Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weed Control

Last week I watched a gardener battling overgrown honeysuckle vines grown onto a privet hedge, through chain link fence, and even though cut back to their trunks were inextricably meshed with the fence. This occurred from years of neglect.

Weed control is key to having a handsome landscape. Gardens are lost in weeks, especially this time of year, without care. Keep weeds at bay.
Amur Honeysuckle

Lawn Weeds
Herbicides are very effective at controlling weeds, however they are toxic. Don’t use them around children, pets or edible plants. On sloping properties they will wash into rivers and streams, affecting the food chain. We have chosen to simply keep our lawn mowed and not treat with any toxic herbicides. When weeds are mowed as part of a lawn, they become part of the green carpet that is your turf.

The best weed control for turf is to maintain thick healthy grass through proper mowing, fertilizing and watering. Foot traffic, pets, rocks, low organic content in the soil, or shade can cause weed problems. Correct these situations by aerating or tilling the soil, amending with a layer of compost.

Many lawn weeds can be pulled by hand. Dandelions, when young and tender, are at their best for making wine and salads. If you use them, you might not have enough in your lawn, so get permission to harvest your neighbor’s lawn too.

Chicory roots can be pulverized for a coffee substitute and purslane is edible. The red, fleshy stems, thick succulent leaves and small yellow flowers of this plant can be eaten in salads or cooked.

NOTE: Before eating any weed, be sure to get a positive identification from a garden center, plant clinic, or Cooperative Extension Service. A thorough text on this subject is “Eat the Weeds” by Ben Charles Harris (Keats Publishing, 1995). Also check out Eat The Weeds and other things, too by Green Deane, Be certain any weed you eat has not been treated with herbicides or insecticides.
Kudzu or Porcelainberry

Weeds in Garden Beds
Best approach to weeds in planting beds – pull them when they’re young. That’s our preference. Every time you pass your beds, pluck some. Trees can begin as weeds and go unnoticed until they’re firmly rooted and difficult to pull.

If actively growing weeds are invasive, the most effective herbicide is glyphosate. This non-selective herbicide will kill any plant it contacts. Reportedly, it biodegrades quickly, and can safely be sprayed over roots of mature shade trees to control poison ivy, porcelainberry, or mile-a-minute weed. Read and follow labeled instructions, and apply glyphosate very carefully, even if it means putting it on weeds with a cotton swab or paintbrush. A gust of wind while you’re spraying could blow the spray onto ornamentals. I will only use glyphosate in extreme situations.
Nutsedge, Oxalis & Ground Ivy In Planting Bed
Vinegar has been approved by the EPA as a safe, non-toxic, non-selective weed killer. It burns and kills foliage it contacts. It’s very effective when weeds are saturated.

After you’ve gotten your weeds under control, apply Preen Organic (corn gluten) for a safe pre-emergent herbicide that will discourage weeds from germinating.

Information and advice on herbicides is available from:
• Environmental Protection Agency,
• Cooperative Extension System,

Mulch is a practical method of controlling weeds without using chemicals. Materials that can be laid in beds as protective coverings will reduce evaporation, prevent erosion and control weeds. Use compost, straw, salt hay, pine bark nuggets, shredded hardwood bark, shredded pine bark, wood chips, newspapers or landscape fabric. I prefer organic, partially composted materials.

Put a 1” veneer of your favorite ornamental mulch on top to provide a clean unified appearance in your garden.

©2012 Joel M. Lerner
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1 comment:

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