Category Archives: Weed Control

How to care for your roses

PicMonkey Collage (1)

 Part 1


In my line of work, I often get asked for help by my many of clients on the correct way to look after their roses.

Especially if their roses are under the weather are suddenly dying on them,

Hence I decided to write this blog on how to look after your roses from planting to pruning.


There  are  several  things  you  should  look  out  for  when  purchasing  a  rose  bush ( the  ideal  time  to  plant  a  rose  is  from  Oct  to  Dec  –  This  because  the  plants  in  its  dormant  stage and  all  the  energy  is  back  into  the  roots  )

  • Is  it  disease  resistant  (  well  for  two  or  more  years  any  way  )  No  roses  are  immune  to  Black  Spot  –  which  is  a  fungal  spore  by  the  way
  • Where  is  it  to  be  planted  – ie  All  roses  crave  sunlight
  • How  is  it  package  –  Many  high  street  chains  package  them  badly  and  ending  up  in    hurting  the  roses  esp  when  they  are  bound  together  with  tape
  • Is  the  Plant  damage   ie  damage  stems  can  often  kill  the  roses   by  allowing  stem  canker  to  thrive
  • Where  do want  to  plant the  roses :-
    (a)  Avoid  planting  in  shady  areas
    (B) Avoid intense competition from other plantsAvoid planting in winter sites

Before  you  do  any thing  to  the  rose   plant  the  loose  roots  or  root  ball  in  a  bucket  water.

  • This  helps  the  roots  to  absorb   water  quickly

Also  helps  to  loosen  the  solid  root  ball   to  allowing  the  tiny  lateral  roots  to  spread  out

Also  this  trick  works  well  with  root  bound  plants

Whilst  you  are  doing  that  it  time  to  prep  the  ground

What  I  do  is

  • Gently fork over the soil first to remove any builders rubble or stones dar-129
  • Get  my  mixture  of  well  rotted  manure  and  Bone  meal    ready  in  wheel  barrow
  • I  then  start  to  dig  the  a  hole  a  spit  wide  and  a  spit  deep
  • dar-103
  • Then  with  a  scraper  I  just  loosen  the  edges  in  the  hole  which  would  have  been  made  compacted  by  the  digging
  • Incorporate  my  mix  into  the  base   and  fork  it  then  ensures  that  all  the  soil  microbes  in  the  soil  rot  the  manure  down  and release it  to  he  plant  evenly
  • dar-107
  • If  a  stake  is  needed  I  hammer  that  in  first   to  avoid  damaging  the  roots
  • I  then  fill  in  the  hole  with  rain  water  or  tap  water  to  the  top  and  wait for  it  to  soak  in

With  the  Prep  out  the  way  I  then  plant  the  Rose  bush  in  the  hole  making  sure  that  the  soil  level  on  the   rose  is  level  with  the  soil  this  is  because

    • If   its  above  the  soil  line  it  will  produce  suckers


  • planting  a  roseThen  when  I  have  the  level  just  right  I  start  to  back  fill  the   hole  and  shaking  the  bush  to  distribute  the  soil  among  the  root
  • And  then  with  my  heel  or  spade  i  then  compact  it the top soil  down
  • And  finally  give  the  rose  a  good  soaking

The  Next  Stage


In  my  travels  I  have  witness  many  bad  ways  of  staking  a  tree    from  string  to  copper  wire  although  these  are  very  cheap  they  also  can  be  harmful  to  Roses  as  the  stems  expand  and  surround  the  tie  as it  n  slowly  begins  to  cut  through  the  stem .

The  proper  way  is  to  use  a  proper  tree  tie  and  spacer and  not  to  tie  the   stake  to  the  bush  but   the  bush  to  stake

As  Shown  here

Rose  with  stakes

Finally    I  then  add   layer  of  bark  chips  to  give   the  plant  with  that  extra  adding   protection against  blackspot  which  could  splash  up  from  the  surface and  also  give  the  plant  with  the  added  micro  fauna  to  promote  healthy  growth

Bark  Chips

I  Do  hope  you  enjoyed  this  Blog    and  Subsribe  for  updates  or  My  News  letter   Part  two  and  three  are    coming  shortly


Are the RHS and Defra BARKING up the wrong tree

Chapter 2

Bark Mulch

What is  Bark  Mulch 

English: Aged mulch of coarse home compost Cat...

 Bark mulch is a byproduct of the forestry industry, making use of the bark stripped off timber that is being milled for lumber such as two-by-fours. Bark and green waste such as wood chips and branches are collected into a huge pile. The material is then put through a chipper to break everything down into similar sized pieces. The chipped green waste is then processed in an aeration system or compost plant. The material is then partially composted. This begins the decomposition process of the material so that it is already on its way to forming a nutrient-rich mulch for gardens and landscapes. Once the composting stage is complete, the bark mulch is processed through a screening plant Bark mulch comes in several shapes and sizes two of the most popular is the general Amenity mulch made from processed mixed conifers to the rich small nuggets of the pine mulch.


Contractors Turf

Pine bark mulch.

This According to Malcourt or neat, small nuggets giving you that deluxe and high performance and that rich reddish brown.Like all bark mulches it’s is biodegradable which mean over time it will slowly rot down into the soil to give it fiber and carbon.As  there are no  nutrients in  the  bark  itself  despite  what  other  tell  you   As  this  pdf  will  tell  you  bellow

Melcourt Soil ameliorates, compost and Topsoil Product Specification Guide

Also, another thing to bare in mind is that all bark mulches are very acidic –  I know from experience that my clients call me out when they have the  ‘  Butcher  Squad  ‘ there words not mine been cutting and chopping trees down and spreading the wood chips everywhere without knowing the consequences.

