He’s Got an Unusual Plan to Fight Unwanted Plants. But Will it Work

By Joe Darby

My problem: weeds, briars and brambles and even rogue trees.

My possible solution: Well, I better give you the background story first.

When Mary and I moved into our house in the nice quiet residential area south of the hospital, almost exactly 14 years ago, the area behind us was still undeveloped. It took little imagination to see cows grazing in the grass in those fields to the rear of our new home.

Our back yard was of a pretty good size and we had dogs so we needed to fence in most of the rear property. Which we did, putting up a wire, or hurricane fence. Things were going along fine and the dogs were having fun in their large play area inside the fence. Then developers built new streets and new homes in the once open field area behind us.

That was fine. Our own home was a relatively new development, and we were the first occupants of it. So, some nice neighbors moved into the new house directly behind us and after a while they built a six-foot-high wooden fence at the back of their property.

The only thing was, it was placed about one foot from our own wire fence. And that left enough room for all sorts of plants to spring up but no room to easily get at those plants to uproot them. The growths enjoyed a little no man’s land all their own. And boy, did they take advantage of it. They’d sprout up thickly in the growing season then take a rest in the winter, before resuming their propagation the next spring.

I’ll admit, I let the mess of greenery get somewhat out of hand before I vigorously attacked it. This was because it was very hard to get to, in order to properly trim, plus I have a bad back and, being in my 70s, my energy level was far from what it used to be.

So, weed killers would be the answer, right? Well, much to my surprise weed killers, even the very potent types, had little lasting effect on these aggressive plants. They’d die back for a while but the next spring they’d come back just as hardy and thick as ever.

So by this time I had a very unwanted one-foot strip of weeds, brambles and thorn bushes and even several of those ugly little trees that seem to sprout up wherever they get a chance. I’d trim them back best I could but they always won the battle.

I have paid for help to clear out the plants, but that is an expensive proposition and even a combination of trimming and weed killers doesn’t stop these persistent little rogues There’s just no working area to properly get at them.

So, here’s my idea. Plants need sun to grow, right? So I figure if I can cover them with something like a tarp, while they’re dormant for winter, I can stymie their vital need for sunlight. That’s not going to be inexpensive, either. I measured the length of my back fence, adjacent to the unwanted growth, and it came to 166 feet. That’s a lot of tarp to buy. A friend suggested construction bags, those heavy trash bags that builders use to get rid of their debris, which would be a little cheaper. But would it work?.

I talked to Randall at the Ag Extension Center downtown and he said he thought my idea just might do the trick. I will have to make a move soon, before the little green monsters start sprouting for spring. I’m open to suggestions and thoughts, but I’ve gotta move quickly. I’ll let you know what happens.

3 thoughts on “He’s Got an Unusual Plan to Fight Unwanted Plants. But Will it Work

  1. Since it’s only a foot, I would consider removing that part of the the wire fence for easy access to the weeds. It would be easy to extend the side fence one foot

  2. I do hope you do a follow-up, those of us who battle weeds in the great outdoors are interested.
    I think your plan could work, but if you have nut grass/ Nut sledge, my experience is it will go right
    through almost any barrier except for concrete.

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