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Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Posted by Viche 7a MD (My Page) on
Sun, May 16, 04 at 16:37

Hi,

My main lawn weed appears to be clover. I have a small townhouse yard, but the clover started spreading all over my front yard. I used Round up directly on the infected areas at the beginning of the season and then patch seeded the areas. That worked ok, but I have a new patch of clover and I don't want to go through that trouble again. I have been looking at products like Ortho weed killers that are safe for lawns, but I really would like to use whatever is the safest chemical.

So the question is, what is the safest product I can use on my lawn that won't hurt the grass and will kill a broad range of weeds (expecially clover). I'd like my children to be able to play on the grass a couple of days later without worrying about dangerous residual chemicals.

Thanks,
Viche


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Before the invention of weed killers, a good lawn contained about 20% clover. Clover returns nitrogen to the soil, stays green in drought and can be mowed just like grass. The safest way would be to live with the clover.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Sure but I was up to about 30% clover and I am sure that if I had not stopped it, it would be about 50-60% by the end of the summer.

I live in a townhouse community. People expect other people's lawns to look nice. A front yard of clover is not really acceptable. If I lived in a single family home with a lot of property I might leave it alone, but I don't.

I don't mind living my life responsibly when it comes to using chemicals, but there have to be other options besides the extreme "just leave it alone" route. Besides, what about the other weeds...do I just leave them alone. I have been pulling the remaining clover out manually so far, but I have two herniated disks in my back and I can't do it anymore.

Any other suggestions?


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Ortho Weed-B-gon. Couple applications, when its warm & Sunny.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Also, the weed and feed regimen, and setting your mower to a 3" height, so it shades out the weeds.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I would also agree with Judy.
Clover isn't a weed, and since it adds nitrogen to the soil you can save $ on fertilizers and chemicals (and time).

You can set your lawn mower to cut the flower heads and it looks like a regular lawn.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb: clover as groundcover


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I'm not going to argue against the "clover is good" mentality. I'm past that stage. I just want to get rid of the stuff.

Now onto more questios:
Is the chemical in Ortho Weeb Be Gone the same as in the weed and feed fertilizer (such as Scott's)?
IS is relatively safe?
Will it hurt soil microbes or good bugs...earthworms?

Thanks


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Viche,

You write "Is the chemical in Ortho Weed Be Gone the same as in the weed and feed fertilizer (such as Scott's)?"

(1) Most "weed killer" or "weed and feed" products contain a combination of two to four active ingredients (herbicidal chemicals).

(2) Only a few herbicides are both effective and approved for home use. Therefore, if you pick any two bottles of either straight "weed killer" or "weed and feed", chances are good that they share active ingredients, regardless of the manufacturer.

(3) On the other hand, different varieties of WeedBGon don't necessarily contain the same active ingredients (chemicals) in the same proportion. There is no rule that prevents a company from changing the formulations of their "trade names".

(4) The three most common herbicides for home use against broadleaf weeds in lawn are 2,4-D; MCPP (or Mecoprop); and Dicamba. Many of the popular products contain all three. According to my state university web site, clover may be somewhat resistant to 2,4-D (several applications might be needed if this were the only ingredient), but is highly vulnerable to MCPP and Dicamba. However, Dicamba has more potential for environmental damage than the other two (persists longer and migrates more readily in the soil).

(5) So the safest "weedkiller" for targeting clover would be MCPP (one active ingredient), which will be difficult to find in a formulation without other active ingredients. The next safest would 2,4D + MCPP, excluding dicamba.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

As a mother, I can't help noticing that no one here has addressed your question about safety for your kids. Have you read anything in your research? I wonder if your non-clover-tolerating neighbors have any concerns about this.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Gailz,

Nothing other than what I've read here. I'm still clueless as to which are really the safest for human beings. My neighbors are seem pretty much clueless the dangers of herbicides and pesticides. They figure that as long as it is sold legally, it is safe. Most of them don't even read the warnings or instruction.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

  • Posted by Jonesy z6 midwest (My Page) on
    Fri, May 28, 04 at 18:26

None of it is safe for kids or the environment. I had rather have weeds than chems for my children to play in.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

  • Posted by JAYK 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, May 28, 04 at 23:35

Herbicides vary widely in their toxicity. A good place to start investigating them is Extoxnet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Extoxnet


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

You mentioned that you already killed the clover once and it has returned. I wonder whether the real problem is not enough maintenance on the grass. If the grass is growing poorly, then clover and other weeds will move in.

Grass is high maintenance; it needs regular fertilizing (three to four times a year), an inch of water every week and should be mowed no shorter than 3" high. If there is a lot of traffic on the lawn (walking, kids playing) then it should be aerated every other year. You should also top dress the lawn every spring with a thin application of compost or top soil.

The safest pesticide is no pesticides and good cultivation practices.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Viche, if you don't mind the clover, you could use the excuse to your clueless neighbors that you're letting it grow because your children enjoy the lawn and you "really hate to put them at risk." I agree about the cluelessness--virtually every lawn around us is highly treated--and home to children and/or dogs. Guess I'll check the site mentioned above.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Judy B,

I killed the clover permanently in a few spots, but a new one emerged. I fertilize 2 to 3 times a year, water thouroughly every couple of weeks, mow at least 3 " high, dethatch, top dress with compost, and reseed every year. It's just tough trying to do it without weed and bug killers. Recently, grubs have ravaged my yard. I really don't want to use pesticides, but the nematodes failed last fall. Not sure I really believe in Milky Spore either.

Gailz,

I must admit, that while I try to be environmentally and kid safe, I am a perfectionist as well, and seeing that clover really bothers me. Have't had time to check the site yet, let me know what you find out.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

There are several nasty clover lookalikes that require different chemicals than the standard white clover. Yellow woodsorrel (Oxalis) and Black medic (Medicago) also have three round leaves and grow in lawns, but they are much harder to get rid of.

Worth making sure.

Here is a link that might be useful: ID your clover


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Weed B Gone, Spectracide and Bayer Advanced Lawn are all perfectly safe for kids and pets *when used according to label instructions*.

Lots of sources will tell you that isn't so, but the various universities have researched the issue as best they can and none of the predominant weed killers are considered a serious health risk *when used as directed*.

I have used weed b gone on my clover and am not terribly impressed with the results. From discussing this on another thread it appears I am not the only one who finds weed b gone's formulation relatively unaffective against clover unless it is mixed stronger than label instructions.

Both Spectracide and Bayer have had better results on clover than weed b gone it appears.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Nora,

Thanks! Looks like I definitely have white clover.

Dave,

There is a weed be gone specifically for clover which uses a different chemical...have you tried that one yet?

As far as the safety of herbicides, I think you may have opened pandoras box. Some people might disagree with your position. By the way, doesn't mixing weed b gone to stronger solution kinda void the whole "when used as directed" theory? He he.

