Pre-emergent herbicides are a God send.
Believe me when I say that I truly stand behind organic practices as often as possible. But there are times when chemicals can be our friends and the group of herbicides call pre-emergent herbicides is a good friend and weapon in the arsenal it takes to win the war on weeds!
Here is how it helped and keeps on helping me.
Three and a half years ago we began the slow process of converting the back yard of our home into a landscaped retreat.
Creating a destination instead of living with an eyesore.
Previously it had been a playground for our boys and their dogs. Long after they were grown up all that was left of the forts, tunnels, tree houses, zip lines and dog trails were holes in the ground and weeds, the occasional piece of scrap lumber and various other debris. Many hours of play had taken place in that space. I wouldn’t of had it any other way! But time has a way of marching forward and it was time to enter the next phase of our lives.
In this new stage of life the circle of our family includes three daughter-in-laws, eight grandchildren and my mother in law, who came to live with us nearly three years ago. The yard has evolved into a multi- use space. We have hosted wedding rehearsal dinners and a wedding, many barbecues, Holidays and family gatherings.
We have places for quiet contemplation, a fire pit area, a swing hanging from a pergola, a big deck, and connecting them all are pathways edged with rocks and plants that dissects the yard into manageable parts.
As I have said before, the best spaces usually evolve with time, and this one is no exception. This refuge is still not 100% complete but I cant think of anywhere I would rather come home to at the end of a long day.
What does all this have to do with pre-emergent herbicide? Everything!
To take a sloping yard that is roughly sixty feet wide (wider in some areas) by about one hundred and seventy five feet long and convert it from a foxtail haven to a slice of heaven is no small task!
It started one summer with a mix of Roundup and the pre-emergent herbicide Weed Impede. Carefully following the directions on each label I mixed them together in a sprayer. It took me over two hours to spray the whole back yard.
After a few hours went by and the mixture was completely dried onto those weeds, I set up a sprinkler (the weeds were about 18 inches tall, so I had to set the sprinkler on a plastic chair so that it was taller than the weeds) and wet it all down. Round up has to dry for at least 4 hours. The Weed Impede needs to dry as well, but then it has to be activated by water within 21 days. Rainfall is the perfect wetting agent, but that is hard to come by in Tehachapi in June. Hence the sprinkler.
After waiting for about two weeks for all the weeds to die (from the Round up) it was time to tackle the task of removing them. This was a long project that we broke up into two hour chunks of time. Gardening is good exercise, but It was too hot and exhausting to do more than that in a day. After several more weeks had gone by the cleanup was complete.
Then one day I came home and my hubby had carved out the beginnings of the pathways. He is very artistically talented and has a good eye. I loved the placement of the pathways as he laid it out and he reveled in the fact that he got to be the creator of something in the yard.
Another Saturday he surprised me by starting a terraced area that is perfect for setting up the fire pit, or in the case of the wedding of our son, it was the perfect stage for the musicians. It is about twelve feet long by seven feet wide. We ended up laying flagstones directly on the earth with one inch spaces between them. This way we didn’t have to further disturb the roots of the nearby Oak tree.
As the years have gone by I have planted the beds of the slopes with lots of daffodil bulbs, native plants and a some understory trees beneath the many tall Oaks.
A few roses have created a “rose walk”, okay, I confess it is really fifteen roses in all that comprise this oasis around the deck. I rationalize this extravagance because I have no lawn in the backyard and they are much more protected by the deer there, inside the fence.
If you are still wondering what all this has to do with pre emergence herbicide, let me explain.
Years and years of foxtails have left millions of seeds in the back yard. So, after they are gone their progeny remains. For every drop of water that hits the ground it seems a foxtail will sprout. They come up everywhere! Unless, of course, you have used pre-emergent herbicide. These herbicides are an excellent preventative method for controlling weeds. Weed Impede is especially effective on grassy weeds, and many broad leaf weeds as well. It establishes a chemical barrier that will not harm established plants, but will prevent weed seeds from successfully growing. It brings fresh meaning to the term “nipped in the bud”. It saves the gardener untold hours of work.
Round-Up has been used for years as a post-emergent herbicide, meaning it is used to kill weeds that have already sprouted (or emerged). Most people know about Round up, and understand its uses. Its easy- it kills whatever it touches the leaves of.
If you can grasp the concept of stopping new weeds before they start, then the war on weeds begins to feel like it can be won. The average homeowner will never get a handle on the weed problem by themselves unless they have a weapon like this. Most people don’t want to or are not physically able to spend the amount of time that a big lot requires to maintain. About four hours of spraying my 3/4 of an acre lot is all it takes to contain and maintain the weed free landscape. The cost of the chemical is far less than the cost of someone to weed whack the weeds.
While it is true that the pre-emergent herbicide does not control 100% of all weeds it does seem to control about 95% of the weeds in my landscape. The other 5% are easily taken care of with the old fashioned method of pulling them out by hand.
Yesterday was the Super Bowl. I usually advise my clients to have their pre-emergent herbicide sprayed by then, if there is no snow on the ground. That way when there is snow or rain, it is not germinating the next batch of weeds. Although that date has passed it is not too late, get out there and spray as soon as you can. Call the nurseries in town and see if they have any Weed Impede in stock. If not, you can purchase it online at domyownpestcontrol.com
When applying a pre-emergent herbicide always follow the directions carefully. I use Weed Impede because it can be mixed to a dilution that will last 6-8 months. I like that idea. I don’t want to spend any more time spraying than I have to.
One last benefit to using the pre- emergent is that my yard has many more wild flowers than it ever did before.
It seems that the native wild flower seeds are able to germinate when not shaded or choked out by the foxtails. Since Weed Impede targets mostly grassy weeds it does not inhibit the germination of all the wildflower seeds (although the manufacturer told me it may cut down wildflower germination by 30%). I now have patches of California Poppies, Owls Clover, Native Yarrow, Goldfields, Wild Hyacinth, and Lupine. My Tehachapi garden is starting to reflect more of what was originally here.
I love that it is easier to keep up now and has more of the spirit of this beautiful place we call home. Thanks to Weed Impede the time it takes to maintain is much more manageable. After all, no matter how much we love to be in our gardens we want to spend time enjoying the beauty, not being a slave to the maintenance.
What has your experience been with garden maintenance? Do you have any time or labor saving tips that the rest of us can benefit from? I would love to hear about it in the comments!