The Q&A Archives: weeds, grass

Question: this maybe the #1 question for many to keep the weeds/grass out of my garden. we have put in rose garden, vegetable garden and many fruit trees we got from HD. How do you go about keeping the grass/weeds out of these areas? For instance, I have several fruit trees, but I don't like the grass growing all around and up to the bark of the trees. How do I go about killing the grass and keeping it and the weeds at bay? Can I just put like 3 inches of bark over the grass and hope it will die. I can't stand weeding week after week.....then there the mulch. I started the rose area and did dig up as much grass roots I could. I put down pine barks and it has helped out...but as the years pass by, weeds and grass creeps there any secrets of killing these guys without harming the veggie garden, rose garden and all my fruit trees? I saw my neighbor grass around his fruit trees turn yellow and he using something safe? I could have asked him, but he don't speak English.

Answer: James,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!

You have two basic options. One is to spray the weeds with a herbicide taking care not to get the product on desirable plants to avoid killing them as well. Products containing glyphosate (Roundup is one brand) are commonly used for this purpose. Don't pump up the sprayer too much as extra pressure tends to create mist that drifts rather than coarse droplets that are easier to direct to the weeds. Just spray enough to barely wet the foliage of the weeds and don't spray immediately prior to a rain.

Most gardeners would prefer not to use chemical sprays any more than necessary. There are few products labeled for weed control in a home vegetable garden and they can be a bit troublesome to use effectively. As a result, I think the best weed control is the mulch and paper method. Here is how it works:

Begin by wetting the weeds with a sprinkler. This will cause them to lay down a bit and will give the soil a good soaking. If weeds are too tall you may need to use a mower or weedeater to cut them down first. Next lay newspaper about 4 sheets thick. Cover the entire soil surface with paper, overlapping the edges a little and placing the paper right up against the stems of your vegetables, flowers and shrubs to completely shade the surface.

Wet the papers as you lay sections to keep them from blowing away. Next, cover the newspaper with leaves, compost, hay or another aesthetically appealing mulch. Then wait! No plant can live without light. Weeds under the paper will die. In a few months the paper will be decomposed. In the meantime, pull any weeds that peek out of a hole in the paper.

When planting a new area, lay the paper and leaves on the bed and later poke holes for transplants or larger seeds. When smaller seeds are used or a row is planted, you can adjust the procedure by leaving a narrow strip of soil (1 to 2 inches) uncovered for later planting.

Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

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