How to Kill Weeds the Right Way!!!

Most gardeners like to control what is happening in their garden. Sometimes it may seem that too many things in the garden are happening overnight and some of these could run out of control very fast. One of this is weeds. When the soil gets disturbed while gardening, the weeds seem to come up out of nowhere. Apparently, weed seeds can survive in a dormant stage in the soil for many years and then germinate when conditions become favorably. The best information about the viability and longevity of seeds comes from seeds recovered in archeological settings. In Mexico common weed seeds have been extracted and germinated from adobe bricks aged well over 150 years old. Even more impressive, seeds of Cannas found inside a walnut shell necklace that was dated at 600 years old proved to be viable.

But generally most weed seeds die within 10 years with more than 50 percent dying in the first 5 years. In order to properly kill weeds, it is important to understand what makes them grow. Following are three options to eradicate your weed.

  1. When the soil gets disturbed the dormancy of the seed ends due to better growing conditions, mainly with the availability of water and light. The home gardener can take advantage of that fact by creating reverse conditions. By denying light and moisture germination is stopped. Mulching with two inches of bark is a very good way to cover up any potential germinating weed seeds. Every two or three years this process may have to be repeated. In addition bark dries out faster at the surface which slows germination of any new weeds carried by the wind.
  2. The chemical control of weeds is done in two ways, selectively or non-selectively. Where appropriate, chemical control is a big part of weed control. Glyphosate, a non selective weed killer, is the chemical of choice and is considered the safest, even by conservation groups. (Previously patented as Roundup but now expired).
  3. The old fashioned ‘elbow-grease’ way. (From a 1605 dictionary, as a verb, meaning "thrust with elbow"). When weeds are about 1 inch in height, take a hula-hoe, one of those u-shaped hoes which wiggle if you pull it back and forth, and pull the hoe through the weeds making back and forth movements with a slight downward pressure. Do not only cut the roots of the weeds, but loosen up all the soil around the plants. The purpose of breaking up all the soil is to cut the capillary action which brings the moisture to the surface. By doing so you are creating a dry layer of soil, much like mulch, which will prevent new seeds from germinating. Be careful to work backwards so that you do not step and compact the newly hoed area. This kind of hoeing will not only kill the existing weeds, but also keep them from germinating. Preferably do this when the soil starts to dry. You will be surprised how a little bit of elbow grease goes a long way!!
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Article as printed in Herald ad on 7/5/2007


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