The Q&A Archives: Weeds in Groundcover

Question: Hi, thanks for your help on my last question; I have a huge list of toxic plants now. I have a slope that is covered with red apple and some type of ice plant. I pulled out all of the ice plant and now have large areas I am trying to get the red apple to take over. I have been hand watering a lot to get the red apple to grow and it is, but so are the weeds, mainly dandelions. Is there anything I can spray on that will kill the weeds but keep the red apple ground cover? I would hand pull them but all of a sudden there are hundreds and the slope is pretty steep and has spiders, yikes. Thank You.

Answer: This is the type of situation where an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure. It's easier to keep weeds and grasses out of the garden than to get them out once they've established themselves. The safest treatment is to dig the weeds out. An option is to use corn gluten as an herbicide. The gluten releases an enzyme that kills germinating seeds, and at the same time adds nitrogen to your soil. This product is marketed under several brand names. It is available from Gardens Alive, 5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025, ph# 812-537-8650. Another option is to use a vegetation killer such as Round-Up. This is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill anything it touches, so you'd have to be extremely careful to target only the weeds and keep it away from your groundcover. Drift can cause problems with the groundcover as well, so if you use an herbicide, be sure to do it on a still day. A final suggestion, and one that works for me, is to invest in a flamer and torch the weeds. You don't have to burn them up, only pass the flame over the plants. The heat will rupture the cells within the stems of the plants and they will keel over within a few hours. Again, caution is necessary.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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