The Q&A Archives: Strong, Persistant Weeds

Question: I purchased an adjoining lot about 3 years ago that for the past 20 years was full of weeds. I have tried many times to eradicate these persistent weeds. I have tried Round-up, covering the weeds with 3 inches of mulch, pulling the weeds and pouring boiling water on the weeds. All of which don't seem to control the weeds. I refuse to sod the area until I can get it under some type of control. Pulling the weeds doesn't work because there is this huge underground network of roots that connect each plant. The weeds themselves are single stalked weeds that have grown as tall as 3 to 4 feet. Someone told me they are called "false chrysanthemums" because their leaves resemble the chrysanthemum leaves. I have tried covering the weeds with 3 to 4 inches of mulch after pulling them, but a week or two later they start to come right through the mulch. Round-up has worked a little, though it takes forever to kill the weed and the following year it starts all over again. I have tried pouring boiling water on the weed which actually seems to work the best. After a few days the weeds are dead. I figured this is probably my best bet since all of the weeds seem to be connected by their root systems. The problem is that it takes a lot of water and time I have to believe that his particular weed is a perrennial because some of the smaller weeds that were pulled had a very thick root system. Any ideas as to what the weed is and how I can eradicate it entirely from my yard? If need be I can send you some to examine. I'm sure I have enough to go around.

Answer: My first suggestion is to mow the area as often as possible. You may need to hire someone with a heavy duty mower. Grasses are one of the few plants that can withstand repeated (weekly) mowing. By repeatedly cutting down the larger weeds, you'll deplete their root systems. Mowing, plus the boiling-water treatment for persistant weeds, should help you get a handle on things. (By the way, you can also try pouring white vinegar on the crowns, instead of boiling water. It's more expensive, but easier to handle.)

You might also consider a wildflower meadow of some sort, instead of sod. Once established, it will require less maintenance.

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