I like to go to the site below for info on toxicity of chemicals. Seems the main ingredient in Weed B Gone isn't so safe:

Here is a link that might be useful: chemical toxicity


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I would suggest that when people are sent to the above site, they also be made aware that it is a site created and maintained by an anti-pesticide organization. It is not an impartial site. The organization seeks a total world-wide ban on all pesticides.

Among their other goals:
*Launch campaigns against globalization of agriculture and the international institutions and instruments that promote it, like transnational corporations, the International Monetary Fund, multi-lateral development banks, structural adjustment programs and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights.
*Develope nationwide, regional and international networks and alliances and strengthening grassroots peasants and women's movements.
*Campaign to stop the development and use of genetically modified organisms in food and agriculture through national, sub-regional and international coordinated actions.

No matter how you view the goals, it is clear that they have an axe to grind, which becomes immediatley obvious to those familiar with pesticide toxicology issues when they visit the site. Along with valid information, they also often mislead the casual reader with their categorization methods, and through other techniques.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Jay,

Since you are more educated about pesticides and there toxicity, maybe you can offer suggestions for the safest weedkillers/pesticides.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

If you have some patience and don't insist that it all be gone tomorrow, you really can gradually scale back the clover without resorting to herbicides. Raise the blade on your mower and always mow high. Then, aerate and fertilize your lawn. You may also want to overseed with grass and perhaps top dress lightly with compost this fall. Improving the conditions for grass will allow it to compete more vigorously with the clover (which thrives in compacted low N soils). Hey, even if you nuke the clover now, you're going to need to work on the soil to get the grass to thrive in the long run anyway


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

The clover is good for the grass and is pretty and is good for bees and butterflies........ I think the modern gardener lives responsibly with concern for the enviroment and themselves...... there is no safe herbicide or pesticide....... they should only be used in extreme cases...... like say a massive hoard invaded an orange grove...... and that were your lively hood....... Most Americans in a study were found to have pesticides and herbicides in their bloodstream which could down the road cause problems like cancer ...... birth defects infertility etc. ........ I don't think having clover in your lawn is enough to make your neighbors angry and if it is ...... oh well...... I try not to use too many herbicides and pesticides if any at all because I worry about the effects on the enviroment and myself..... but I guess it doesn't do much good or at least annoys me if my neighbors are going to do it anyway..... :) ..... I'll still grow organic myself though....... :) Hopefully eventually everyone will catch on and we'll be a whole lot healthier..... :)


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Viche- As Marymd says very well, I would do all of the cultural things I could to promote healthy turf and crowd out the weeds but if you wish to use a herbicide as part of the renovation process I would have you look at the newer carfentrazone based products. It's an EPA reduced risk registration herbicide, and does a very good job on clover with only very small amounts needed. Once turf conditions are made more favorable, the need for broadleaf herbicides is usually negligable.

flowersandthings- I share your concern, but there can be reasons you might not have thought of for clover control, such as bee allergies in the family. Not all pesticides are irresponsible to use, and if used properly most do not present health or environmental risks. They vary so much in their characteristics that to paint them all as "causing cancer" or having other negative effects makes no toxicological sense. I support anyones desire to dispense with their use entirely, but I'm careful not to criticize other's choices before investigating the actual facts first.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

JAYK,

Thanks for the suggestion. Do you know of any products that contain carfentrazone. The only worry I have (and I think some of the other enviro-enthusiasts on here will mention) is the fear that the true effects of chemicals isn't realized until products are on the shelves for years.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Check into the PBI Gordon line of products.

Carfentrazone has been used in other products for some time. I think your worry has general merit. It is true that there have been examples where pesticides used in the past have then become problems. But toxicological science and our understanding of the issues have come a long way since then, and improves all the time. There is a world of difference between some of the persistant bioaccumulative toxic chemicals often used in early insecticides for example, and some of the newer products more prevalent today. Not to discount the ongoing need to constantly be vigilant, and do all we can to minimize any risks to us, or the environment. Without going into an extensive discussion about toxicological science, short and long term effects are assessed through the extensive testing process involved with pesticide registration. Compared to other substances, pesticides at least get a close look before they come on the market. My point is that each substance must be judged on its merits, and not collectively just because they are used as "pesticides".

I'm an advocate of integrated pest management which emphasizes prevention of pests through cultural and other means first, with pesticides being used only where they make sense within a holistic approach after a complete understanding of the situation is gained. Decisions to use pesticides should only be made when their use is part of this overall approach and not just a knee jerk reaction without thought. I also believe that a greater emphasis should be placed on education of those using pesticides, especially homeowners. Misuse of pesticides is often what causes problems both for us, and our environment.

Here is a link that might be useful: carfentrazone


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Okay now I'm really confused. Jayk I looked into PBI Gordon's line of products, but their weed killers had multiple chemicals in them. Sure they contained the Carfentrazone-ethyl (which appears to be relatively safe), but they also contain chemicals such as 2,4-D, 2-ethylhexyl ester, Mecoprop-p acid (MCPP), & Dicamba acid which are the exact same ingredients in Ortho's regular Weed-B-Gone. I might as well use the Ortho products since they don't contain as many different herbicides!!

The only other option is the clover specific Weed-B-Gone which only contains one chemical, Triclopyr.

So once again, does anyone know which product will work well on white clover and is the safest?


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

There are PBI Gordon products without 2,4-D, but yes, at this time it looks as if they are all combo products, although they rely on carfentrazone so they can reduce the amounts of the other components. Turf products always seem to formulate in combinations since there is such a wide suite of weeds to control in typical turf. Triclopyr should do quite well for you on clover, although clover is difficult to wet. Additional surfactant can solve that problem.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Would you say that triclopyr is relatively safe as far as how quickly it breaks down and health concerns (compared to 2,4-D, MCPP, & Dicamba). I liked what I had read about carfrentrazone... wish they had it as a stand alone product.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

If appropriate for the job, I would use triclopyr before quite a few other turf products. Excerpt from the link below: "The potential for leaching depends on the soil type, acidity and rainfall conditions. Triclopyr should not be a leaching problem under normal conditions since it binds to clay and organic matter in soil. Volatilization: very low. Soil Microorganisms: Triclopyr is slightly toxic to practically non-toxic to soil microorganisms. Aquatic Animals: Triclopyr is low in toxicity to fish. Terrestrial Animals: Triclopyr is slightly toxic to mammals. Triclopyr and its formulations have very low toxicity to birds. Triclopyr is non-toxic to bees. Based on the results of animal studies, triclopyr does not cause birth defects or cancer, and has little or no effect on fertility, or reproduction."

The link is to a much more complete assessment.

Here is a link that might be useful: triclopyr


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Well, you said its a small yard-
How about resodding and putting in a barrier at the perimeter.
You could have the soil amended before the new grass is put down.
I guess your neighbors would easily tolerate the time it takes for "improvement".
Just a thought that skips the chemicals altogether.

Im a clover person.
It would be sad if your some neighbors liked clover but were also afraid of having "low status" lawns.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

i see in this thread a person who wants to be somewhat environmentally concious by looking for a safe weed killer. The desire for that luscious green carpet is a social stigma and result of peer pressure as stated by the initial post.

