Farmers managing conventional systems have come to rely on herbicides almost exclusively as their means of weed control. In contrast to the big ‘one-hit’ of chemical control, however, organic systems must employ an ecological approach that uses a range cultural control options to exploit points of weakness in the weed life cycle. This has been described as the ‘many little hammers’ approach. Increasingly, these ideas are also being incorporated into conventional systems to combat the spread of herbicide resistance. Because of differences in the ecology and traits of different weed species, any given management scenario will select positively for some species and negatively for others. Using the example of wild oats, the important traits or characteristics of weeds in terms of identifying opportunities for control will be discussed in the context of developing sustainable weed management strategies.