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Dallas Morning News - July 24, 2018

Organic Weed Control

Poa annua winter weed

This recent question about solar weed control reminded me that there are some new options for weed killing and I probably need to cover all the possible solutions for those of trying to avoid the toxic and highly destructive products like Roundup and 2,4-D.

The question was: “What’s the best way to eradicate the Bermuda. I want to plant shrubs & perennials in this area and can wait until the fall if need be. I really don’t want to dig out the Bermuda if it isn’t necessary. Did that in other areas and it is a killer on the back. I’ve heard about solarization and cardboard/newspapers and mulch. There’s an East Palatka holly growing in the area and has nutsedge growing around it. I broadcasted dry molasses and plan on drenching soil with liquid molasses. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.”

The molasses will be helpful with the nutsedge but not quickly. I have to be honest and say that the best solution is to scrape or hoe 1&1/2 – 2” of plant growth and soil off and be done with it. Contrary to popular opinion, grasses and weeds don’t grow back from roots, only from the rhizomes (stems) of the plants that are very shallow in the ground. However, there are some alternatives for you to try.

First of all, soil solarization is done by covering the weedy area with clear plastic after watering the ground and securing the edges firmly with soil, stones or brick. It takes a couple of months and is not perfect. It does not work against all weeds and pathogens, requires the use of chemicals and energy to make the polyethylene, and leaves a plastic waste for disposal. But it is much cleaner and safer than hazardous herbicides and fungicides and often just as effective. Paper and cardboard can used in a similar way and will kill a percentage of grasses and weeds. The plants that survive and pop though can be spot sprayed with vinegar herbicides or with two new products that are showing to work well. They are BioSafe Weed Control - a fatty

acid product and Puregro Weed Crush - is a clove oil product. Both are available in concentrates and ready-to-use by mail order and can be purchased from the manufacturers by your local retailer for more convenience.

All of these techniques are not only safer for people and pets, they will be less dangerous to existing plants such as your holly tree.

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