However in order to achieve that luscious green carpet look, in addition to a safe weed killer, you will need to (as posted previously) water it regularly, mow it regularly, fertilize and pesiticide it occaisionally.
so a growing number of people view those lucious green carpets not only as a toxic wasteland of chemicals but as a waste of precious resources of potable water and fuel.

perhaps you are looking for a balance for what is socially acceptable in your neighborhood yet safe for your family, pets and the planet.

perhaps, a sign in your yard that states "this is a chemical free lawn, safe for children and pets" is one way of taking some of that peer pressure off by explaining the occurance of some weeds in your lawn and perhaps starting a conversation with your neighbors.

its a bold move to step away from the monocultural, sterile lawn that many people strive for. particularly in a townhouse development where everyone is so close and there is much scrutiny.

check out this link: http://www.for-wild.org/land/tufts_op.htm


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I have clover, goutweed, hawkweed, dandelions and several other as-yet unidentified weeds all though my lawn. Beleive it or not, I have one of the nicest lawns on my street. It is always green, never requires water or fertilizer. The only thing I do to my back yard is mow it. (even though it is my back yard, since I live in the city, it's not tucked away, it's just as visable as my front yard) I mow it once or twice a week at the highest setting possible on my mower. My neibour who spends at least one day a week doing "lawn work" has probably 90% grass, but it looks like crap. It's always half brown. He probably spends a lot of money on his lawn, but mine looks better. They key is to have everything evenly mixed. If you have all grass, and then one little patch of clover, sure thats going to look bad. But if you were to sow clover seeds, and mix it evenly wit the grass, it looks wonderful! I understand how you feel about having a nice lawn, but a nice lawn doesn't have to be 100% grass. The onlt problem I have is that some stuff grows faster than others, so just before I mow, it looks rough.

This picture is my back yard. It was taken last year and the lawn has evened out a lot since then. You can see a little bit in the middle right hand side the patchey brown-ness is my neibours lawn.

Here is a link that might be useful: My lawn last year


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

The problem for me has been patches of nothing but clover. Also I have patches where some type of light green weed is taking over. It looks like grass but has two blades for each plant and a purple base underground...I believe it is called nut grass? Anyway, when these things take over small areas they kill the regular grass make the lawn look patchy. Then in the winter they die off and leave thin muddy spots.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

if you rent a sod cutter you can remove the entire lawn fairly easily, since its small. Then: repave it with concrete, paint it green, and it will look perfect. no variation - no diversity - no interesting qualities whatsoever. that is the equivalent of the uniform kbg lawn.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Yeah or you could just import exotic lawn-eating grubs, plant poison ivy, and "think different" than the rest of us bad bad conformists.

I have a big bag of hand picked weeds I can fedex to you to make your lawn more intersting in the meantime.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Yikes, this thread has soured!

If its too expensive to resod the entire lawn, you can always buy a couple of grass turf rectangles at your local nursery (mine carrries) or a home improvement store. They are sort of 2ft x 4ft sized and can be rolled and put into a trash bag for easy transport.

You can use a shovel and cut out the areas that bother you, including roots, and patch with pieces from the new turf. Any raggedyness will blend in a short while.

Carry some of your grass to the store to make sure its a rough match. Alternatively, buy some seed that matches, grow your own replacement turf in a couple of flats and patch with that.

Water throughly, and stake em down tight with those landscape cloth U s. Then your kids can play asap.

Remove U s when roots fix so they don't come up later and wreck a mower.

Worm bins and tidy bin composters fit into even tiny back or side yards. Pop in your big bag o' weeds and lawn clippings and yard waste (most gardeners will cooperate) and make some great lawn fertilizers.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I wouldn't call most pesticides or herbicides safe..... they also sprayed mosquito killer.... ddt..... in the 60s and kids would run behind playing in the smoke..... untill they realized how dangerous it was.... duh..... I'm not about to risk my health or anyone elses for clover...... so I cn find out 20 years from now the damaging effects it has..... the pesticides not the clover that is....... ;) :) You can't control your neighbor but you can decide for yourself and be thoughtful about it...... AMericans use pesticides WAAAAAAAYYYYYY too much.... there's no question about it..... and I don't mind saying so..... offending a few is not as bad as saying nothing when one could be more informed...... it's information I'm trying to share...... for Viche's benefit and everyone elses...... There are NO safe chemical (pyrethrum etc. are different) pesticides or herbicides she can expose her children to..... That's all..... read these articles about the dangers of pesticides....... This information is not provided my some "crazy" enviromentalist group as many think all enviromentalists are but by a parenting online magazine and the cdc.......

http://www.parentsnest.com/home.php?page=index-further.html&board_id=308&row_offset=0&id=236180

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/factsheets/pesticides.htm


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I have been following this thread with interest. I'm also in the process of removing the clover from our lawn. I enjoy the lushness of a well-maintained, weed free lawn. I also have concern over herbicides/pesticides, etc. used inappropriately. I'm certainly not saying anyone posting on this thread would fall into the following category but I've noticed some astounding hypocracies in people around me...just a few highlights of my neighbors:

1.) Lawns are terrible things...you must fertilize, use pesticides/herbicides, etc. Turf grass uses too much water. They are nasty & evil for our environment. These folks are usually really adamant about their hatred for turf grass. They ignore or disregard the benefits of turf grass such as the enormously useful benefit of filtering dust/dirt/pollutents from the air, soil erosion control, turf grass cools the air temperature a lot acting as natural "air conditioners", turf grass absorbs noise, an average sized turf grass lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four, etc.
2.) These same folks use Preen all over their perennials beds and run for their hoses when draught threatens the prized perennials.
3.) These same folks go through a lot of the "blue stuff" fertilizing their pots of annuals, houseplants, etc.
4.) Should a beetle appear on their lilies, roses, etc. out comes the spray (name your product...doesn't matter...they use them all).
5.) They BBQ an occasional rib-eye on the grill (that DOES contribute towards heart disese, or so I'm told).
6.) They gobble-up the fries w/their burger at the arches place.
7.) Breakfast bar wrappers litter the floor of their cars.
8.) Their backyard furniture is made of redwood.

Some people are just plain predjudice against turf grass. It's not really the maintenance issues because these same people work their tails off tending flower gardens, pruning shrubs, digging new beds, etc.

I believe strongly in taking good care of our soil so we don't need too many chemicals to maintain good growth in our gardens. However, with that said...sometimes, something else is required. Harsh judgmental attitudes is rarely helpful or useful to anybody. It's also dangerous, lest we be judged.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Tricia,

Amen to that. Although many of the militant environmentalists on this forum probably aren't doing some of the things you mentioned (like pesticide sprays for beetles), they do seem to do more harm for the cause of spreading the word about responsible environmental practices than good with their sarcasm and judgementmental attitudes(ie: the post above about paving my lawn with concrete).

