Clearing out a big area of weeds.

K. KelpJune 24, 2005

There is a pretty big area of weeds in my backyard. I want to clear the area of the weeds as easily as possible. It's isolated from the rest of the lawn by a border. It's basically an uncared garden that has been invaded by weeds. It has little trees and shrubs scattered all over the place. The garden is almost like a little field.

What would be the best way to remove all these weeds. Pesticides or manually removing them? There is nothing in the field I would like to spare.

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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Smother them using a lasangna/sheet compost method - the easiest, cheapest, least labor intensive. I do that all the time. I don't even dig the edge. You already have a border. Go for it.

Have fun.:-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Smothering weeds/grass

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 1:39PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Here's another lively discussion on the same issue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Removing grass without back breaking

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 1:42PM
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It depends on the type of weeds and your willingness to use herbicides. For example, if you have Bermuda, it is unlikely you would be able to get rid of it without chemicals. Do you know what types of weeds are present?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 3:28PM
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If the trees and shrubs are small enough, you can mow first. The size of your area would determine how easy it would be to use a cover (newspaper, cardboard, or black plastic) to kill weeds and seeds. If you do not want to grow anything until next year, use a pre-emergent weed killer without fertilizer to keep new weeds from growing.

My personal preference would be to do what I have done in a 40x50 foot area in my back yard: (1) remove any shrubs and trees that are too large to mow, by digging or sawing or with shears, (2) mow to mulch the vegetation, (3) add manure or compost, (4) rototill the mulch and compost into the soil, (5) wait a season, using a pre-emergent broadleaf weed killer to kill any weeds that germinate during the current season, (6) plant what you want next Spring and add 1-2 inches of compost on top, for weed control as well as fertilizer.

In my 40x50 ft plot, I had to rototill repeatedly to kill Bermuda grass so I only used pesticides as a spot control for bindweed. I am into the second summer, with a nice vegetable garden fronted by a flower garden with 12 rose bushes, 4 clematis, and a wide variety of smaller perennial and annual flowers. I am still fighting a small amount of Bermuda and a lot of bindweed. The Bermuda will be completely gone by this Summer's end, and the bindweed will take a few years to kill.

If you want to start grass, do steps 1-2-3 (and 4 if you can raise the level of the bed), level the area and plant or sod your grass. You will have to weed the area constantly until the grass is established. Then you can apply weed-and-feed to control weed sprouts until the grass chokes out the weeds. I did this at our first home in 1975 with African Bermuda and the lawn was still very healthy when we moved two years ago.

Best wishes

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 8:10PM
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Kathy547(z8 AR)

I am trying to buy a couple of goats for this same reason. I live in a rural area & have woody areas I'd like to have cleared. Also, where we had our hog was like that & he ended up clearing the area for us, digging up roots, etc. After about a year after his demise, the area is grass without the saplings & other brushy stuff.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 6:45PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

One of the points of lasagna-style is that you don't have to weed constantly! Putting down 1/2 to 1 inch of sopping newspaper for your bottom layer will smother just about every weed I've ever met, although I did learn that it takes 1 1/2" to smother the inch-thick stems of green briars. Then you alternate green & brown layers until the pile is at least 12" high - better if it's 15+ inches high, topping with a couple inches of shredded leaves or bark mulch. Within a year, this sinks down to much less than 1/4 of the starting height because the lasagna ingredients turn into a rich compost-type soil. To maintain a low effort topping, put about 6 sheets of sopping newspaper and cover with another 2" mulch in the spring and fall. You should never have to pull up more than the occasional wind-blown weed-seed sprout.

BTW, do read up on the latest scientific research results involving herbicides before you use any of them. You will likely decide they aren't worth the health risk; and that's okay because they really aren't all that effective anyhow -- you'll notice that those who do admit to using them also admit to having to re-apply and re-apply. You may have to re-apply mulch every year but at least you get good soil in return for the effort!

If you don't want to lasagna and don't want to poison your environment, then you can use a 'flamer' or boiling water to kill off the exposed portion of the weeds -- either method of applying heat requires far less effort than building lasagna and neither method will cause the reported side-effects of commercial herbicides.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 8:26AM
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daybreaker(z5 MI)

Will the newspaper also kill Myrtle?


    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 12:03AM
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