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Common chickweed: Common chickweed is a mat-forming weed with tiny, star-shaped white flowers. This annual thrives when conditions are cool and moist. Mouse-ear chickweed is similar, however, this weed is perennial with hairy stems and leaves, and is more tolerant of summer heat.

Dandelions: Dandelions are well known in many lawns and gardens– their fuzzy yellow blooms popping up nearly anywhere. While their deep taproots make them difficult to control, they generally spread through their easily recognized white, fluffy seedheads.

In order to identify weed types and bring them under control, it’s important to understand how they grow. Like other plants, weeds can be annual or perennial. Annual weeds are less troublesome as far as control measures go. While they are known to sprout up nearly anywhere due to seed dispersal, their root systems are relatively shallow. This makes them easy to pull and eradicate, although doing so before they set seed is recommended.

How to Identify Weed Types

Ragweed: Ragweed is commonly known by many allergy sufferers. This annual weed can be seen most often during summer (and autumn) months and recognized by its fern-like foliage.

One of the best ways to identify lawn weeds is by looking closely at the soil in your landscape. Many common lawn weeds can be found growing in certain types of soil, making this an excellent way to identify specific types you may have growing in your landscape. Here are some of the most commonly seen weeds:

Common nettle: This is prolific in soil that borders gardens and open fields. This perennial weed has many varieties, including stinging nettle. While it may look like an ordinary, hairy weed with attractive little flowers, it can cause a very painful sting if you touch it. Nettles can often be aggressive spreaders, with creeping roots.

Weeds are a common occurrence in most lawns and gardens. While many of them are quite familiar, there may be some that are not. Learning about some of the most common types of weeds can make it easier to eliminate them from the landscape.

JP: In my job at Royal Botanical Gardens, I'm always working with the scientific binomial names of plants and I love the scientific names of a bunch of weeds. Medicago lupilina commonly known as Black Medic for example, is a common weed in lawns and gardens and I just love the way it rolls off the tongue.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is one of the most common garden weeds and you'll also find it creeping along the cracks of your driveway and between your interlocking brick work. This 'annual' weed whose origins are debated features fleshy, flat reddish-green leaves which creep along the soil on thick prostrate stems and small yellow flowers which open only on bright sunny mornings. The fleshy leaves and stems are basically organs for water and nutrient storage which can give them an advantage in dry soil and drought conditions and help them tolerate compacted soils. The fleshy nature of purslane enables it to continue to flower and produce seeds for several days after being pulled and it is important to get every part of the root removed as it will re-establish quite effectively from even a small portion of root remaining in the soil. Just like dandelion, this species has a long ethnobotanical history and is becoming popular once again in the culinary world.

JP: Yes, people are probably too touchy about weeds. Our need for perfection leads to an intolerance of weeds. Some weeds add benefit to our gardens and ecosystems so it's important to be informed and know what to yank and what may be worth leaving alone. That being said, we do need to be careful to not let things get out of control.

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I'm lucky. I get to spend most mornings strolling through my garden, coffee in hand, admiring my plants and pulling weeds that dare to raise their unwelcome heads. I find that weeding regularly makes gardening less of a chore and it's an effective way to stretch a little before breakfast as well.

JP: Weeds can tell you a lot about your soil because all plant species prefer specific environmental conditions in order to thrive. Does the soil have too little nitrogen or is it eroded or too compacted? Spotting weeds that signal these issues can help you make helpful changes such as tilling and/or adding organic matter. Some 'weeds' such as Goldenrod (Solidago species) and Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) are native species which support Canada's pollinating insects and birds and contribute to the ecosystem. Milkweed (Asclepias species), for example, provides a nursery for the offspring of Monarch butterflies. Also, Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is also considered a weed but can be beneficial in that it attracts predatory wasps, flies and lady beetles which prey on garden pests such as aphids.

JP: There isn't one solution for dealing with every weed. The most important thing is to properly identify the weed in order to figure out the best method(s) of control and to check which pest control products are legal to use in the province you live in. Knowing the identification of the weed will allow you to learn about the lifecycle and therefore when/how to best use your control methods. Often multiple methods of control will need to be used over a number of years in order to get a handle on the problem.

Do you have a good tip for reducing weeds? Tell us about it in the comments below.

The SK PCAP Partnership recognizes the importance of partnerships beyond Saskatchewan borders including within Canada and internationally, as this allows for consultation on common issues and sharing of resources, experiences and solutions for best practices. The PCAP Partnership liases with the Alberta Prairie Conservation Forum, Alliance for the Grasslands – Initiative for the Conservation of the South American Southern Cone Grasslands in Argentina, Carolinian Canada Coalition in Ontario, Conservation of Grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert (ECOPAD) in Chihuahua, Mexico (was modelled on PCAP) ECOPAD 2007 (English on Page 6), the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia, the Grassland Foundation in Nebraska, US, the Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative (TGCI) and the Transboundary Grasslands Partnership.

The Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan
(SK PCAP)
Partnership brings together 30 agencies and organizations representing producers, industry, provincial & federal governments, environmental non-government organizations, research and educational institutions working towards a common vision of prairie and species at risk conservation in Saskatchewan. The SK PCAP Partnership has proven to be an important forum for guiding conservation and management efforts within Saskatchewan's Prairie Ecozone as it:

Partners work with a diverse mix of stakeholders to deliver conservation activities, benefiting the cultural, economic & ecological fabric of Saskatchewan. New partners & stakeholders are invited to join the Partnership on an annual basis. Key and unique to this partnership is the collaboration with the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA), a non-profit entity, that provides a Chair and a Representative to the Partnership as a means to recognize the critical importance of the ranching community to the conservation of native prairie, and to emphasize how central the concept of a working landscape is to the vision of the PCAP Partnership. A number of the Partners provide financial or in-kind contributions toward the PCAP administration and all of them contribute to the realization of the Partnership objectives.

A Sustainable Partnership

Following the completion of the 2014-2018 PCAP Framework, SK PCAP's fourth consecutive plan, the 2019-2023 PCAP Framework was revealed during 2019 Native Prairie Appreciation Week. This 5-year Framework is a long-term plan for action upon which Annual Workplans are built. The framework incorporates SK PCAP's Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles for the Partnership. Focus groups develop, implement and report/revise on deliverables outlined in the Annual Workplans, with the SK PCAP Manager facilitating the activities under the Framework.