I started this thread. I am an average homeowner who is pretty moderate about environmental issues, but who is willing to learn about safe growing practices in order to protect my family. You would think that I represent the most valuable type of person to those strongly into the environmental movement, yet many of them turn me off. I come here for sound reasonable advice to my concerns and many times I get people judging my concerns as insignificant or wrong rather than being helpful and guiding me to environmentally-sound solutions. I have received some very helpful info, for which I am greatful, but sometimes the more militant answers make me want to throw up my hands and just go out and buy whatever is on sale at Home Depot. If these people really care about the environment then they would try to help me share their view rather than turn me away with their poor attitudes.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

This is a pretty interesting thread, to say the least. A lot of people have given you some good advice--others have been pretty good in preaching.

What I would do in your place is kill the clover with vinegar. Yes, plain old household vinegar. Put it in an old Windex bottle add a little dishsoap and spray the suckers in full sunlight. They will almost wilt in front of your eyes. The vinegar breaks down in the soil relatively quickly and would be gone in a few days. You could then resod or reseed those areas.

If you choose to resod, apply a product called corn gluten meal or CGM to the yard. Aside from fertilizing your lawn, it also acts a preemergent and prevents the clover from taking root in the first place. It is environmently safe and a byproduct of the milling process.

If you choose to reseed, applying CGM would not be applicable because it would also prevent the grass seed from germinating. After the grass germinates, you could apply CGM to your yard.

As others have suggested, mow your lawn near the highest settings. Also, make sure you have a mulching type mower or find a way to leave the grass clippings on the grass. It will also help fertilize the lawn.

I am not going to prejudge anyone. People make choices, sometimes correctly sometimes wrongly and have to live with them. The vinegar is an inexpensive solution. If you to Costco, a gallon of the stuff will cost you a buck. CGM can be found at a feed store or a garden supply store (not HD or Lowes though). It doesn't hurt to try it.

Just my 2 cents.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds) another

Forgot to add, if the regular vinegar doesnt work, get pickling vinegar--that is 10% compared to the normal vinegar which is 5%. Another solution is to pour boiling water on the clover--does a good job of killing the weeds grass, and insects everything except the dreaded bermuda grass out here which would survive a nuclear explosion.

Good Luck


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Let me get this in my head!!!!!!! you would rather put chemicals on your lawn to kill the clover and expose your family to lord knows what in the weed killer and have your family come down with cancers then to set back and let nature do it's thing??? ;d think twice real hard on this.??? Did you know clover is good in a salad


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I just want to say one thing in my own defense. I don't Hate turf grass, and I don't hate anyone that has nice lawns, however I also don't believe that a nice lawn has to be *grass* and only *grass*. I believe that the organic approach is best whenever possible. I try to avoid killing anything if I can (be it bugs, grass, weeds etc)

"They ignore or disregard the benefits of turf grass such as the enormously useful benefit of filtering dust/dirt/pollutents from the air, soil erosion control, turf grass cools the air temperature a lot acting as natural "air conditioners", turf grass absorbs noise, an average sized turf grass lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four, etc. "

While I agree with this, it still doesn't have to be *grass* many other plants work as well with less maintenance.

The OP asked for the safest weed killer, well the only truly safe weed killer is none at all. (even hand-pulling can break your back!! LOL)


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Annaneaves,

I don't think anyone had any problems with your post. Your lawn is beautiful. My situation was a little different in that the clover was quickly becoming the only plant in my lawn. Everyone who wants to have a nice garden or lawn has to make some type of decision as to what they would like growing there and I didn't want a 100% clover patch. Other than that, the only other "weed" intruding is the lighter green stuff which I called nutgrass. When winter comes, I believe the nutgrass dies and leaves mud....I don't want that.

Pickles: That's why I asked about "safe" ways of killing weeds. Are you telling me that I need to worry about CMG or vinegar (not the super strong stuff...I know about that)? If you had any specific information on actually data concerning the relative safety of different solutions, that might be helpful. But at this point I have to lump your post in with the guy who told me just to pave my front lawn with conrete.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

i would love for you to send me all of your hand picked weeds... they are what i use most for greens in my compost pile. too bad we dont live closer...hand picking of weeds can be effective and is the safest way to remove weeds. and fortunately continued picking is necessary before the weed exhausts its reserves.

sometimes its hard to post a sarcastic joke in these forums without someone getting offended...(my pave the planet comment)

i think alot of people here have given alot of good advice about organic lawn maintenance to minimize weed growth and its not a quick fix. slow and steady wins the race - with weeds in your lawn... mow high & mulch promotes the grass growth...hand pick your weeds... chemicals can kill the organic life in your lawn which makes it harder for grass to grow, which in turn makes it easier for new weeds to take the place of the ones that were killed with the chemicals... its a cycle...

most people who are promoting alternatives to a traditional lawn have gotten to that point by adopting a lifestyle that led them in that direction... all of those things on the double standard list posted previously would have been eliminated as part of a lifestyle - long before they ever elminated their lawn...


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Well if you were really joking, then ha ha. I guess it just seemed like more of a criticism.

Anyway, I mow high, mulch, water deeply when it's dry, seed and add organic matter top dressing once a year, and hand pick weeds.

But now I have two herniated disks and it's becoming impossible to keep picking. I'm also fighting Japanese Beetle Grubs for which I've recently applied nematodes and milky spore(both at twice the recommended rate)....hope it actually works, because the brown spots are beginning to grow. You'd think that in a just universe, someone who works so hard to give his lawn what it needs would be rewarded with a nice lawn, but it ain't happening.

I just can't seem to win the battle against the grubs, clover and that light green grassy looking stuff. Nothing organic has worked. I must admit I am a little jealous of the lawns no more than 100 ft from me which are thick green and weed free.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I really think that if you looked at a lot of healthy lawns, you would see there are other plants in there besides grass, but when you mow at a good height, it looks uniform and lush. My lawn is about 50% grass and looks as good as my neighbors.


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RE: the lawn

P.S. better actually. No brown spots.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Well its been almost two weeks after Nematode and Milky Spore application and the grubs are just fatter and still kickin. I applied 10 million Hb in the proper manner to a 220 square foot piece of lawn.....twice the normal dosage and it had no affect as far as I can tell. I put milky spore ever 2.5 feet and extra on the edges of the brown spots. I know the stuff takes time to spread, but you'd think it would do something if I pour it directly over the area where the grubs are munching. GrubX is calling my name and it's getting louder and louder. This is the second year that I've tried bio-controls and they are doing nothing.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

"I really think that if you looked at a lot of healthy lawns, you would see there are other plants in there besides grass, but when you mow at a good height, it looks uniform and lush. My lawn is about 50% grass and looks as good as my neighbors."

Well you can tell when all you have is clover because the clover is so low to the ground that you really don't cut off many of it's heads when you mow it.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Milky spore does not always work immediately. SOmetimes it's months. Sometimes it will not kill the grub at all, just keep it from becoming a beetle next spring. If you want grass and only grass, you are going to have to either poison the turf or go hydroponic like the golf courses do.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Dollmaker,

Ahh..... great segway. What DO the golf corses do to have perfect grass? I always assumed that they used tons of chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides....is this not so? What do you mean by hydroponic and is this the method that most gold courses use?