I come over and see plants dying cause of it.  So if you want to Pine  Bark Mulch or Any  Amenity Mulch down think where you are going to put  first.

Advantages  of Pine  Bark  Mulch


  • It is like  CocoPeat  it  biodegradable    over  a  period  of  3  yrs
  • It’s not  porous  &  that  means  it soaks up  moisture   like  a  sponge   and benefits the plant’s roots  –  this  can  also  be  a  bad  thing  which I will  tell  you  later  on  how  to  work  around  this
  • it’s a  natural  local  source  product
  • Pine  Bark  Mulch  because  of its colour  its  naturally   appealing
  • Pine Bark  Mulch or  any  mulch, in fact, deters  slugs  and  snails

Disadvantages of  using Bark  Mulch 

  • Some bark mulches may be toxic to young plants, particularly if the bark is fresh or if it has been improperly stockpiled. Toxins can be leached from the bark by heavy watering or evaporated by thorough aeration.Bark mulches are most likely to cause damage to plants if the mulch particles are small, if the mulch is particularly deep, or if high proportions of plant roots are in the surface layer of the soil.
  • If the heap is still fresh, ie in the state of decomposition then the nitrates its produces will kill of the fine root hairs or in other cases it will cause nitrogen rubbery. Best  to  make  sure  that the  pile  is  well  &  fully  decomposed  or  buy  it  from a referable  supplier like  Melcourt
  • Make sure that any Free bark chips are free from pathogens first check your source – although you might get along with your neighbor or arbor the wood might pass the pathogens on to your stock.  You  wouldn’t  put  any  wood  chipping  that  came  from  your  tree  that  been  infected with your  new  stock  so  why  would  you  do  it  on  your  trees
  1. However  with  this  new  method  of  renewing  the  source  another  way  which  is  called  biochar  –  this  I  will  explain  in  chapter  3

Finally, I  come  to  the    Bark  Compost

Bark Compost

What is bark Compost 

Bark Compost is a renewable resource and is one of the most widely used components in commercial container media, although barks from many other species are also processed for this purpose.Bark particles used in container media generally range in size from dustlike to about 3/8 inch in diameter.




  • Bark lacks the moisture-holding capacity of peat moss, There  fore  its  free draining &  like  Biochar & coir  its  needs  to  pre-soaked  for  about  a  day
  • As  I mentioned above bark alone holds no nutrients at all. So best either mix it up with your compost or buy it from the store that has it already mixed in
  • but it can dramatically increase the porosity of a mix.


  •   Bark  cause  of  its  size, when mixed with another medium, will  increase  the  porosity  of  the  compost
  • It is  biodegrable  &  therefore  old  compost  can  be  put  into  compost  heaps to later  be  dug  into  the  ground
  • If  its  mixed  with  shredded  leaves  in  autumn  and  placed  in  a  OPEN compost container the fungi that break down the chipping rot the down the leaves too  to  make  leaf  mould  –  The  purpose  of  the  Open  container is to allow air flow through the compost and moisture from  the  rain  or  dew  to  activate  the  heap.

fungi  don’t  need  heat  to  live  only  the  damp  and  wet   conditions  like  a  typical  autumnal  day not  like  grass  cutting  that  need a  dry  condition  to  generate  heat

A successful container   potting medium  must  :-

  •  a stable reservoir of moisture and nutrients and remain loose enough to allow for root development, water movement and the exchange of gases in the root zone.
  • A growing medium must also have a pH (a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a medium) that can support adequate nutrient uptake,
  • Be  virtually  sterile
  • Be  neutral  in  PH  depending  on  the  plant
  • The  Medium  should  supply  a  good  anchorage  and  support  for  the  roots
  • must  be  heavy  enough  to  allow  anchorage


.If you have a good mix, water will penetrate it quickly and drain freely from the bottom of the pot. When the excess water has drained away, air will fill the large pore spaces, but enough water will be retained in the smaller spaces to provide ample moisture for the plant. In a poor mix, water may be slow to penetrate, the medium will become heavy and waterlogged, and a crust from algae or accumulated salts may form on the surface. Under these conditions, the roots become starved for oxygen, plant growth slows, foliage may begin to yellow, and plants often succumb to root rot.


With  this  taken  on  board  I would  definitely  choose  a  coir  based  compost  cause  with    bark  there  are  so  many  variables  either  you  over  water  or  you  under  water  etc

At least Coco Peat is sterile so there less chance of getting soil-borne diseases than bark so there are fewer things to worry about.  Of course, its  got to be mixed and  soaked  before  hand   for  it  be  any  benefit

Well  that’s  My  say  what  yours


Enhanced by Zemanta

Weed control


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 .

Cultural  Method


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 

weed  gun

Using a propane weed killer on a bed

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

Hand  weeding


  • 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
  • straw
  • 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

Chemical  Method

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:

    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.


Resolva weed killer

  • 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

professional granule herbicide

  • Residual
    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 gr
    owing 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
path  clear

path clear

Non organic

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  :-

  1. Vinegar

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


Acetic acid herbicide

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

Boiled water

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  :-

  1. 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
  2. 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