Everyone has weeds. The questions are how do you minimize the number of weeds you have and also minimize the amount of time you spend fighting them.
I define weeds as plants which are not wanted in a particular location. Grass is fine in a lawn, but when it invades a flower garden, it’s a pain to deal with. The birds have brought in lots of bermuda grass which is continually sending out runners trying to get in with my flowers.
My main defense against weeds is a block border and a “Line of Death – LOD” around the border. I have a clear area around the border which I keep clean of any weeds. Here are a couple of tricks regarding the L.O.D.
I use a concrete block area to mark my garden area. It not only helps to define the garden, but catches garden seeds and gives me new plants every year. I like blocks that allow you to make a curve.
Be vigilant – once a week is about fine for patrolling the LOD.
Have good soil, fine mulch or compost in this LOD area so that it is easy to remove weeds. If you are trying to pull weeds from clay, it is much harder. While I buy compost by the yard, you can buy nice mixes in bags.
Preen is another product that I use at times. It keeps seeds from germinating. Put in the L.O.D. area to keep the weeds from sprouting.
Try Burnout as an organic weed killer. It works great for a week, but many times the roots are not killed and you will have to spray again.
I use a Japanese hoe to loosen weeds. It’s my favorite hand tool.
The final tool is an edger to keep the grass back. I do this once a week.
Inside the garden I sometimes use Preen for paths inside the garden. I use my Japanese hoe to get 99% of the rest of the weeds. Persistence is the key. I consider this my workout for the day.
Note – if you have already lost the battle with the weeds, it might be easier to take out the plants you want to keep, mow the area and then cover with either newspaper or cardboard and then add compost or fine mulch. Let the weeds die underneath it all for a couple of months.
One of the aggravations all gardeners have are all the weed seeds that sprout up all over the garden and yard. While you could certainly use a number of weed killers to fight them after they sprout, a better and more organic way is to keep them from sprouting in the first place.
I have used corn gluten meal in the past and it does seem to prevent seeds from sprouting. The other advantage of corn gluten meal is that it is high in nitrogen – about ten percent.
I’ve found the product locally at OK Hatchery in Kirkwood Missouri. Forty pounds is $40. While the big box stores also carry this product it is much more expensive.
Note – while listening to Mike Miller – a St. Louis gardening expert, he recommends putting out pre-emergent weed preventer twice during the year – once during early spring and once in mid-August.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of corn gluten meal, check out the link below from Iowa State University.
If it does not rain in 5 days of application, water it in with approximately .25 inches of water. Then leave a drying period after germination.
I generally recommend 20 lbs product per 1000 ft
The material is generally about 10% nitrogen by weight. One hundred pounds has 10 lbs of nitrogen. The nitrogen will release slowly over a 3 to 4 month period after application.
Corn gluten meal will not provide as complete control as synthetics and is likely to cost more. But, it does provide a natural substitute for those who choose not to use synthetic herbicides for pre-emergence weed control.
Every year I dig out at least ten bush honeysuckle seedlings that the birds or wind have dropped into my garden.
If you have a larger infestation with bigger plants there are a couple of options which I have researched.
An expert in the field recommends that home owners use Roundup as a first round of defense. If your infestation is bad you can try Garlon, same as Triclopyr, which he uses at the Shaw Nature Reserve. He says that you need to follow the label recommendations. (note – this article says that Garlon is not effective. ARTICLE)
MDC recommends a 20% solution of Roundup.
Doug D, an arborist, recommends a 50% solution of Roundup and water. He uses an old fashioned oil can to put roundup on the stump that you cut.
Curse of the Bush Honeysuckles is a good PDF article. It recommends, “Application should occur in late summer, early fall or the dormant season. Spring applications are less effective on stumps because resources are flowing to new buds instead of the roots.
I have found that the same chemical can be found in Ortho Brush-b-gon Poison Ivy Poison Oak, & Brush Killer.
Another chemical is NOT recommended – Tordon. My expert friend says, “I don’t recommend tordon because it stays active in the soil for a long time (sterilizes the soil for up to a year) and it is taken up by tree roots from the soil, killing non-target tree species.”
I hope this helps you with your battle with bush honeysuckle.