Thanks!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I don't golf, so I don't see many courses, but I have talked to a landscaper who maintains a few in Maine. It's not cheap but at least it won't give your dachshund cancer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydroponic turf


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Well hate to tell you this but, the golf courses seem a lot more dangerous than my neighbor's lawns. From that website you sent me:

"To this mix is added a variety of herbicides (to kill weeds that try to move in), pesticides (to control insect damage) and fungicides (to control disease) to help keep the grass perfect.

Once the green is established, you start in on maintenance. This includes daily mowing with a precision green mower, watering, fertilizing, applying chemicals, aerating, and general coddling."

Guess I'll stick to trying to achieve a decent looking lawn instead of a golf-course quality lawn. You know, I did read an article on merit (Grub-X) showing the studies done with it. Even when they fed it in mass amounts to animals, there were barely any ill effects. It is broken down within a few days to stuff like carbon dioxide and water as well. Maybe if I apply it only around the brown areas and stay off the lawn for a week, I'll be ok.


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RE: hydroponic lawn

I was thinking you would not need all the poisons on a home lawn because hand-pulling would take care of the weeds.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

  • Posted by Jonesy z6 midwest (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 19, 04 at 12:12

I don't understand the "Safe" chemicals thing, none are safe. I just saw in the news this week that the insides of our HOMES are in the top 5 most toxic places to be. Because of the chems we clean with.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and123 other weeds)

  • Posted by Jonesy z6 midwest (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 19, 04 at 12:26

I am sorry, don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and spike can pull this if he wants, I am on a rant here. I don't use chems on my lawn or shrubs except for bagworms on my evergreens. I don't kill anything unless I have to. That includes gophers, moles, grubs....I think nature's way is the best. When I am left with total care of my home and yard which will be soon, the yard will be last on my list of priorities. In the spring I see many yards covered with lovely purple flowering weeds, or yellow with dandelion blooms, what does it hurt. It's all in the eye of the beholder. When we walk we see a yard that is all natural, rocks, cactus, wildflowers and bermuda growing all through it, who cares. If the owner likes it more power to him. My neighbor/friend gets out every morning with buckets and picks up the balls her sweet gum drops on the ground over night. What a waste of time. I like clover, my uncle had a clover lawn in Calif, it was called dicondra or something like that. Mow it twice a year. I guess I sound frustrated and I am, because I know about priorities, my husband has alzheimers. The orig poster needs to be thankful she only has clover to worry about.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Dolley- no weed picking for me....herniated disks, remember?

Jonesy. First of all I'm not a she. Secondly, why try to save your evergreens? Let nature do its thing....it's best that way right? Who cares if they are damaged or look unhealthy, or even if they die? Something else will surely grow there. Obviously I'm joking. I agree that "it's all in the eye of the beholder" and what the owner likes, but mine is the eye which beholds, and I don't like what I see. I'm sorry to hear that your husband has alzheimers, but you really don't know what I have to worry about in my life. Besides, worries shouldn't stop anyone from doing what they want to do. Once we give up setting and achieving goals, no matter how small, it's all over. Isn't that why you still fight the bagworms?


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

  • Posted by Jonesy z6 midwest (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 19, 04 at 15:42

The difference is I don't worry about it.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Oh I hear ya on the back thing. I have arthritis and I can't kneel at all. I do a lot of weeding from a low lawn chair and I make sure there is a cane nearby to help me get up out of it. (at the ripe old age of 45! My mother is more physically fit than I am!:P) I took an awesome class at Maine Garden Day this year from a lady with MS. She showed photos of how she tools around on her Jazzy (a sit-down scooter can be had from Pep Boys for a few hundred bucks, versus thousands for the jazzy) She lengthened all her tool handles with PVC and she looks like a polo player when she's weeding. Another alternative - can you get someone to pull it out for you or dig up that section of turf, then go over it with grass seed? It's a constant battle, but even for people who use poisons, it is a constant battle. If you do invest in a scooter, she says to make sure it has a wide floor so it won't short out or get tangled in wet grass.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

P.S. Viche, why didn't I think of this before - if you mentioned a budget I did not see it, but what if you dig the whole thing up and replace with rolled turf, then start using corn gluten meal 4 times a year? It stops seeding. The only thing I have not found it to stop is oxalis (yellow wood sorrell), which was already firmly established in my yard for many years. Even runner-ing weeds would have to seed in first before spreading, unless you have neighbors with a lot of creeping charlie etc.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions Dollmaker. I think I will just have to wait until we move and do exactly what you said. If I were to use CMG now, I'd never get grass to grow back in the spots where I've managed to up root weeds or in the brown grub spots. And I really don't feel like tearing everything up and laying sod. I'm going to try to keep pulling weeds as best I can. If I get a big patch of clover growing agian I will spot treat with a LITTLE chemical just to thin it down. As for the grubs, I've contacted the company and they are probably going to send me some more nematodes since the first ones didn't work too well. I will pour all 10 million of them right onto and around the grub areas....that should teach them. Besides that, I guess I'll give the milky spore some time, and just try to convince my wife to help me over-seed this fall.

Speaking of over-seeding, I have 3 questions:
1. What's the best time of fall/winter to do it?
2. Do I need to keep it steadily moist like in the spring or is the point to get the seeds to work the way down into the soil and sprout next spring?
3. Does anyone know of a hardy grass which will survive the heat? I live in Maryland an I believe my lawn is mostly tall fescue. I planted some Turf Sciences Sunny Mixture seed and while it was incredibly dense (yet thin-bladed) and lush at first, it quickly began to brown and die off even after 3 mowings. I'd have to keep that stuff watered constantly to keep it green. What's the best out their for my application?

Thanks


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I don't know what kind of seeds to use, but the co-operative extension in your area will be able to tell you that and the best planting time. Usually it's fall, even though the seed companies push their merchandise in spring. One good method is to rough up the soil (not necessary to till) and add organic matter if you have any. Spread the seeds generously but not in globs or it will compete with itself and be weak. Maybe 15 seeds psi. Roll it or tamp it, then you can cover it with hay that's been certified weed-free. Water often and when the grass is tall enough to rake, you can pull off the hay. Have the same kind of grass seed handy (a new suply if it goes out of date) So you can be ready to toss it into the hole wherever you dig out any weeds.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Viche,

I can't debate the relative safety of various herbicides, but I have learned a few things from university turf professionals. First, using vinegar is not all that safe, and ineffective since it just burns the tops of weeds. The same is pretty much true of Spring applications of 2,4-D and other standard herbicides. Things are moving up in the plants during the Spring! A weed control specialist told us at a recent seminar, "Say good-bye to broadleaf perennial weeds the same way you say good-bye on a CB radio--10-4 good buddy!" His point was the best time to apply was around the first week in October (here in southern Michigan--adjust to just after the first hard frost wherever you are). He said two Fall applications will result in near 100% control of dandelions, clover, and many others. He recommended any typical "three way" herbicide (2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba).

