Dandelion: Weed control

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Homewood, IL
somewhereinillinois
May 5, 2018 2:57 AM CST
Bindweed and Canadian thistle likely came into my garden by the lawncare service brought in to cut my lawn for a short period. A couple of things I learned about these. First they both can settle in quite quickly in the home garden and can get out of control very fast. Once present they both have and will develop very extensive root systems. (I was informed by my MG coordinator up to 20 feet for bindweed!!). I took several approaches to try to get Handle on things before finally getting this under control. I am not sure either are ever completely eradicated though. First I just tried digging but that just made things worse. Remember me mentioning the extensive root system? I tried solarization which basically didn't do much. For the bindweed in my raised bed my beau took the bed apart and sifted out the bindweed roots from the soil. Once back together the part of the bed that will be used for planting has several layers of paper on top of the soil (I recycled oversized drawings from work & junk mail for this.) I then covered the paper layer with 2-3 inches of mulch. The other part of the raised bed not used for planting was covered in carpet obtained from the local thrift store and then covered with lava rock. It will be decorated using hardscaping as this bed is behind my garage. Both of these were done two years ago and so far only a few tendrils of bindweed have appeared and those have been eradicated with herbicide. For the thistle it was a different approach as it appeared in my lawn and took over very quickly. I'm talking plants that were probably close to my height (5'8"). This happened during a time I was working a lot and going home to visit my parents and not actively watching what the lawncare company was doing (I learned later they mowed my perennials and a small tree but the weeds were left behind!!!). My soon to be husband (bless his heart) took it upon himself to take out the stand of thistle by brute force as a surprise for me. If you've ever tried this you know this is painful as those thorns can manage to work through most gloves. But he's not a gardener and had no idea he'd released the seeds as he removed the plants and shredded the stalks (he's a big fan of John Deere and power tools.). So next came vigilance and I do mean vigilance. For the last two summers we have been using an herbicide to spray any thistle plant that appears as soon as we find it. So far this spring we have only seen three or four plants but we know that more are coming as the season gets underway. This year we are just focusing on making it through the summer managing the thistles that appear as well as leveling off the divots and holes in the yard so that we can plant seed in late summer/early fall. This is needed because we had some pretty extensive drainage work done to move water from the gutters and sump pump into the lower level of the yard. Prior to that we'd lost a retaining wall and had some problems with water in the basement. So now it's lawn recovery time. I am okay with not having a monoculture stand of Kentucky bluegrass as I really do like to avoid herbicides when I can. I'd worked very hard to undo the years of herbicide use of the previous owners of my home. The lawn was green and lush but there were very few bees, butterflies and other insects beneficial to a home garden. We will plant a grass seed mix appropriate for z5 and incorporate white clover as well. I am hoping to be at point that we can get the lawn established and reduce the need for herbicides. I have learned that as much as I want to have an herbicide free suburban lawn I sometimes may have to use herbicides judiciously to keep things like thistle & bindweed under control. Now ground Ivy and wild violet? Not sure about how to handle those yet... Sighing!
[Last edited by somewhereinillinois - May 5, 2018 2:59 AM (+)]
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