Get on the business end of a hoe
By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
Most of us have finally gotten some rain. Our yards are thriving but, unfortunately, the weeds have taken a growth spurt as well. On the bright side, nothing feels better than getting all the weeds out of your garden and flowerbeds!
Weed prevention does not mean that you must remove each weed by hand. So, here are some suggestions to control weeds in our area:
1. Chemical control works but has many drawbacks, most importantly the knowledge level of the person using it. Do your research and find a chemical product that specifically targets the forb or grass you are trying to control and if the target must be actively growing. Make sure you understand how to safely apply, handle, and store that chemical. Can it be used around or near edible crops (vegetables or fruit), near children, pets, or backyard wildlife? Pre-emergents kill weed seeds as they germinate. Post-emergents kill growing weeds. Soil sterilants and nonselective herbicides kill everything they are sprayed on. Always, always read the product instruction label!
2. Weeding by hand: If you decide to weed by hand, my personal favorite, here are some tried and true tips:
Tip 1: Always wet the area to be weeded or weed after a good rain. Weeds are easier to pull when the soil is wet and less likely to break off – only to reappear later. Invest in a good weeding tool; everyone has a favorite.
Tip 2: Take the bucket challenge. Decide that every evening or early morning, you will go to your garden or yard and pick one bucket full of weeds. That way you accomplish two things. One, you lay eyes on your garden to check for any problem areas and, two, you quit when your bucket is full, you are not overwhelmed, and you get outside exercise.
Tip 3: Mow turf regularly to keep weeds in check. Just a few weeds compete with turf grasses for nutrition and water.
Tip 4: You may not like this one but get on the business end of a hoe! Teach your children since this can be a character-building experience that stays with you.
3. In a new bed, lay layers of cardboard down before you add soil and soil amendments. No need to pull the weeds first; cut them down to a level where you can lay the cardboard flat.
4. Solarization is a non-chemical method of controlling soil pests. Basically, you carefully cover the area you want to solarize with a black plastic sheet and let the sun do the work of weeding for you! The sun’s energy, captured by the plastic raises the temperature to lethal levels for many soilborne pathogens including weeds, insect pests and pathogens. For a specific homeowner example see: Soil Solarization Eliminates Weeds and Pests https://travis-tx.tamu.edu/2021/01/11/soil-solarization-eliminates-weeds-and-pests/ and for a complete guide try: Soil Solarization for Gardens & Landscapes https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74145.html#:~:text=In%20general%2C%20transparent%20or%20clear,trapping%20as%20clear%20plastic%20does
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.
Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.
Find a favorite weeding tool