By the way, he also said that trichlopyr is not very good on clover, but is excellent for ground ivy and violets. These latter two have purple flowers, and so does the label on Ortho's trichlopyr product. What a coincidence.

A.J.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I just wanted to sneak in here and make a comment. My lawn is mostly clover and I wouldn't mind at all except that I get stung several times over the course of the summer. (I'm sitting here right now with 2 swollen feet from 2 bee stings in 2 days, lol!)

As someone pointed old, the mower doesn't rid the lawn of most of the flowers on the clover. I've been stung at least 8 x's this summer...which is up about 3 from last yr. Year before last I was stung 3 x's in one day. I don't have small children but when my friends bring their children over they sometimes get stung as well.

So there...that's my only gripe about clover.

I'll hobble back over to my favorite chair now and twiddle my thumbs till the swelling goes down.

:)


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Peggy, that is a whole lot of stings. I would not be a happy camper. And you're sure it's bees, not yellow jackets? Yellow jackets will nest in the ground and they are very aggressive. Woe betide anyone wearing shorts who hits a y-j nest with the mower.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Dollmaker, I have to admit that I walk around barefoot alot...which is, I'm sure why I get stung so much. It's bees...honey bees and bumble bees. Bee's just love me, what can I say? My cat loves me (smile) and he bites me too!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

LOL I have a bitey cat too, I didn't know it was a compliment! :D


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Use a weed n feed to get stuff under control, then spot spray with a triclopyr or 24d-based product (the triclopyr-based stuff may work a little better).

Clover and medick will grow even when the grass is growing well and it's thick. They will grow when nitrogen levels are good. It's an aggressive non-native. U just need to keep after it if you don't want it in your yard.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Well Viche,

Seems like you've had alot of information coming your way concerning your lawn (most of it good, I'd say). If you want your picture perfect lawn, made of turfgrass, you probably realize by now that it will require a committment of time and money.

When clover volunteers itself in a lawn, it often does so in spreading patches as you have described. Yes, you can kill it...but you will also need to reseed your grass right away, so as not to let other weeds move in. Because of clover's nutritive qualities, even if you use the exact seed mixture as the original lawn, it will never look the same in those spots (at least not for several years)...having a spotty effect of different color and texture.

Your best bet will be to rip up the lawn and put down sod. This can be expensive but will provide a beautiful field of green. But maintaining species that are not indigenous can also be alot of work.

Yes, mowing high is important and easy enough, but mowing often is critical as this removes many stems of weeds (almost all are annuals) before they produce flowers and seeds. This breaks their reproduction cycle.

And most folks know that watering turfgrass is important, however, HOW one waters is actually critical. Most turfgrasses are perennial and therefore come back to life above ground from their roots. By design, they have much deeper root systems than their annual 'weedy' neighbors. Contrary to popular belief and practice, during dry periods DO NOT water your lawn. By not watering, you are encouraging the turfgrass to deepen its root system and become drought tolerant. During a long hot summer period of no rain, keep an eye out for browning tips on the blades of grass...if you see browning, water deeply (at dusk so as not to scorch from magnifying the summer sun). When it only rains a little amount and the forecast doesn't predict much more, that's the time to get out the sprinklers and saturate. Give the grass the advantage. I'm sorry to say that the clover happens to be one of the few drought tolerant 'weeds'...but I thought I'd mention the watering anyway.

Fertilizing is also important, but so often over utilized. I prefer a good organic lawn fertilizer such as Espoma lawn food. Organics break down slowly, feeding your lawn over a longer period of time and will not burn. Synthetics give the 'rush' of food, but can burn if over applied. They also seep quickly through soil (especially in sandy soil) thus adding more unwanted phosphates to local water sheds.

Those funny spiked shoes can be very useful I've heard in aeration of the soil...although I've yet to try that myself. I guess the bottom line is that the key to healthy lawn is really about maintenance. A healthy lawn, just like a healthy person, resists infestations of bugs or weeds. Nature has an interesting way of attacking anything not healthy.

And on that note, I'll leave you all with wishes of good health...whether you choose to clover or not!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Sunraven,

Thanks for the thourough response! I will take all of your advice to heart.

Here's another question about fertilizing. I ordered some WOW! Plus from Garden's Alive. It's Corn Meal Gluten with additional organic fertilizers. I believe the ratio is 10:1:1. I put the stuff just as Forsythia were beginning to start blooming as the instructions said, but so far I'm not sure that it is really preventing weeds. I still see them popping up here and there. Secondly, since this an organic fertilizer, would it be unhealthy for my lawn to continue to put it down every 4 weeks through the summer? They say that the more I put down the more it will fight weeds. Supposedly it won't burn my grass, but I was wondering if it is possible to overfertilize with organic feritilizers.

Thanks,
Viche

Thanks!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Corn meal gluten was discovered by the Universtity of Iowa to prevent the germination of seed and has become more widely used in the last few years. The gluten itself offers nitrogen in small amounts...I was not aware that it contains phosphorus and potash (perhaps added to make a patented mixture), but if the bag says 10-1-1, you don't have to worry too much about about phosphate content(which is detrimental to water tables). Plus, organics breakdown slowly, feeding your lawn more continously with alot less leeching. Don't expect dramatic results the first year. I used it once in the fall of 2003, twice in 2004 and again just a week ago. This weekend (4/30) will probably be my first mowing of the season and I can say that the only weed I see is some crabgrass along the edges of a couple new, un-mulched flower beds. So I do believe that the effects are begining to show... but I also do handpicking of weeds. I also think of clover as not a weed, but a great contributor to a lawn's health. I have even planted a clover lawn 35'x15' in my back yard last week to reclaim a waist-high weed patch. Overall, I prefer to put alot more of my energy into my vegetable and flower beds than my lawn. But I am diligent in my simple mowing and watering practices (mentioned in the previous post) and neighbors are beginning to notice the results. I wish you well in your corn meal experiment....keep me 'posted'...


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Thanks Sunraven.

I live in a townhouse community and all of my neighbors are stopping by my lawn too (as they continue to pour chemicals and posions on theirs!) Do you have an answer as to whether or not it is healthy for the lawn to continue adding more CMG (it is a proprietary mix with added organic fertilizer to get the 10:1:1 mix) every 4 to 6 weeks? Or is that overfertilizing it?

Also, I'm assuming you don't overseed in the fall if you are using CMG then?


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

has anyone tried the weedhound on the oxalis? i'm skeptical as it seems as though it would pull up the surrounding grass since it has so many runners...bz


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I'm no expert but the people on this forum have answered my similar question reg CGM and I was told that since CGM stops seeds from germinating (all seeds) then you don't use it when you are going to reseed. In general the organic folks suggets CGM pre-immergently in the spring then switching to Corn Meal (not Corn GLUTEN Meal they are two different things) for the 3 or so fertilizer applications a year. You can use the Corn Meal and reseed pretting much at the same time it apparently won't harm anything.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I have 1/4 of my lawn now clover. I got stung by one of the bees. I want clover gone. I want bees gone. I have pets who roam that lawn. I need to know the best way to get rid of clover and keep the dogs and the pig healthy. Only reason it is still growing is because I refuse to use a weed killer because I know that it is dangerous for them. Would it work to cover with tarp and let it die, then go in and plant grass over the dead clover?????


