In My 30 years of horticulture I have learnt that there are several ways to control weeds. I said control because there is no way of eliminating them. You may think that by putting a mulch down will solve the problem, I tell all My clients that the mulch will only stop weeds breaking through the soil if the layer is an inch thick but that wont stop seeds that’s either dropped by birds and wind settling on top of your mulch .And germinating
Not longer ago when I was working for Lambeth, We used to apply a weed killer called Casron G. This was a residual weed killer that stopped weed germinating ( a pre emergence ) in there tracks but unfortunately due to health and safety this is no available along with it Domestic Counter part Cover shield.
However there is a professional product on the market called Kerb which does the samething but has a different chemical.But unfortunately it only sold to professionals and not to the general public.
So I’m going to take you through the ways of tackling weeds .
When hoeing I’ll prefer the use of the a good dutch hoe that can slice through the weeds with ease. Yes I said slicing what you want to do is cut bellow the crown and chop off any vegetation.This will make take away all the nutriment from the plant and after several retries (if you keep on top of it the roots will swivel up and die ) .Make sure that if you hoed up the young seedlings to clear the surface as they might be able to re-root again.
when hoeing make sure that its in dry hot weather as this can dry up any roots that are left on top of the soil and prevent them from re-rooting.
Propane weed gun
This does the same thing as hoeing ie removing or burning the foliage,which is then brushed away and disposed of.
- The flame can reach onto the weeds with out doing permanent damage to the barks stem.
- the lighter version available make it easier to carry and direct the flame.
- even if you choose the lighter version of it the propane cylinder might not last long
- it is not all that cost effective
- storage if you choose to buy the bigger version then you got the problem of storage
- health and safety rules should be applied as these canister are like ticking time bombs if they aren’t stored right
- they can be very heavy to use esp the bigger ones and will need to moved around on a troley
- The finished look can be very appeasing
- Its cheap cause there no equipment to be used
- when you pull out the root you are more than likely to leave the tap roots in the soil to re-root again although the vegetation has been removed esp with the cases of the dandelions and burdocks roots
- it can be time consuming and laborious esp if you have a large area to cover
- some weeds are impossible to remove esp. if there are in the patio and growing in concrete are tarmac
For a mulch to be effective it most be at least 1″ thick and not leave any gaps where the weds can grow through .
The best way to apply a mulch is to :-
- weed and clear the site first
- water the surrounding area well before applying
- leave a small gap around the stem of the plant so you can water it
- DO NOT USE fresh matter ie manure or wood chipping as the manure will rot the roots of the plant and wood chipping have toxins that kill any young growth
- If you got a site right at the bottom of the garden that you don’t look at or allotment site which needs to cleared one cheap way is to use a old rug or carpet will do
- convert it upside this will suppress any weeds from growing up cause they can’t get any light and these will eventually die
- an black membrane is ideal as temporary mulch esp when laying a slabs or turfs in a small garden . The sheets are made to allow water to go through the soil and stop plants from growing
- Also You can use it on small beds by covering the sheets with fresh new soil
- Manures (well rotten)
- Compost – tip make sure the peat based compost is well wet. This will bind the particles together and act like a thick sheet
- decomposed bark
- stones with Sheets or carpets
- basically anything that can block out the light
But as I mentioned before this doesn’t stop other weed growing esp. in the case of manures and compost where weed seeds are dropped by birds and wind
As a professional gardener I am often asked to weed patio and drives & like I said before weeding by hand can be laborious. Therefore I would apply a chemical weedkiller to do job very effectively and quickly.
However with the growing concern for the environment I’m looking into other ways to control weeds using the organic approach
There are three different types of chemical weed killer on the market at the present and its important to know what to choose for a particular job
- A contact herbicide like diquat where the plant tissue is burnt to a crisp or frazzled up is ideal for annual weeds as per annual weeds have a long tap root that needs to killed
However a constant application of the chemical should slow the plant down until it dies away .
Systemic or translocated weedkillers are absorbed by
plants and carried around the whole plant, including the roots.
They are suitable for the control of both annual and perennial
weeds but they do rely upon weeds being in active growth. They
will thus be less effective and slow-acting if they are applied in
periods of slow growth such as cold or drought.
