It doesn’t seem to matter how intensively we manage our gardens or landscapes, weeds still find a way to shoot up seemingly overnight. Often we simply pull the weed out of the ground and go on about our business. However, plant tissue left behind when the weed is pulled up is often capable of sprouting again. Today, I am going to explain two simple methods you can use to effectively kill weeds using non-selective herbicides (ex: Roundup) without risking your desirable garden or bedding plants.
The first method is as simple as physically blocking your desirable plants to keep herbicide spray from contacting them. Large sheets of cardboard are effective and fairly easy to come by. Large home appliance boxes work well, and in some cases can even sit down over the desirable plants. However, those can be cumbersome and may require an extra set of hands. I have found that tri-fold boards such as the ones often used in science fair projects are very effective, easy to handle, and cheap. They can be set up around the plant you are spraying to contain the chemical drift, or set up around the desirable plants to block incoming drift. While this method is simple, there can still be herbicide damage from unpredictable chemical splash, drift due to the breeze, or contact with a surface that has the chemical on it.
My preferred method is to simply wipe the herbicide onto the target plant. This method takes out the risk of drift because you are not spraying at all. All that you need to perform this is a nonporous rubber glove, a cotton glove, and the chemical that you are going to use. Put the cotton glove on over the rubber glove and dip it into the chemical. Without dripping chemical everywhere, simply wipe the target plant with the glove. You will find that this kills the plant without endangering surrounding plants.
Using a good thick mulch will drastically decrease the emergence of weeds, with the added benefit of retaining soil moisture which is very important during this time of year. For your vegetable garden, mulch between the rows with 2-4 inches of pine straw, and the same amount throughout your landscape beds.
For more information contact Randall Mallette, County Agent,at the local LSU AgCenter Extension Office 318-357-2224. You can also visit us on the web at http://www.lsuagcenter.com or at 624 Second St, Natchitoches.