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Combat Weeds

illustration: dandelion

The first step in combating weeds to realize that they are merely misplaced wild plants—nature's way of promoting diversity and balance. In some cases, weeds are beneficial. Dandelions, for example, have very deep roots that bring leached nutrients up to the surface. Clover is a legume, a plant that captures free nitrogen from the atmosphere and shares it with grass. Because of these unique traits, both dandelions and clover can survive a harsh drought and stay green long after grass has turned brown.

Weeds can also be indicators of lawn problems, however. Crabgrass thrives in sandy soil that drains too quickly. And dandelions favor compacted soil that is slightly acidic. If you are plagued with a particular species of weed, save a sample for identification by a landscape professional or one of the City's Botanical Gardens. By remedying the factors that encourage weed growth, you can prevent or eliminate weed problems and improve the overall health of the soil ecosystem. To remove existing weeds, get to the root of the problem—that is, be sure to pull up the main root, sometimes called the tap root, to ensure that the plant doesn't grow back.

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