We have good soil in Harbord Village, and weeds know it. Gardener Nicole Schulman offers advice on recognizing and dealing with common weeds. She notes:
Technically the definition of a weed is an unwanted plant, so anything can be a weed if it’s in the wrong place. That said, we generally refer to plants that are tough self-spreaders as weeds because they tend to appear where we did not put them. These are some of the most common “weeds” in our neighbourhood.
(Click on any photo to start a slide show with larger-size images.)
VIOLET: Not necessarily a weed (see the pretty purple flower), but can take over areas where it is not wanted.
UNKNOWN? but super common.
COLTSFOOT: It’s super common.
CREEPING BELLFLOWER: Very common.
GROUND IVY (?): This is low, spreading, and very common.
GOUTWEED or BISHOP’S WEED: Not necessarily a weed, but often becomes one. People plant the variegated form, which can be pretty, but it spreads like mad and chokes out everything else and is extremely hard to eradicate.
PLANTAIN (before flowering): Common on compacted soil, not hard to pull out.
BURDOCK: This gets truly massive and has a deep taproot, so it’s good to get it early. The seedheads are burrs (bur-dock), utterly miserable for dogs; behead it before flowering, anywhere you see it.
GOLDENROD: Easy to mistake for Phlox, and not inevitably a weed, but a prolific self-seeder. Yellow plume of flower late in the summer. Easy to pull out.
GARLIC MUSTARD: Note the leaf shape and the little white flowers. Not very hard to pull, but prolific in neglected spaces.
CANADA THISTLE: Easily identifiable by the bluish green colour and the SPIKES (pull out from the base, so as not to spike yourself). A perennial with a deep traveling root; a noxious weed that takes persistent attention to eradicate.
DANDELION: Massive one, with no flowers yet. Surrounding it is some other kind of weed with similar leaf form but white flowers on a stalk.
SIBERIAN ELM TREE: Elm trees aren’t weeds, but they self-sow like crazy and appear all over. They have a woody stem and serrated leaves. If they aren’t removed they will become shrubs, and then trees. Remove them.
WEED TREE or TREE OF HEAVEN (or Hell!): This is a young Ailanthus. It will grow into a large tree if left unchecked. It spreads both by seed and underground. Caught early, it is easy to pull out, but once it gets woody is difficult to remove (and it will be a tree in two years).