chemicals that could harm your wanted plants or purchase more plants to tuck into the open spaces for weed control.

In vegetable gardens, herbs can be tucked in the spaces around vegetable plants. Certain herbs can even benefit the flavor of the vegetable. For example, many people plant basil around tomato plants to improve the flavor of the tomatoes.

Dense Planting for Weed Control

In flower beds, small plants and ground covers can be used as eye-pleasing flowering plants that deter weeds. A thick mass planting of plants can control weeds by keeping direct sunlight off the soil, which often causes weed seeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients. Mass planting of flowering plants can also shade the soil, so less water and moisture is lost from evaporation.

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Farmers have always used cover crops (like peas, beans, soybeans, wheat and rye) to smother out pesky weeds and replace nutrients, like nitrogen, which can be leached from the soil by rains and waterings. In flower beds and home vegetable gardens, you can also use this method of dense planting for weed control.

Weeds that grow in shade

Canada thistle brings a thorny problem to any landscape where it appears. This prickly beast grows from seed that can blow into your yard, or it can sprout from root pieces, which sneak in with bulk topsoil or mulch loads. Size varies, with many mature plants reaching 5 to 8 feet tall. In a single season, one plant can produce a 20-foot-long root system, and it only takes one piece of root to produce a plant. Control through weeding, but dig carefully and deeply to get the horizontal root. After digging, if another sprout appears, pull it, too. Or use an herbicide. The best time to spray is as soon as leaves break ground. Spray repeatedly through the growing season, and you will eventually kill it.

The nightmare of dandelions is the deep taproot (up to 15 feet long) and puffball seedhead, which disperses seeds on every breeze. The best defense against dandelions in the lawn is growing thick, healthy turf, which means mowing at the right height and fertilizing correctly. In planting beds and paths, these familiar weeds tend to show up in the worst places, such as rooted in the center of a perennial clump or tucked right in the edge row of paving stones. The best ways to get rid of dandelions? Spray them or dig them. When spraying, kick dandelions a bit first to scuff and wound the leaves—it helps the spray penetrate better. With digging, make sure you get at least 2 inches of taproot or they’ll return as two plants.

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This annual weed thrives in shady areas with moist, fertile soil, but it’s adaptable and can also sprout in dry areas. Chickweed forms a low-growing crown of stems that spread and sprawl. In a planting bed, the stems crawl through perennials and annuals, showing up as far as 12 to 18 inches from the plant’s crown. In lawns, it usually shows up in thin grass with heavy, moist soil. For a small infestations, hand-pulling works fine. Try to get plants up before they set seed, which can number up to 800 per plant. For heavy infestations, look for herbicides that list chickweed. There is also a perennial chickweed that spreads by seed and stem or root pieces.


This weed grows in poor, wet, compacted soil (think heavy clay). When nutsedge arrives in your garden or lawn, left to its own devices, it can quickly take over, establishing a colony. It looks like a grassy weed, but it’s actually a sedge. The individual blades have a strong center rib and are triangular in shape—a shape you can feel and see. The worst thing about nutsedge is that it not only produces seed heads, but also forms small bulbs or nuts underground. You can pull a nutsedge plant and still leave a network of nuts in the soil, each one capable of generating a new plant. The best approach is to spray plants with an herbicide. For nutsedge that’s growing in lawn, be sure to choose a chemical that won’t kill grass. A popular chemical is Sedgehammer, and it usually kills nutsedge with one to two sprays.

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Got weeds? Learn how to identify common weeds, including tips on why they’re thriving and how to get them under control.


Braod-leaved dock appears harmless enough when the red-veined leaves pop through soil in early spring. What’s important to know is that this non-native weed has the capacity to produce 60,000 seeds per plant, with each seed able to remain alive (ready to germinate) in soil 80 years. This is one weed you do not want to set seed. Plants start out small, but grow up to 4 feet tall. Dock is a tap-rooted weed, and that weed reaches up to 4 feet deep into soil. Digging it out is mostly impossible. The best control is using herbicide or vinegar on the young leaves as soon as they appear. Scuff leaves a bit before spraying to ensure spray penetrates the leaf coating. Repeat spray as needed. The taproot can generate more leaves over time, but keep spraying. The root will eventually use all its stored energy and stop growing.

Native Americans called broadleaf plantain “white man’s foot,” because it seemed to appear everywhere white settlers went. Touted as a healthy backyard weed with various benefits, broadleaf plantain can create a small colony that resembles a ground cover if grass is thin and soil is dry and compacted. Hand pulling this weed is an effective solution, especially with small infestations. Plants have a fibrous root system and come up easily with a Three-Claw Garden Weeder. Or spray plants with an herbicide any time they are actively growing.