Author Topic: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!  (Read 7152 times)

FrugalZony

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Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:20:34 PM »
So I have heard much about using highly concentrated Vinegar and Salt + Dish Soap or highly concentrater Vinegar + Orange oil on Weeds.

I have with some hired help spent a considerable amount of time over the last few days to pull all weeds in the backyard. Usually I do this twice a year and resist any effort by others who try weed killers.
My pets sometimes go in the backyard and I don't want to expose them to the chemicals and don't like to be exposed to them myself.

I was wondering if there's something I can do to prevent the weeds from coming back for a while, now that everything is neat and clean.

From what I read, the vinegar mix is to be used on the weed itself. But now as they have been plucked,
it does not make sense to drench the soil in vinegar I guess.

I am a terrible gardener, so I'd very much appreciate any input from you pros out there!!
Thank you!

MDM

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 06:35:03 PM »
For clarification: are these weeds in a yard (where you prefer grass), or in a garden (where you prefer vegetables/flowers/etc.)?

FrugalZony

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 07:01:50 PM »
For clarification: are these weeds in a yard (where you prefer grass), or in a garden (where you prefer vegetables/flowers/etc.)?

They are between landscaping rocks (I have zeroscape), but all of them are pulled now,
I just thought it would be good to do something to prevent them from coming up again,
after all the digging, things may have gotten stirred up and once it rains, they'll come back

iris lily

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 10:51:12 PM »
I get free wood chips from my city to use a mulch. Sure, you have to have a way to haul them, but that's what I do. Wood chips are the best. They are "natural" which I guess is important to you, and they eventually break down over time, feeding the soil. But for your purpose (and mine) they smother weeds, that's the purpose. 

Some weds will still come through the blanket of mulch, but it will be fewer and you can keep on top of them.

« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 10:52:57 PM by iris lily »

smalllife

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2014, 05:03:08 AM »
For a zeroscape you would have been best served by completely digging up the existing vegetation before adding the mulch, to remove any roots that can regrow.  I would wait and see what actually makes it through and then figuring out if vinegar, peppermint, etc. would work to discourage growth.  One or two seasons of thoughtful weeding will probably do just as much as dumping something on the mulch - the most natural weed remover of all.

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2014, 05:13:45 AM »
For clarification: are these weeds in a yard (where you prefer grass), or in a garden (where you prefer vegetables/flowers/etc.)?

They are between landscaping rocks (I have zeroscape), but all of them are pulled now,
I just thought it would be good to do something to prevent them from coming up again,
after all the digging, things may have gotten stirred up and once it rains, they'll come back

Last year I just used straight-up vinegar (not super-concentrated or anything) on the weeds that came up in my sidewalk and in the gravel between my stone pavers out back.  It works really, really well.  Of course, so will boiling water.  ;-)  Neither one will prevent new weeds from sprouting, so it's something you have to keep on top of.

Rural

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 05:56:18 AM »
In a zeroscape, you can easily kill off any weeds that start to reemerge without harsh chemicals; get a teakettle or something with a spout, and spend ten minutes a couple times a week pouring boiling water on them.

Edited because iPad thinks it can spell better than I can.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 06:04:13 AM »
Vinegar will break down naturally, so it is not going to cause long-term damage to your plants or soil.  It is a contact killer, so if the weeds are gone, there is no point in putting any vinegar there.  It is not always effective - last summer the poison ivy in my ditch just laughed at 20% acetic acid. It killed the leaves but not the roots, so all that happened was I got lots of new plants coming up from the roots.

Heat - boiling water works well, and so does a propane torch - you don't have to burn the plants, just give them enough heat that they shrivel.

Salt will stay in the soil longer but end up in the water table.  I know people who use it on their gravel driveways - driveways are hard to weed.

Mulch will still allow weeds to germinate, but most weed seeds need light, so if you have a deep mulch the seeds in the soil won't grow.  Seeds that get to the mulch will, but they will be easy to pull if you catch them fast.

Bottom line - "weeds" are plants that are good at colonizing disturbed soil, which is good in a natural environment, it prevents soil erosion and nutrient loss.  So if you don't want a plant in a place, you will have to keep weeding.  Also, most weeds are very good at making lots of seeds that live for many years (for example, fire-weed seeds live for 50-75 years), so never let them go to seed.

 

GuitarStv

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2014, 06:13:07 AM »
Rather than a chemical solution, you might find that a mechanical one works better.  If you move all the rocks out of the way, lay down some landscaping fabric, then put the rocks back on top the weeds will be unable to penetrate the landscaping fabric . . . this will usually last for 5 - 10 years.  (If you can see the fabric between the landscaping rocks, just take some black coloured wood chips and spread them in the cracks between the rocks.)

Pangolin

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2014, 06:15:26 AM »
I use a very strong baking soda solution to salinate the soil in sidewalk cracks. I do this one or two times a year and it is moderately effective. I still have to pull some weeds by hand. I might get a propane torch this year to deal with them with less effort.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2014, 06:35:42 AM »
Never tried it, but I have read that corn gluten is an effective pre-emergent.

