by Pat Newman, landscapeanswers.net
Among knowledgeable plant people, it’s said that a “weed” is whatever you don’t want to be growing where it’s growing. That leaves a lot of room for differences in perception of what constitutes a “weed problem.” Even so, many of my clients want a fresh start, a relief from weeds in their beds or their lawns. This can be as large a project as you wish. Done well, it will give you a clear palate on which to paint your new landscape or better enjoy your old. Below are several methods.
PULL OUT THE ROOTS
Soak the area first, or wait until after a rain. With wet soil, you have a greater chance of getting out the whole root of the weed, instead of breaking it off.
Use your hands, held close to the ground, to grab the weed at its base, and pull!
Or you can use a pitchfork, shovel, pickaxe, hoe or hand tool to turn over the soil, loosening it for easy weed removal.
SMOTHER THE WEEDS – takes 2 months to a year
Cut off the supply of sunshine and possibly water using any of several biodegradable materials:
Cardboard, newspaper, overlapped, tacked down
Landscape fabric (biodegradable only over a long period, if at all)
Thickly packed soil, sand or rock
Thick black plastic (3mil), overlapped, tacked down
Applied properly, any of these will heat the soil as well as deprive the weeds of light.
Warning: the heat could kill off beneficial organisms that make soil a welcoming medium for plants of all kinds.
RENT A MANUAL OR MOTORIZED ROTOTILLER FOR A LARGE AREA
Trash the weeds you dig up, or they will sprout again.
Rototilling offers an opportunity to mix in fairly easily any soil conditioners, fertilizers or such that you might want to incorporate to improve the soil for your next planting in that location.
CUT AND REMOVE SOD PIECES where desired – for WEEDS IN LAWNS
If you just can’t live with a lawn that is green but not pure grass:
Dig out weeds with tap roots, like dandelion, first. (Check out the dandelion tool at your nursery.)
Using a straight-edge spade or sod cutter, dig down 2+” and remove strips of grass, with roots attached.
Replace the formerly weedy lawn areas with other plants or sod or grass seed.
SPOT WEEDING, ESPECIALLY IN CRACKS
Spray with white vinegar. Simple!
The area may re-sprout, but it’s easy to re-spray when that happens.
POISON ,such as Diphosate (RoundUp)
A last resort! Know the consequences and apply it very carefully.
Be sure there is no breeze. My foreman put a Dixie cup around the sprayer nozzle to keep the spray focused narrowly on the weeds only.
Spray lightly the tops of leaves. You don’t need to saturate the plant. The weed plants should wilt and die within days. (Unfortunately, so will the beneficial organisms in the soil beneath the sprayed area.)
NOTE: More weeds will eventually be back! One of your best defenses against their proliferation is to plant desirable plants more closely together, where they will not only choke out weeds, but create a stunning massed effect. Where we now use a lot of mulch to try to keep down the weeds, we could change planting habits and accomplish an even more impenetrable weed barrier, at the same time creating a gorgeous landscape. But more on all that in later blogs……….