Alternative Weed Control Methods

There is nothing worse than constantly pulling weeds around existing plants or keeping on top of those little seedling weeds that pop up around new plantings. There is an alternative to pulling those weeds and spraying. You can lay out a landscape fabric weed cloth over the top of the soil and around the plants.

These fabrics are made of woven polypropylene, spun-bonded polyethylene or a combination of other synthetic materials. Keep in mind that the more dense the fabric, the better it keeps down the weeds. Because the fabric is porous, air, liquid fertilizers and water can get down to the root systems of the plants. They work great when used in permanent plantings around trees and shrubs where you’re not changing plants. There’s a little bit more work involved laying the fabric around existing plants as compared to starting with a new landscape.

Pull out any existing weeds before you start, or spray them with a herbicide. Wait for a calm day to lay out the fabric, or you might be doing some kite flying instead.

Roll out the fabric, and figure out where you need to cut. Overlap each strip about 3 inches or so to prevent any weeds from trying to pop up. Then anchor the fabric with plastic pegs or staples. When planting new plants, put a piece of tarp next next to the holes you are going to make, so you can pile the soil on top of the tarp instead of the fabric. You need to keep soil off the top of the fabric, or else you’ll have weeds growing on top of it.

After you’re done, cover the fabric with any kind of organic mulch. Not only will the mulch keep the sun from breaking down the fabric, it will help conserve soil moisture. You either could mix in a slow-release fertilizer at planting time or use a water-soluble type, and pour it through the fabric.

Here’s the recipe once again for powdery mildew on roses, zinnias, and so forth.

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of horticultural oil
  • 2 drops of liquid dish detergent
  • 1 gallon of water

Test the spray on a couple of leaves first to make sure it won’t burn the plant. If there’s no sign of damage, spray the entire plant. It’s best to spray very early in the morning or in the early evening. Reapply the spray to new growth as needed.

This spray won’t give 100 percent control, but it will help.