Category Archives: weeds

IS IT POSSIBLE TO KEEP YOUR GARDEN FREE FROM WEEDS?

Hmm. That’s a tall order. Weeds common to your garden are naturally suited to the sun, soil, and water conditions of this area. That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of weeds after they’ve taken root.

But if you prevent weed seeds from germinating, your garden can be weed-free. Here are some tips to keep weeds from growing in the first place.

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English Ivy – a Blessing or a Curse?


Last winter you may have been surprised to see a lot of local trees covered with green leaves. Except they weren’t on the branches, they were all along the trunk of the tree and headed for the sky. While the sight of green might cheer you in the winter time, what you are seeing is English Ivy, which is an invasive menace. It was introduced during colonial times, and is now seen throughout North America.

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion gardening is the planting together of plants that have similar growing needs,  to maximize the production of both plants. It is still an experimental field with more research needed, but there are some things we do know and can pass along.

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The Challenge of Controlling Weeds in April

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Dandelion, clover, plantain and other broadleaf weeds are among the most common and troublesome pest problems in lawns.

Even though most broadleaf weeds can be easily controlled with herbicides, a completely weed-free lawn is neither practical nor environmentally sensible. A safe and sound approach to lawn weed control is to grow healthy turf, spot-treat weeds with the correct weed control product as they appear, and avoid the temptation to guarantee (or attempt to achieve) 100% weed-free turf.

Controlling weeds in April is often more challenging than other times of the year due to the fact that most weed killers do not work in colder weather. But in fact, controlling them early is the best way to keep them from getting out of control later on in the year when sunlight is more abundant and temperatures are warmer.

An organic and natural product is Bonide’s Maize Weed Preventer. This can be used in and around flower and vegetable gardens, lawns, trees and ornamentals, and won’t harm desirable plants. A liquid form of corn gluten meal, it can be easily applied with a hose-end sprayer. Another product that controls weed growth for up to 4 months can be spread by shaking on the lawn or around ornamentals. This is Bonide’s Crabgrass and Weed Preventer.

If weeds insist on appearing despite your efforts at prevention, we recommend other Bonide products such as Weed Beater Ultra: Check out this great videoWeed beater Ultra is the ultimate systemic broadleaf weed killer for lawn and turf. It uses new chemistry that’s especially effective on over 200 hard-to-kill weeds, right to the roots. You will have visible results in just 24 hours, and once it dries, it is rain-proof, and you can reseed in just 2 weeks! Weeds are most susceptible in early spring and late fall, so this is the ideal product for cool weather down to 45°F.

The number of turfgrass herbicides is too numerous to mention here. It should be noted that combination (2 to 4 herbicides) products provide broader spectrum control of weeds than single herbicides.

Additionally, you can help discourage weed growth by not mowing the lawn too short or too often; not fertilizing too much, or at the wrong time of the year; and not over- or under-watering.

To Mulch or Not to Mulch? And When?

What is Mulch and Why is it Important?

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Mulch can be anything that covers the soil. It ‘s purpose is to retain moisture and prevent weeds, and help maintain soil temperature. It can be applied at different times of the year depending on the purpose. Towards the beginning of the growing season mulches serve initially to warm the soil by helping it retain heat which is lost during the night. This allows early seeding and transplanting of certain crops, and encourages faster growth. As the season progresses, mulch stabilizes the soil temperature and moisture,  and prevents the growing of weeds .

While mulch forms a layer between the soil and the atmosphere which prevents sunlight from reaching the soil surface, it can also prevent water from reaching the soil by absorbing or blocking water from light rains. This is why it is often applied in late spring/early summer when soil temperatures have risen sufficiently, but soil moisture content is still relatively high.

Best Type of Mulch is Organic

In addition to being inexpensive, organic mulches decay over time and do wonders for your garden, since they return useful nutrients to the soil and can increase your yield of crops in addition to the other benefits mentioned above.

Commonly available organic mulches include:

Leaves

  • Leaves from deciduous trees, which drop their foliage in the autumn/fall. They tend to be dry and blow around in the wind, so are best chopped or shredded before application. As they decompose they adhere to each other but also allow water and moisture to seep down to the soil surface.

Grass clippings

  • Grass clippings, from mowed lawns are sometimes collected and used elsewhere as mulch. Grass clippings are dense and tend to mat down, so are best mixed with tree leaves or rough compost to provide aeration and to facilitate their decomposition without smelly putrefaction. Rotting fresh grass clippings can damage plants; Fresh green grass clippings are relatively high in nitrate content, and when used as a mulch, much of the nitrate is returned to the soil.

