Best way to keep weeds out???

nanaclaire(5b)May 16, 2014

Normally I use landscape fabric and mulch but I still get weeds I have to pull. It is getting harder for me to do this since I am the sole caregiver 24/7 for my husband. We are both 66 and he is disabled, so all the gardening, mowing, etc. chores are mine.

I have been thinking of using small stones instead of mulch for my hosta bed since I don't plant anything else there. I hate stone for beds you add annuals to etc. But for the hosta bed, maybe stone would work fine. I may even want to put it in my other beds that have perennials (rose bush, 2 clematis vines, creeping phlox, hydrangea, shasta daisies, and some sedum). I don't have to add any annuals to these beds. But this year I did add more mulch so probably won't make any changes to those beds and yes, I will have to pull weeds during the summer.

I so love my flowers.

Question is: Will the stones keep out the weeds if I put landscape fabric down around the hosta plants???

Thanks for your help.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

No, they won't. The weeds will seed among the stones which provide an excellent habitat.

Sorry but constant vigilance is required. As well as regular search & destroy tours through the garden.

The keys to minimizing the effort & work level:
1. Get rid of seedlings as soon as you see them.
2. No one is allowed to set seed.

This post was edited by jean001a on Sat, May 17, 14 at 16:44

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 1:56AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

One option is to reduce the number of beds you have. Could you gradually rationalise the various beds and just have a few near the house and grass over some of the those further away? Secondly, you could plant your plants more thickly and have a mix - not just hostas, so that the ground is always covered with foliage. Thirdly, edge the beds sharply with a spade or edging iron so weeds can't encroach from the lawn. Fourthly, get a hoe and keep just gently scuffing any bare soil before seedling weeds get a chance to take hold.

Landscape fabric doesn't work long term and you don't want to be struggling to take it up in a couple of years time. However, you could try using newspaper layers or pieces of cardboard.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 4:53AM
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I am 65 and an avid gardener. I am having the same problem with my house I bought a year ago. The expensive landscaping has open areas which allow for weeds to take over.
I am greatly concerned about repeated use of weed killers and have started using cleaning vinegar with great results. You may need a second application but a sprayer is quicker than sitting down and pulling.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:31AM
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"Weeds", unwanted plant growth can be difficult to keep under control since Ma Nature wants stuff growing everywhere on her planet, even in concrete and asphalt. Landscape fabric can, for a while, keep plants that have been growing in soil from continuing to grow but some of the more invasive plants will eventually find a way around that fabric. However, the vast majority of the "weeds" growing in mulches are annuals that self seed and can be kept under control simply by cultivating the mulch and disrupting the rooting process. Spraying plant poisons, aka "weed" killers, might also work as long as the sprays do not hit the more desirable plants or are not those poisons that plants can also uptake through the roots, and many are.
I have always found weeding the garden to be more therapeutic (take that you dirty "weed", "This will teach you to grow in my garden") to relieve some aggression then a chore.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:11AM
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I edge my beds and then put down corrugated cardboard and several inches of mulch. I also have the beds thickly planted so that little sun gets in between the plants. The bed below (photo shows about 2/3 of bed), I only weed for a few hours all season, usually in 10 or 15 minute increments. I renew the mulch every three years or so, though as the plants continue to grow, I use less each time.
From 2013

I haven't done well with landscape fabric since weeds tend to grow roots down into the fabric and it makes weeding more difficult IME. The problem with gravel is it is difficult to keep out leaves, etc which then add organic matter for weed seeds to sprout in and you will be in worse shape than before.

If it gets to be too much, choosing to put in shrubs which take less maintenance, grassing over beds, and planting flowers in a few large containers may be a good solution. You may also find that there are service groups like scouts or someone who lives in an apartment but who loves to garden who may be willing to help out with the maintenance a few times a year.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:29AM
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I like the idea of adding more plants to make the bed full and less room for weeds. I have one specific weed that grows fast and gets tall. I try to pull it as much as possible and it seems to have runners under the ground. I'll take a picture today so you all can see. I don't want to reduce what I have but if that is what I need to do, I'll have to remove the hostas and put grass seed down there. I'm going to try adding more plants to that bed.

The beds in the front have quite a few plants now but those weeds I was mentioning are growing there like leaps and bounds. Can I add plants around the flower bush, hydrangea and shasta daisy??? I'll also take a picture of the flower bed so you can see where it is at this point. As the spring/summer progresses, the plants all get larger and prettier. Right now they're in their beginning stages.

When you say "cultivate around the mulch" do you mean to take a fork and move it around the mulch into the soil??? I have never done that. I do need to get one of those rakes (with a 3 prong fork) that has a long handle to make it easier for me.

Thanks for all your suggestions!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:37AM
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Anything but stones! My house was originally mulched with stone, tons and tons of stone, everywhere. The landscape fabric underneath it has long eroded, the weeds come through and the stones prevent hoeing or digging, they get into the lawn and get hit by the mower blades.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Itilton, I know. I hate stones... but was looking for another way. Oh well. Maybe I should move into an apartment.

