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Dallas Morning News - October 1, 2018

Weed Control Update and a Great New Tool

Stirrup hoe or hula hoe on the left is a great weeding tool, but the scuffle hoe on the right is even better.

A client once told me that he felt greater discrimination because of the weeds in his front yard than because of his minority religion. It’s true - weeds affect people’s basic psyche it seems. Shouldn’t be the case. I once raised some eyebrows for this answer to a TV interview question to how to control weeds - “Just mow the damn things.”

Here’s an update on my weed control advice and a great tip on the best weed control tool that exists. It is important to understand that many weed issues can be managed by simply mowing regularly, leaving the clippings on the ground, applying organic fertilizer a couple of times a year and watering sensibly.

Weed control products are divided into two groups - those that stop the weed seed as it germinates (pre-emergent herbicides) and those that kill weeds after they are growing (post-emergent herbicides).

Pre-Emergent Weed Control Products. Corn gluten meal is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. To function as a pre-emergent, it must be broadcast before the weeds germinate. Possibly its best use is on bare soil around root crops like carrots, bulb plants like onions and other transplants. It will feed the young plants while keeping the competing weeds at bay. This method can also be used after seed planting but only after the seeds have grown into small seedlings but it works year round.

Post-Emergent Weed Control Products. These contact killers are used to stop the existing plants - both grasses and broadleaf weeds. Natural-organic choices include 10% pickling vinegar, 20% herbicidal vinegar, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon products and fatty acid products. There are several of these fancy, strong soaps and plant oil products on the market including BioSafe, Puregro Weed Crush, BurnOut, EcoSMART, Monterrey Herbicidal Soap, Scythe and Racer. They are non- selective (kill everything) herbicides that sometimes have to be sprayed more than once.

And then there are the hand tools. Regular hoes, weed “poppers” and “twisters” and push-pull hoes are among the choices. "Push pull" hoes are arguably the best hand tools for effective weeding. I still recommend the stirrup or hula hoe but there is a better choice. It’s also a push-pull hoe but the Rogue Tool Company calls it a scuffle hoe. It is easy to use and works beautifully to remove weeds from gravel areas or beds. It can be ordered on line at . In Dallas these great gardening tools can be found at The Tree House at Central and Walnut Hill.

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