Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chemical use - herbicides

Herbicides are another one of those chemicals that everyone believes they have to use.  What on earth did people do before there was a magic weed killing spray? What is a weed anyway? A weed is simply a plant growing in an undesired location. Most people think of dandelions in a lawn, but your beautiful lawn grass in a flower bed is also considered a weed. All weeds aren’t bad and a little acceptance can go a long way in saving you time, money and aggravation.  It’s OK to have a few dandelions or clover in your lawn. They add diversity and attract pollinators that benefit all the plants in your landscape.

Before you spray something on a plant to remove it, ask yourself why you want it removed and if there is another way to do it. If you do need to put out a chemical control, don’t broadcast treat, spot treat. There is no reason to spray an entire yard to remove a handful of undesired plants. Something like poison ivy may need to be sprayed for health or safety reasons if you are allergic, while dandelions can be pulled by hand.

There are several natural alternatives to the nasty chemicals that work just as well.

  • Boiling water - This will kill a weed in minutes and is an effective method for just a few weeds in a driveway or in tight spaces. 
  • White vinegar – Regular old white vinegar works as a non-selective herbicide meaning it will kill anything you spray it on. It works just as well as the big named brand sprays and you don’t have to wear gloves to use it. 
  • Hand pulling – Good old manual labor works surprisingly well for both the weeds and your health. They are actually weed popper tools that makes removing weeds fun. Even without a special tool, there is something satisfying about getting your hands dirty and showing those weeds who’s boss.

All of these methods are effective and target the weed only and that is key.  Be selective about what you choose to remove and how you remove it. Not all weeds are bad and they may add a little interest to your landscape.

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