Selective:Some weedkillers contain active ingredients which will selectively control weeds with a certain type of growth habit without harming plants with a different growth habit. Lawn weedkillers will selectively control broad leaved weeds without damaging the grass. Selective weedkillers may be either contact or systemic in their mode of action. Most weedkillers currently available are non-selective – ie they will cause damage to cultivated plants, as well as weeds, so care must be taken when the weed killers are being applied.
- Non residual These weedkiller are ideal if you intend to plant in the same spot as the chemical leaves permanent traces in the soil these are often known as biodegradable
A residual weed killer remains active in the soil for several months or longer, depending on the product and climatic factors. While it continues to be active weed growth is prevented. Most residual weedkillers are used primarily in Combination Products (see later) for long term total weed control. These products should not be used near established plants or if the treated area is required for planting purposes in the short to medium term (check product label).There are residual weedkillers which can be used prior to planting and/or around growing plants. They are generally suitable for use around shrubs and woody plants and can be very useful for customers wishing to have a low maintenance garden or area, provided they are happy to grow only woody plants such as shrubs or roses.Combination Products:Several active ingredients with different modes of action are formulated together into one product.For instance a contact acting ingredient will control existing growth while a residual ingredient in the same product kills any germinating seedlings for several months. Examples are the path weedkillers
My choice and many others is mix of diquat and glyphoshate weed killer d1quat when applied as single solution acts like the propane weed killer above and burns the leaves to a crisp whilst glyphoshate works by being aborbed through the leaves and then killing the roots making sure that there is no chance of the weed coming back .
Although it takes time for it to take effect there is some serious draw backs in some cases lately it has been reported that glyphosate no longer kills broad leaf weed . whether this is true or not is hard to say as i havent seen anything yet that tell me otherwise.
But What I do know is that after several yrs or months the weeds are back on the drive . So that why Im on the look out for a more effective way of controlling weeds
However if you still wont the chemical approach here are list of several that have the mixture mixed up all ready for you
- 24hr weedaway
- Resolva products path and patio concentrate
Organic weed killers
Home brew (not yet tested )
On My research for a better weedkiller I have come across some very strange remedies :-
Vinegar is suppose to burn the leaves like d1quat and the torch depleting the plant of its sugar to promote growth.
As I said before I haven’t yet tried this out So I can’t really give judgement on it but what I gathered from the forums that it only draw back is that it has to be applied during hot weather to be effective.
My main concern as with all other chemicals man made or organic is what effect it has the soil .though acetic acid is manufactured ny some weed killer firms
Although the instructions claim say it safe i would advise all the safety precautions i mentioned in my blog about chemical management be used as clearly the MSDS document on acetic acid says it not Acetic acid MSDS
This has the same effect as above if you ever suffered scalding hot water on your skin you can imagine what effect it will have on the weeds. So it just might work.
My only worry is :-
- Health and safety of it you have to extra careful not spill any of it your self and also carrying it out to the path or patio
- some suggest using left over vegetable water – my only problem with that is that salinity of it might too much for the soil and then nothing will grow cause of the increase of salt level . And then there the run off into our drains .Although most of the waste from the sink goes the same route
From My experience and knowledge salt kills everything by osmosis ie the concentartion of minerals draws the less minerals from the plant like a sponge thus killing the plant with in days.
This you to might be ideal cause its safe to use cheap but by overdosing every time you see a weed is only increasing the salinity in the soil and then nothing will live there and the earth will become sterile
For best results it best to water the weeds first in dry hot weather as this will make the plants more acceptable to weed killer
systemic weed killers based on glyphosate need between 4-6 hours without rainfall in order to be absorbed properly by weeds. If it rains in the interim, it may be necessary to give a further application. It is also a good idea to know what to expect in terms of weed control – systemic weed killers take longer to show the effects of control than contact weed killers and users often don’t realise this, so they may think the weedkiller isn’t workin
- Mulch Buying Guide (lowes.com)
- Killer Vinegar (swanmama89.wordpress.com)
- Dear Modern Farmer: The “Better Know Your Hoes” Edition (modernfarmer.com)
- To mulch or not to mulch – definitely to mulch (kslifeonthefarm.wordpress.com)
- Ecological Pest Control II: Soil Biodiversity (shonufforganics.com)
- Alternatives to Glyphosate (Round Up) (heritagebreedsfarm.com)
- Weed Control Facts – Winning the Battle of the Weeds (organicrecipesforyourskin.com)