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Controlling Weeds

Throughout history, weeds have been the bane of all gardeners. They take up valuable real estate and spread aggressively, “stealing” the water and nutrients intended for your desirable plants. But wait. Which plants are weeds and which are desirable? It depends on your viewpoint.

It’s difficult to classify a weed. There is no “Weedus” genus into which all undesirable plants are lumped. In fact, weeds that one person wants to get rid of others want to cultivate. Many gardeners, for example, classify Queen Anne’s lace as a weed. However, florists buy the lacey blooms and use them extensively in flower arrangements. Even the dandelion has its share of advocates. They make dandelions into wine and use the leaves in salads. So, weeds are like junk – one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

Once you have identified which plants in your landscape are weeds, the next step is to keep them under control. But how? You only have two control methods – mechanical and chemical. Mechanical control is the good old fashioned method of pulling weeds, although there are some modern tools that can help. Chemical control is the use of organic or synthetic herbicides.

Horticultural vinegar is becoming a popular herbicide among organic gardeners. This product, however, is not plain old household vinegar. The active ingredient, acetic acid, in horticultural vinegar is from grain rather than fruit. More importantly, household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid, rendering it ineffective. A study by Oregon Cooperative Extension found that at least 10% active ingredient is necessary. At higher concentrations, the acid in horticultural vinegar can burn your skin.

Rather than relying on untested, illegal home remedies, legal horticultural vinegar is available at garden centers. Like its most common synthetic counterpart, glyphosate (Roundup), horticultural vinegar is nonselective. This means that it will kill any plant it touches. It should be noted that horticultural vinegar carries a “Danger” warning while glyphosate only carries a “Caution.”

If you don’t want to make the selection and worry about all the legal and technical aspects of weed control, you can call us and we can take care of it for you.

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