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

If you do that, odds are that the clover will come back. If you're willing to sacrifice the grass in that area, then try using a 1 to 1 solution of vinegar and water.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

2,4-D worked on my white clover. Works great, got rid of the deer also. Highly recommend it.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Thanks for all the suggestions...can't believe this thread still get's responses. I've been using Weed-B-Gone Oxalis Chickweed and Clover to kill the chickweed and clover in my yard. The active ingredient is Triclopyr. Seems relativley safe, but watch out for the trees and bushes in your yard. If you get this on roots or leaves it can damage or kill them. Park services uses this as a stump killer. I've stayed away from 2,4-D. Read too many negative things about it safety.

This fall I'm going to try to use a pre-emergent to stop chickweed from ever coming up. Anyone know when the stuff germinates in Maryland? I'm assuming late fall through winter.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Wow, and to think that last year during the drought, I was seriously considering doing away with my grass and letting clover cover the whole yard. I may do it yet one of these days. It's not unattractive and it's fairly drought-tolerant. To each his own, I guess.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Hmmm, one of the metabolites of Triclopyr is a known carcinogen, but since the EPA's assesment of the risk this will only adversly affect 1 percent of the adult population and only 3 percent of the infant population, through the drinking water, when used as directed by the EPA. So heck, if only 280,000 adults are going to get that cancer it is okay to use that product.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Yeah but when you compare those stats to the stats on most other herbicides, especially 2,4-D Dicamba combinations, it's relatively a lot safer. I live in an area where everyone is on public water, so unless me or the kids drink from a stream (which do not exist anywhere near my house) we should be ok. Triclopyr is approved for bodies of water where swimming is allowed. I'm not saying this means that the chemical is "safe," but it's better than using something that even the EPA won't allow in swimming water.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Hum. This spring I had alot of while clover in my yard along with various broadleaf weeds. I got it out but it took two applications of different weed killers. Keep in mind you can't seed when you use that stuff. So, guess what? It was a extremely rainy spring and CRABGRASS filled in the bare spots. I'd rather had the clover!. That's the trouble with weed killers. They only seem to work if you don't have too many weeds and a healthy green lawn that will quickly fill in the bare spots.
So, I'm doing what I should've done in the first place. Mulch mow high. Proper watering. Gonna mulch alot of leaves this fall into my yard (but not at one time!) Overseed like crazy this fall, and again in the spring to beat the crabgrass. I need a better grass in the yard anyway. (Wish I had the funds to aerate) I need to fix the problem in my soil (heavy clay) and then perhaps the weeds will take care of themselves. Just my experience :)


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I loved reading all of these threads. Great job people.. nice discussions.

Now I do like myself a nice lawn, and I do weed and feed my lawn. I also let clover and whatever other weeds that don't die grow. I use to bag my grass, but now I just let the clippings fall.

So here's my problem. I have a small channel/creek running through my back yard. There were two small muskrats this past winter eating the grass and roots next to my neighbors house. When the 2 feet of snow melted I found my 3 year old lawn destroyed. You could see the little paths they had under all the snow. Dont make me tell you how much money I spent trying to get grass to grow in my horrible acidic soil.

So now what do I do about these muskrats???

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Jay


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RE: Weed-B-Gone (was -- Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and

Hi, new at posting here. I hope my post in this thread is appropriate. I'm getting ready to use Weed-B-Gone. I've read to be careful around ornamental plantings and tree roots. Does this mean be careful not to spray the leaves of the ornamentals & trees and any exposed roots, and/or don't spray grass near them due to runoff getting into the ground when it rains (if that does happen), or??? Also, is a breathing mask recommended? I understand the label's other precautions but a little unclear of these above things. Thanks for any info.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

After reading all the comments I have a question regarding Clover. I like it! Would white clover grow well in South Eastern Canada.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Safest way to get rid of clover is to prepare the soil below it to be more compatible to grass and use a Tall Fescue with deeper roots. NEVER EVER let the white clover flowers fall to the ground. I either hand pick them or mow with a bag over them. I then use mulching lawn mover on rest of lawn to give it Nitrogen.

If you prepare the soil so it isn't compacted and apply an extra amount of NITROGEN over the clover the grass will win out. Clovers whole purpose is that it produces Nitrogen in places where it is lacking and where grass is thin.

When I;m really bored, I sometimes sit there and pick out the long Clover tendrils and compost them. Best time to do this is right before fall and then add some compost and then reseed those areas with TALL FESCUE!!!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

There is only one true safe way. Get out a serrated kitchen knife. Pull the clover up gently until you see where it goes into the ground. Stick your knife down as far as it will go and gently lift the root. If you get all the root you will see a long 2 to 3 " fine root hair on the bottom of the clump.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

the lawn care companies are using a product called "Fiesta." My research has revealed that this is nothing more than chelated iron, a fertilizer used to increase the iron deficiency in plants. I can't find anything toxic about it, although the forums state that you should keep animals and kids inside until it dries, as the solution will stain clothing. When applied in strong quantities, it kills weeds and especially, clover. I've been experimenting with mixing the powder with water and applying. The first application did nothing...that was about 5 mg to 5 litres of water sprayed directly on the weeds. I did it again yesterday using 25 mgs to 5 litres and actually saw browning leaves on it this morning.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Ron Canada, White Dutch Clover grows very well in southestern Canada. I have seen if growing around Stratford, Niagra, Toronto, and numerous places in between.
pondgal, Iron is an essential micro nutrient, In doses much above that micro amount Iron becomes a plant poison. Too much will kill plants.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

I like Clover and purchased 5 lbs of white clover this summer, to overseed the lawn in the fall. Clover is pretty and a good companion to grass, fixing nitrogen and putting weeds at bay. It spreads a little into the garden beds, and the flowers attract bees and butterflies, which I don't mind but some people may be allergic to bee stings. Those are the only relatively minor negatives I can think of.

Okay, now this is not meant to judge or preach, but this is what I really think:

Someday in the not too distant future, when oil is $150 a barrel and fresh water becomes increasingly scarce around the globe, people will look back and wonder what the hell we were doing in the late 20th and early 21st century. Squandering huge amounts of precious natural resources like water and petroleum on turf grass! Poisoning our environment and putting children, pets, and wildlife at risk to kill clover! And about 200 thousand other examples of insanity.


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

  • Posted by jpc57 coastal Virginia (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 27, 11 at 19:17

I use crimson clover in our lawn on purpose, and as a cover crop in the raised beds over the winter. I couldn't fathom using an herbicide, esp. if kids would play in the area. Clover does so much good, hopefully folks will learn that. Glad I have my own property and don't have lawn police hovering!


