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I’ve had a lot of customers looking for a chemical-free way to control weeds. It can be done. Here’s how!
Keep your lawn healthy by fertilizing, watering, and over-seeding in the fall. Mow high—taller grass can shade tiny weed seeds so they don’t get enough sun to germinate. To be really effective, get an analysis of your soil to find out exactly what nutrients, and how much, you need to add.
Water well the night before to soften the ground. It makes it easier. This is the safest way to control weeds in flower beds and around shrubs where using a spray could possibly damage nearby plants.
Boiling water poured around and over some of the toughest weeds will take care of the problem. I talked to a customer this week who says she took care of poison ivy this way.
Keep areas mulched at least two inches deep. For added protection, you can use newspaper, cardboards, or landscape fabric underneath.
A single dandelion seed head can produce up to 15,000 seeds in one year. By the way, when pulling up weed seed heads, do not compost. Toss them! A correctly maintained compost pile will eventually kill most seed heads, however, why take the chance.
There is some evidence that corn gluten used as a pre-emergent might help. Corn gluten doesn’t keep seeds from sprouting but it keeps seeds from developing root hairs to absorb water. It’s also a great source of nitrogen for your lawn. It does not kill weeds that are already there, however. Apply it when the forsythia in your area is blooming.
I have a friend who looks on dandelions in her lawn as food. She eats the greens and makes dandelion wine from the flowers.
My backyard is mostly clover and wild violets with a few dandelions here and there. They thrive in my moderately damp, shady, acidic soil. I never water, never feed, never mow. I could invest hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours to try to grow grass, but why?
If you do decide to use a chemical weed control, then do read the label carefully—even if you have used the product before. Keep in mind that a broad-leaf weed killer will kill ANYTHING that is not grass—if mist blows onto your azaleas or geraniums, it will, at the very least, cause damage. At worst, it will kill the plant.
Never apply on breezy days. Even an herbicide could possibly harm beneficial insects like butterflies or honeybees if sprayed directly on them, so it’s probably best to spray just before dark so they’ll have already gone home for the day.
Come see us if you have any questions about what to try. That’s why we’re here!