AnimalBabe
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Best way to control weeds

Hi! I am hoping to plant wildflowers in a roughly 15'x10' area of my yard but that particularly area has a ton of huge weeds. I went out there and sprayed some weed control liquid, but what to do next? Should the area be tilled, would you put down fabric or paper? I have no idea how to work a section this large. Similarly, I want to plant tomatoes in another section of my yard, which has a lot fewer weeds, is mainly dirt, and has some compost added in from last year...what would your recommend for that area? I am not going to box in that area (i.e. a raised bed). I'm really clueless about how to prepare these areas, so any help is much appreciated. Thanks!

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hendi_alex
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I use mulched 3 foot landscape fabric to define the border of such areas in the yard. The landscape fabric keeps the grass from encroaching on the area. Weeds present a different challenge, as the seeds move in no matter what you do. If not opposed to using additional herbicides, you may want to consider a per-emergent such as treflan, to kill the seeds that are in the soil. Without treating the soil, every time that the plot is raked or disturbed, fresh seeds will move to near the surface and begin to sprout. To cut down on the weeding, I also subdivide my planting areas with mulch covered landscape fabric walk ways. Then if plants are placed pretty thickly in the open areas between, the weeds have a hard time competing. Still, no matter what, if you have a relatively open area, the weed seeds will move in and will need to be pulled or otherwise killed, if their presence in the bed bothers you.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

AnimalBabe
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Thanks for that quick response! So with the fabric, I just cut it and lay it down and cover that with mulch? I like the idea of using it in rows, especially if you want to walk between vegetable plants. If I put that down now, that will stifle the weeds underneath it or should I spray again or put another weed killer down first? Is this Treflan you mentioned bad to use in areas that I will be putting down vegetables? Thanks again!

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skiingjeff
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When we started flower beds several years ago, we used landscape fabric to hold down weeds and covered with mulch. I like the border idea but have found the fabric to be troublesome if placed throughout the planting area. When I want to plant more items in later years in the area, you have to cut and remove the fabric to dig the planting holes.

So now we use the mulch - about 1 to 1 1/2 inches - and a pre-emergennt. We tend to use Preen in our area and it really helps limit the amount of weeds each year.

Good luck! :)

AnimalBabe
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So I just googled Treflan and it makes me a little nervous to use that. What about using newspaper covered with mulch? I've heard of people doing this, (I'm assuming for weed control?)--do you have to till that later, or it just disintegrates into the soil? Please advise.

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skiingjeff
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I'm not familiar with the Treflan but preen is safe with vegetables and they have an organic variety if you prefer. Many gardeners, like my father-in-law just use either grass clippings or mulch between their plants for walk areas to keep weeds down. Hope this helps. :)

WildcatNurseryman
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I use Treflan every day and have no ill effects. As a matter of fact I know at least a dozen people who use it at least 4-5 times a week in the Spring. One of the "alarming" advise-givers from the internet didn't even know that the product is granular, instead believing it to be liquid (although large-scale commercial growers can purchase liquid). Simply wear a pair of gloves. It is also about two times longer lasting than Preen.

As for the landscape fabric- Sod pins are very helpful in that they keep the fabric from shifting around as it tends to do with-out.

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rainbowgardener
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Treflan active ingredient is trifluralin, which has been banned in Europe since 2008. It can be absorbed through the skin as well as breathed in and it can contaminate food. It is a suspected carcinogen in humans and is known to be toxic to dogs and other animals.

https://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/wastemin/minimize/factshts/triflur.pdf

Trifluralin is a widely used herbicide which is a suspected carcinogen. In some countries its use is increasing, while in other countries [me -- all the European union I think] it is banned for its persistence and its threat to ecosystems. ... Trifluralin is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to both the UK Environment Agency and the World Wide Fund for Nature. These chemicals have adverse, ‘gender-bender’ effects by interfering with the body’s hormones, or chemical messengers, and are active at even miniscule levels ... Trifluralin residues in the atmosphere of remote, non-use regions have been reported, suggesting its potential for long-range transport. Scientists found traces of trifluralin in the Canadian Arctic, which were believed to be from from Asia, probably China, in 1991. Trifluralin pollutes the atmosphere and is carried long distances in dust and air. ... trifluralin is highly toxic to aquatic animals (fish and invertebrates) and it poses high risks to endangered species. Sediment-feeding organisms are particularly at risk because of the tendency of trifluralin to bioaccumulate. Studies also suggest exposure-related abnormalities in the vertebral development of aquatic animals, at low concentration.

https://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/Triflura.htm

Trifluralin is the same active ingredient in Preen.

All this stuff is not necessary. You have a couple of easy choices. Till the ground. Let it wait a couple weeks for all the weed seeds to sprout and then till again. Or water well, lay down a thick layer of newspaper/cardboard, water well again. Then put down several inches of compost and topsoil on top of the newspaper water well and plant in to it.

I used the newspaper method to turn a couple areas of my front lawn into flower beds, without removing the grass first. Worked like a charm. The newspaper smothers the grass and then breaks down, leaving you a nice deep bed.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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hendi_alex
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I don't use herbicides or pesticides in the vegetable gardening areas. A friend used to use Treflan, but if treating the soil, would do it in the late fall, so that most of the residue would have a chance to leach from the soil prior to planting.

As posted above, I mulch over either weed guard or newspaper, for borders and for between planting areas. If an area is heavily overgrown with weeds and grass, I often solarize the spot for a couple of months before planting. Other times I'll till the area, wait a couple of weeks and then till the area a second time before planting. Once planted, weeds are mechanically removed with various hoes, rakes, and pulling. Also, I have a pretty high tolerance for 'weeds' and only attack the largest and most aggressive ones.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

AnimalBabe
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Thanks for your comments. That is scary about the ill effects of Treflan,etc. I really don't want to use that kind of stuff in my yard. I would like to try either tilling or using the newspaper..would both be overkill? This is a fairly large section of backyard with little grass growing--except in some spots--mainly weeds. I can rent a tiller I presume from home depot (hopefully they are easy to figure out having never used one!) and then rent it again in a few weeks. I would like to plant the seeds soon..could I wait just two weeks in between tilling? If I only go the route of using newspaper, would you put compost or just mulch over that? I'm assuming compost if I'm going to be putting down seeds that don't need to be buried too deeply? On that note, the compost doesn't have to be tilled/mixed into the existing soil?? Thanks again, I really appreciate your help.

AnimalBabe
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rainbowgardener: Meant to ask about the newspaper--just re-read your post..how long do you wait to plant into the area you just covered with newspaper and soil? Can you put down seeds right away or wait a per of time for the newspaper to get broken down?

AnimalBabe
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Ok, so for my third set of questions for the day. :wink: I just read more on planting wildflowers, so please forgive me. This is what they suggested for preparing the bed:

"Rototill the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Allow the tilled soil to settle before planting. Waiting for one or two rainfalls will help with this. If nature does not cooperate, you can use a lawn sprinkler to apply approximately three-quarter to one inch of water over the entire plot. Just soak the soil until you see that it has settled a bit. then rake, apply the seed, rake again to ensure seed to soil contact. Do not mulch"

Would you agree with these suggestions? Is it ok to wait that long to plant after the first pass thru with a tiller or will more weeds sprout? And couldn't I mulch with cut grass at least? Finally, if I rototilled, then waited a few days and applied wet newspaper covered with soil, would that be good too to plant the seeds into? thanks!!!

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