Anyway, here is the picture of that weed I mentioned. It looks like a small tree ... starts out very tiny, and just grows. I haven't been able to get out there and pull these b/c of all the rain we've been having.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Here is the picture of the whole bed (front). I didn't take a picture of the hosta bed.

You can see where I re-landscaped the left side of these beds. I still have the right side to do.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:17AM
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forgot to tellyou... these beds get complete sun in the morning. It is on the south side of the house, east sun.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:19AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Well having seen the weed I'm afraid the news is not good. It is Equisetum, Horsetail, and it is one of the most tenacious weeds there is. I know it's not easy to think about but I feel that your best bet, given the small size of those beds, would be to start all over again. Remove any plants you want to keep, inspect them minutely for horsetail and pot up. Dismantle the beds. Level them and cover with a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard. Leave them for a full season. Watch for horsetail. Rebuild the beds next year or just grass the area over and make new beds elsewhere. I know it's radical but you will never beat horsetail with hand weeding amongst plants. Even herbicides barely tough it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dealing with horsetail

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:41AM
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Thanks floral_uk - I knew it was a difficult weed. I'm thinking I could maybe cementing the area and putting in potted plants ... maybe I could dig up my rose bush, hydrangea, shasta daisy and plant them elsewhere, or I could do what you said and grass it over but won't those horsetail weeds still pop up???

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 2:56PM
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would it work if I waited till Fall??? Because the clematis, and other plants are growing. We could do what you said in the Fall, pot up all the plants in there, put down the cardboard, and then next spring, see if any of those weeds show up again. that way it is safer to dig up the plants. We'll put them into pots or replant them elsewhere this Fall.

I also noticed it is along the side of the house (not all the way) so my son is going to dig that up soon. In the meantime, I'm going to look for some cardboard (boxes) and newspapers so we can put it all down.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Horsetail generally prefers wet sandy soils with a low pH. When did you last have a good reliable soil test done?
Given the healthy looking plants growing there, conditions are very good for them or they have really adapted well to what would normally be a hostile environment.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:00AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

The horsetail might well pop up in the grass but you would be mowing regularly so it wouldn't really intrude visually.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:48PM
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It is in the grass. No, I haven't done a soil test. I could dig some up and bring it to Lowes or HD (think they test there). Much of the soil there has come from the bags you get at HD or Lowes ..I don't buy the cheapest but also don't buy the most expensive. Also, my son suggested maybe the horsetail came from a plant I purchased (could even have come from the soil I purchased) because nobody else in the neighborhood either side of me has it. They will if I don't get rid of it though. This is the 2nd year I think I've noticed it.

I'm going to go outside (hopefully today) and dig up some of those weeds. I can't redo the beds right now but my grandson (15) is going to come by on the weekend and start digging up the ones alongside the grass ...I have some bushes growing there also.

Q. Is it possible to leave the big bushes in the ground (the rose bush which is doing so well ...last year it flourished! and the hydrangea ) I can dig up the shasta daisy and the sedums bc I know they will come back, but I'm worried about the rose bush and hydrangea bush and the clematis. So Can I put cardboard around those plants?????

This post was edited by nanaclaire on Mon, May 19, 14 at 10:33

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Stone mulch is the worst idea I've ever seen, particularly in a place where you want to grow plants. Once you've put stone down, you are not able to do anything to improve the soil - that's bad for plants that you want to grow. All plants that you grow shed leaves, flowers, etc., on top of the stone mulch - in a few years you have again a great place for weeds to grow on top of the stone mulch, yet the underlying ground is so hard with the rocks you can't pull out the weeds. I also hate all landscaping fabric - it seems like a good idea at first, but getting to the underlying soil is too important fro growing plants in the long run. My suggestion is always to use plant-based mulches (even layered newspapers in severe cases) to keep down weeds. In the process, the underlying soils become richer, softer, so that when a weed does show up it is easy to pull when small. it's good for the plants you're growing, and easy to maintain. I mostly use ground up leaves all through my garden and landscape.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 3:29PM
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I planned to put the stone down and have just potted plants on top of it. Now I have no idea what to do. I wanted to try to make it easier for me so I don't have to weed the area. In fact I thought of just putting a slab down there and put the pots on top of that and have grass everywhere else. But I live in a mobile home park and they may not allow that. So the stone idea (river rock) with the pots on top sounded like a good idea. Maybe it isn't.

I think it is too late now to remove all the bushes/flowers so I will decide in the Fall what to do.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 7:37PM
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I finally got the soil tested and the PH is 7.0 . I did dismantle the raised beds so now I can get inbetween where the grass and weeds grow. But I am NOT putting stone down at all. I am saving cardboard boxes in case I need to put them down next Spring. We'll see how aggressive this weed gets this summer. I am cutting the weed. I read elsewhere that dolomite lime and then compost will rid that weed but then I also read that a PH above 6 is good and the weed shouldn't like it yet it does. :( What to do what to do. I bought Lime from a previous site that suggested it so now thinking I need to take it back (unopened).

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 12:10PM
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