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Sorry. This will be a long one. It always is with me. (blushing)

I'm with the OP on this one. Even if no one but me ever saw my lawn, I would want it to be dark, rich green GRASS...and nothing else. (I'm known for wanting everything to be beautiful. I'm also a bit of a home body, and enjoy spending time in my yard. Many guests have remarked that, no matter where they look (on my property), there's always something beautiful. I'm always taken aback by those comments, since while that was MY goal, I never expected others to pick up on it.)

Case in point about the intentional act of putting down grass, and not other (lower maintenance) plants. I own a small, remote island. I made the decision to create a lawn area and, once you include the slow-moving barge fees (3 days to get from its port to the island), labour, equipment, and materials, that lawn cost me $14,000.

That obviously begs the question, why, on earth, would anyone spend a nickel putting in expensive, high-maintenance grass, only to let it be taken over by clover and other weeds???

My husband and I recently purchased a 19th century farmhouse in need of roof-to-foundation renovation. As such, I inherited a lawn that is EASILY 70% weeds, including clover so thoroughly interwoven, it would be impossible to pull by hand.

I pride myself on my beautiful lawns and gardens, and can spend/have sent hours, each day, ensuring everything is healthy and how I want it. At my last home, I developed a bit of a reputation for being out weeding my lawn by hand for hours, plus how awesome my expansive lawn was. My point is, I want my lawn and gardens to be a certain way; plant the plants I want; pull the plants I don't want; unafraid to put-in the effort to achieve that.

I prefer not to use any kinds of "chemicals", other than the ammonia and mild soap I include in my homemade fertilizer recipe. (My last home was a beach house. So, that only reinforced my desire to go chemical-free.)

But this new-to-me house is demoralizing me...practically to the point of tears, much of it because of the state of the (laughing) "landscaping". Sure, mowing can cut off 60% of the sea of clover flowers that make my lawn look white (or dying...can't decide which). But there are still lower flowers that seem to sprout up to full height within the next 24hrs after a mow. These flowers last from late spring to fall. In short, I'm plagued by clover flowers throughout the entire season I want my lawn to look great.

It's just such a shame the previous owners didn't nip the clover in the bud, when each plant was jut a little, round cluster. I love catching them early, knowing I've stopped additional infiltration. But I'm helpless, overall. Looks like I'll have to replace the entire lawn; start from scratch; do what the previous owners SHOULD have done, and pulled weeds when I first see them.

I'm not really buying the whole "benefits of clover" thing, amidst a grass lawn. If I wanted a clover lawn, I would plant a clover lawn. Putting down and maintaining grass is an expense in time and resources. Clover is virtually free (since it shows up on the wind), and is seemingly mantenance-free. Since most sod and grass seed are sold with some guarantee of being weed- (and clover-) free, I just don't believe that most people who spend the money and effort to put in a grass lawn, are okay with losing any percentage of it to other, invasive, undesirable plants. I kind of liken it to suggesting that a Ferrari owner would be okay with someone switching it with a Cavalier, and just saying, 'They both get me from point A to point B, so I don't mind.'

I can fully envision putting in other kinds of ground cover, and have considered it at past properties. Not being my first rodeo, I already have substantial plans to reduce the amount of lawn area, and increase planting beds. But much of this current property begs for a beautiful, thick, dark green lawn...of grass. No dandelions. No clover, but particularly no clover flowers. (I'd be more okay with clover, if not for the flowers.)

The desperation was so great, I did something I thought I'd never do, and tried the iron-based WEED-B-GONE product. (Harsh, chemical herbicides have been banned in my area for years...resulting in public parks being taken over by weeds, for the most part. It's such a shame, in the sense that a healthy, well-maintained lawn is not only beautiful, but fantastic underfoot.) That is really my philosophy, beyond the aesthetic. A lawn should be cool, soft, and luxurious under bare feet. Weeds, even overgrown grass, also tend to make barefoot walking less than a joy.

So far, I haven't found a way to get rid of mats of clover. The WEED-B-GONE did nothing I could notice. I'm at my rope's end on ths matter, and likely will have to pull up the entire lawn, to put down new, almost-weed-free sod, where I can physically manage pulling individual weeds as they appear.

I guess I'd plead with people to pull unwanted clover plants when they're small... if not for yourself, then for the next property owner. Sure, it means time, every day, or every few days, combing the lawn, looking for weeds. Yes, it can be back-breaking and time-consuming. But that grass lawn didn't get there by accident. A grass lawn is intentional.


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grass and weed killer

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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

You can safely use an herbicide in areas where kids play so long as you follow package directions -- meaning you do not let kids back into the area usually until after the product has dried (and probably another 24 hours just for added safety). I don't understand the paranoia some of you have about herbicides. Once they dry, their residues will not transfer to people.

It seems that people have manufactured a fear of pesticides based on nothing but conjecture. The primitive logic involved usually argues that you can never touch something that is chemically treated because the chemicals will somehow go into you and cause cancer (or something else?). If there is good, peer-reviewed scientific evidence out there that using pesticides according to package directions is harmful to your health, I would love to see it. Otherwise, it is all just fear-mongering with no evidence to support it.

I am not trying to change anyone's opinion. I don't use weed killers (synthetic or natural) because I feel they are a waste of time; Garden weeds are easier to just pull and lawn weeds are indicative of other problems (like not enough sun or acid soil, for example). You should do whatever you feel is best. However, it does puzzle me that people are so entrenched in their opinions with nothing to support them but some loose association between the words "chemical" and "bad."


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

Hiya, mistascott!

Where I live, herbicides and most pesticides have been banned for residential use.

Myself, I'm cool with this because lawn run-off goes into storm drains, which goes directly into lakes and other water supplies (unlike household waste water, which goes to a sewage treatment plant, first). There, it can harm aquatic plants and animals, while finding its way back into our drinking water.

My last residence was a beach house. Long before the government banned herbicides, I was weeding by hand, because it was obvious anything I put on my lawn would go directly into Lake Ontario. Two countries and millions of people get their drinking water from it, not to mention all the aquatic life. When the ban went into effect, nothing changed for me and, to be frank, it's the right thing to do. (We can't keep poisoning everything. There's ample evidence that many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, and are significantly affecting male development.)

I have different weed problems at my new house (which, ironically, is just a couple of blocks from Lake Ontario), plus I've inherited a poorly-kept lawn. It's slowly improving, but at the expense of my knees/back/wrists... :D The idea of a quick fix is tantalizing. (So desperately tantalizing, as I write this after several more hours of weeding, today.) But I'm past the point of viewing toxic chemicals as being harmless, or even beneficial.

Good luck! :D


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RE: Safest weed killer for lawns (clover and other weeds)

mistascott, I do not have a manufactured "fear" of these poisons, just one based on reading research that shows these products are not as innocuous as the manufacturers would lead you to believe. Every year there is more evidence that shows these poisons are doing great harm to our environment and is one of the reasons Ontario has banned the use of most of them.


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