FWIW, a pre-emergent herbicide like Preen or a soil sterilant like Sahara or RoundUp Extended Control are basically harmless to humans and pets. I was a pesticide applicator for years and those were some of the few chemicals I never had to worry about.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2014, 09:54:29 AM »
We have been Organic/Biodynamic farmers for a while now and our best weed control is mulch and pulling weeds.  Another Biodynamic weed control method is called "ashing".  This requires a bit more work.  Once the weeds go to seed, you burn the seeds in something like a tin can and create an ash.  Next you use a technique called "peppering" to spread the ashes on the spot that you would like to prevent weeds.  We have only used the biodynamic method to take care of noxious and invasive weeds.  I would suggest vinegar, hand pulling or boiling water for most weeds.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2014, 10:05:38 AM »
Re "ashing", is there a rationale for this?  I can see it would work because ashes are very alkaline, which would make the plants very unhappy, but I don't see why it specifically calls for the weed seeds.  Wood ash is a recommended application for too-acid soil, simply because it does raise the pH.  Nutrients are most available in a fairly neutral soil (6-7) so most plants will be happier.  In a lawn or garden, this gives your desired plants a chanced to outgrow the weeds.  In a bare area, this might not be so good, since the weeds would be thrilled  ;-)


FrugalZony

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2014, 11:55:35 AM »
Thank you all for your great answers!!

As I had mentioned, I usually use mechanical means, aka PULLING weeds and I keep pulling as they come back.
This year things got a bit out of hand, because I ignored them for too long and then there were more to deal with.

I am back to the point where everything is pulled and I can just keep up by pulling a bit here and there, but I was looking
for a natural way to prevent them from coming back.

Vinegar, boiling water, etc would be used, if the weeds were still there, but they have been dug up or pulled.

I understand the Mulch suggestion, but I just had a Termite problem and I have been told to avoid wood around the house,
so I don't get warm fuzzy feelings thinking of spreading wood chips all around the house.

I have heard about corn gluten, but never tried it. It sounds like that may be a good option, so we can delay weeds coming back.
Ashing sounds interesting, but we already hauled away everything we pulled, so nothing left to burn.

I have had the house for six years now and depite all the pulling, the weeds do come back regularly and get out of hand quickly.

Keep the ideas coming, I can really use some help, I don't know squat about these things. I just keep pulling and thought, there must be
some way to prevent the weeds in the first place.

Spork

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2014, 12:25:13 PM »
I understand the Mulch suggestion, but I just had a Termite problem and I have been told to avoid wood around the house,
so I don't get warm fuzzy feelings thinking of spreading wood chips all around the house.

I think if you use pine bark mulch you don't have this issue.  It doesn't have the cellulose content of hardwood mulches. 

whiskeyjack

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2014, 03:21:13 PM »
I don't know of any non-chemical way to stop seeds from sprouting.    I have a flame-thrower like attachment for the propane canister and whenever anything pokes through the rocks up I take a little stroll around the yard and blast it with fire.   Really the main advantage of this is that I get to say I have a flame thrower and it's easier than hand pulling them.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2014, 06:42:03 PM »
Any bark is full of cellulose.  Conifers have resins that may repel insects, but the cellulose content is not a factor.

Weeds are opportunists, so denying them light or moisture, or using a pre-emergent, are about the only options to keep them from germinating.  I too basically use brute force for a lot of weed control, and mulch for the rest.  And I will need to start soon.  Now that the snow is gone weeds will be growing long before my garden plants get started.

Happy non-weed news, the snowdrops and scilla in my lawn are blooming!


I think if you use pine bark mulch you don't have this issue.  It doesn't have the cellulose content of hardwood mulches.

Spork

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2014, 08:45:57 AM »

google search tells me:
pine bark - about 5% cellulose/95% lignin
hardwood chips - about 45% cellulose

That seems significant.

Any bark is full of cellulose.  Conifers have resins that may repel insects, but the cellulose content is not a factor.

Weeds are opportunists, so denying them light or moisture, or using a pre-emergent, are about the only options to keep them from germinating.  I too basically use brute force for a lot of weed control, and mulch for the rest.  And I will need to start soon.  Now that the snow is gone weeds will be growing long before my garden plants get started.

Happy non-weed news, the snowdrops and scilla in my lawn are blooming!


I think if you use pine bark mulch you don't have this issue.  It doesn't have the cellulose content of hardwood mulches.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2014, 09:01:24 AM »
Lignin is just as tough and non-biodegradable as cellulose.  Mind you, that may make it less attractive to termites, I think (but don't know) their gut micro-organisms might have a harder time digesting it.  We are too cold for termites so they are not a factor in my gardening decisions.  I probably wouldn't put any mulch up to my foundation because of the moisture retention, but any termite that was here would have to crawl up over a foot of solid concrete foundation.  We do have carpenter ants, that can be destructive, so again I wouldn't have anything close to the house that could help them.  My biggest concern for right by the house is drainage.

I was thinking more in terms of general pests - I find pine bark and pine needles make my already acid soil more acid, but they are good for weed deterrence.  If we are comparing wood chips to pine bark, how can we compare? Does anyone have hardwood bark available for mulch, or pine chips?  I don't see those around much.  But given the resins in conifers, I would think pine chips might be almost as unwelcoming as pine bark.  I suppose it all depends on what is available in your area.

One thing about wood chips, they do grab nutrients from the soil as they decompose, especially when fresh.  Bark rots more slowly, so I think this is why it is recommended more as a mulch.



soccerluvof4

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2014, 09:02:00 AM »
If you have boulder areas as one of the previous people said put a landscape fabric underneath it BUT first put black plastic under that.  The plastic wont break down however it will deaden the soil. No oxygen no weeds, then fabric then boulders. Never weed again. At least where the boulders are.

Spork

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Re: Calling all Gardeners: Natural Weed prevention!
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2014, 09:17:38 AM »
Lignin is just as tough and non-biodegradable as cellulose.  Mind you, that may make it less attractive to termites, I think (but don't know) their gut micro-organisms might have a harder time digesting it. 

Yep... Termites primarily want to eat cellulose.  That was the context of the "try pine bark instead of wood" comment.