The Q&A Archives: Controlling Weeds

Question: Last spring I built raised planters and put down landscape cloth covered with gravel to form walkways between the planters and eliminate weeds. Now, next to our fence with our neighbor, I have several lily plants coming through the landscape cloth as well as some type of berry plant. I've tried digging them out, but they seem to keep coming back. Is there a way to permanently eliminate or irradicate these plants? Thanks. Gary Morlock Los Alamitos, CA

Answer: It always amazes me how tenacious and durable some plants are, to be able to grow up through landscape cloth! Plants with an extensive root system will keep sending up shoots, until their roots are exhausted of reserves. So if you continue to cut back the emerging shoots, eventually the roots will use up their reserves and die. However, this could take some time! You can add a second layer of landscape cloth, choosing the heaviest type you can find. Then add a thick layer of newspapers under your top layer of mulch. This will give the plants a thick barrier to penetrate. There are some herbicides on the market you can try -- for example, Roundup -- that are safe when used properly. Just follow directions carefully, and be sure that you do not inadvertently spray desirable plants (especially your neighbor's!).

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