by Kathryn Courtney
WEEDS! One of the most detested words in a gardeners vocabulary. There are many ways to get rid of weeds. Some methods are good and beneficial for your yard and garden. Some methods are not good and are harmful to your garden and your health. The products containing Glyphosate have been in the news lately for carcinogenic effects. Glyphosate is found in nonselective weed killers so read labels before purchasing any of these products. Another problem chemical is Atrazine which is found in “weed and feed” type products. Atrazine is bad for trees, shrubs and your pets. Health problems have also been associated with this chemical. Be sure to read all warning labels on these weed killers. The warnings alone on weed and fertilizer combinations should discourage you from the purchase.
Now that I’m finished with the doom and gloom part of this article,here comes the good news. There are many organic ways to deter weeds in your lawn and garden. The secret to keeping a healthy lawn is healthy soil. With healthy soil you have healthy grass which will choke out most weeds. Organic fertilizers work by feeding the organisms in your soil which in turn feeds the grass. A good healthy patch of St. Augustine grass will annihilate almost any weed. Mowing your yard before weeds go to seed will prevent weeds the next year. A pre-emergent such as corn gluten will also keep seeds from germinating in the yard. Stubborn weeds in the lawn can be treated with agricultural vinegar. This vinegar is much stronger than regular household vinegar and should be treated as a corrosive chemical. It can be used as you would use a nonselective herbicide meaning that it will kill everything. Read the directions carefully with agricultural vinegar. We have other spot weed killers with active ingredients such as citric acid and soaps of fatty acids. Crabgrass can be killed with an organic crabgrass killer. Our crabgrass killer has cinnamon as the main ingredient. This product will kill Crabgrass,chickweed,clover and other similar weeds without harming your grass. One last selective weed killer is agricultural molasses. This product is very successful at killing nut sedges and related weeds. As a side note, if your lawn has chinch bugs, an organic solution to this problem is Spinosad. This is a liquid that can be sprayed on the infected spots in your yard.
To kill weeds in hard to reach spots such as cracks and spaces in sidewalks and walkways use boiling water. If the weed is young this will kill both weed and root. If it’s an established weed it may take more than one application. There are also flame weeders that actually burn the weeds with fire. Use this tool only around concrete or rock. It would be very bad to burn down your neighborhood! Garden knives are also a useful tool for cracks and crevices if you prefer manual weeding.
All the methods mentioned above will work for your gardens. If you are planting seed directly in the garden do not use pre-emergents as these will keep your seed from germinating. Starting a new garden usually requires killing a spot of grass. Cover the garden spot with cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper and secure the edges with rock or garden staples. Leave this cover on for 1 to 3 months. This will kill the growing grass and weeds. After removing the cover, add your garden soil, compost and then mulch. The mulch will help with any germinating seeds that might come up. If some weeds make it through these barriers, hand pull them. They should come up easily. Weeding my garden beds by hand is very therapeutic for me. You can take a lot of frustrations out on weeds. In vegetable beds hand weeding is best because what goes in the garden also goes in your veggies. Hand weeding gives you time to check your plants for bugs or fungus and stop the problems before they get out of hand.
If you have a weed problem come see us here at the shop. We can help you solve it without harming your yard or plants. With time and patience an organic yard is healthier and requires less maintenance than synthetic chemically treated yards. Organic methods are also better for you, your kids and pets and the earth itself.