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Dallas Morning News - June 29, 2017


Weed Control Doesn’t Have to be Toxic


Weeds seem to bother people more than any other pest. Ironically they have great value but most people just don’t want them. Nature doesn’t like bare soil and uses weeds to fill in the spaces and cover bare ground and help build soil health. The primary control of weeds is to eliminate the conditions that create the need for weeds. Severely noxious weeds rarely invade high-quality lawns or beds that are maintained properly. 
 
When minor weed problems pop up, there are effective non-toxic controls. Some weed controls stop weed seeds as they germinate (pre-emergent herbicides). Others kill weeds after they’re growing (post-emergent herbicides).



Corn gluten meal granular - cleaner but less effective.




Corn gluten meal, meal form - more effective but dusty.

 
Corn gluten meal is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. To function as a pre-emergent, it must be broadcast before weeds germinate. Possibly its best use is on bare soil in new beds. It will feed young transplants while keeping the keeping weeds at bay. It can also be used after seed planting but only after the seeds have grown into small seedlings. This technique works year round.
 
Contact killers are used to stop the growing weeds - both grasses and broadleaf weeds. Choices include vinegar, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon and fatty acids. There are several fatty acid and plant oil products on the market including BioSafe, BurnOut, EcoSMART, Monterrey Herbicidal, Scythe and Racer. They are non-selective (kill everything) and sometimes have to be sprayed more than once.



Fatty acid weed control product.

 
Dry or liquid molasses can be used to fight a specific tough weed – nutsedge. The dry product is used at 40 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. or liquid molasses used at about a cup per gallon of water. It usually takes 2 or 3 applications of the liquid and the nutsedge slowly dies away. Spraying 3% hydrogen peroxide also helps.
 
A good non-selective herbicide is white vinegar.  My formula is 1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) vinegar, 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene, 1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant. There are also 20% vinegar products that are labeled for organic weed control.



20% vinegar labeled for organic weed control.

 
Agralawn Crabgrass Killer is a selective natural weed killer. It is effective on crabgrass, chickweed, clover and many other weeds. It even works on tough weeds like false strawberry and Virginia buttonweed. 
 
Hand tools provide an excellent alterative if used a little at a time on a regular basis. Regular hoes, stirrup hoes, weed “poppers” and “twisters” are among the choices. Flame weeders such as Red Dragon work on many tough-to-control weeds. There are small lightweight models for the homeowner and large commercial selections as well. They usually run off propane gas.

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