Peat moss

  • Peat moss, or sphagnum peat, is long lasting and packaged, making it convenient and popular.  It can also lower the pH of the soil surface, making it useful as a mulch under acid-loving plants.
 BG-Peat-Moss-3-8cu-bale-front

Wood chips

  • Wood chips are a byproduct of the pruning of trees by arborists, utilities and parks; they are used to dispose of bulky waste. Tree branches and large stems are rather coarse after chipping and tend to be used as a mulch at least three inches thick. The chips are used to conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperature and suppress weed growth.

Other Facts About Mulch:

  • There is no better mulch than compost . Compost is not acidic and it doesn’t harm plants (it’s plant FOOD!).  Compost is also pretty.
  • You should not run ANY material right up to your home. Everyone in America has subterranean termites in their landscape. Subterraneans prefer to travel under cover. Mulching right up to the side of your home with anything—even stone—provides the protection and moisture they require to find their way RIGHT to your framing. Always leave at least a six-inch area clear around your home.
  • Never touch a plant with any mulch. Mulches are for preventing weeds and retaining soil moisture—they are not blankies; they do not keep plants warm or comfort them. Just the opposite, in fact: ANY mulch that’s piled up against a plant stem or tree trunk provides cover and traps moisture, inviting pests, disease and rot to destroy that poor plant. Always leave a few inches wide open around the trunk or stem.

Giordano’s carries whatever your garden needs in terms of mulch and compost. Come in and ask our staff about which is best for your garden.

The Science and Happiness of Mulching

Choosing the right mulch is essential to giving your plants the best possible conditions. Mulch improves plant growth, conserves moisture, reduces weed growth and moderates fluctuating temperatures. The contribution of mulch undoubtedly assists in the generation and balancing of an ideal micro-ecosystem for your landscape.

Fork It On!

pitchfork with mulch


Mulching is a Science, it turns out…

Who thought that gardeners would be reading graphs and performing tests with beakers & litmus paper? We did! We also piggy-backed on some research done by Fine Gardening and also by the University of Washington; thanks goes to them for the test results!

First let’s take a look at the Growth Graph of 5 different shrubs when planted in mulched vs unmulched. The shrubs studied were Arborvitae, Yew, Cranberrybush Viburnum, Hydrangea and Arrowwood Viburnum. Every mulch that was tested yielded similar enough results that they fell under the expected variance (or in other words, yielded no significant difference); save one. Cyprus mulch did not affect growth in any substantial way, but did offer weed suppression much like the other varieties of mulch tested. Without further adieu, here is the first graph we’ll take a look at.

growth-graph

Notice the range of difference between the mulched vs unmulched plants. While it varies from about 10cm to nearly 100cm, every shrub tested experienced improved growth and overall health when properly mulched. This alone implies significant value in mulching your landscapes. But, there’s more!

Other Benefits of Mulch from the Same Study:

Test Completed
No Mulch
Mulch

Soil Moisture Retention @ 2″ depth, 2 hours after watering
13%
42%

Soil Nutrient Retention & Availability in Root Zone
61%
87%

Weed Control
Unmitigated
76% Reduction

Time Spent Weeding 25 Shrubs Over a 3mo Period
Approx 19hrs
Approx 4hrs 45mins

The Results are Clear!

Mulching has a positive effect on ever aspect of your landscape. Another study conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle goes on to show that Nutrient Retention in Soil directly contributes to overall health of your plants and “…the surrounding landscape”! This means that healthy, happy plants make other plants HEALTHIER! We find it fascinating that there are levels of communication going on all around us, communication we can’t see or hear. And, we love that when your plants are happy and healthy they contribute to the overall happiness and health of your entire landscape. Keep that in mind the next time you’re out in the garden, it just might put a huge grin on your face!


Our Recommendations For Mulch:

  • Pine
  • Recycled Pallet
  • Cyprus
  • Hardwoods

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Do you need to control weeds and reseed your lawn?

Crabgrass

August 20th is also usually a good time to apply crabgrass or weed control if necessary. Be sure daytime temperatures are no higher than the low 80s. 70s are more ideal. Look for a still day with no rain in the forecast for 24 hours. Wait 2 weeks to seed after applying weed or crabgrass control.

reseedinglawn

The time to reseed your lawn is fast approaching. The ideal time to seed your lawn is usually between August 20th and September 20th. Look for the nighttime temperatures to be in the low to mid 60s.