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  #1  
Old 05-10-2008, 10:56 AM
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Pesticide free weed options?

We moved into our house about 4 years ago with one young son, then had another who was born premature, which took a large amount of our time. All is good now a few years later, but our backyard is just a mess. We have a large suburban backyard, maybe 150x150, and it is filled with dandelions. I call it the "Dandylawn". I am looking for ideas for chemical free weed control. I bought a stand-up weed puller from HDepot. It works well, but the task is enormous. I mean thousands of weeds.

How about mowing the flowers off the dandelions before they go to seed? Will this at least slow them down?

We are starting around our vegetable garden and just working back with the weed puller.

Any suggestions?

Thanks

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  #2  
Old 05-10-2008, 11:34 AM
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Apply Urea to broadleaf plants - you should be able to get this at natural/organic type of stores.
Corn gluten, applied to your lawn, will keep new dandelions to come up in the future - sort of like birth control for your lawn.
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  #3  
Old 05-10-2008, 11:36 AM
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You've cut danelions before, haven't you? Where does the next flower top end up?

Just below the blade-cutting height...right?

Question: You've got two boys?

Answer: One BIG sandbox.

Forget dandelion control w/o chemicals...I've tried...you just have to keep everyone off the lawn for two/three days (what the bag/bottle says to do), then TA! DA! - No yellow dots in the back yard...

Otherwise, live with the yellow dots or the backyard becomes a rock garden/sandbox...

With little boys, I'd stay away from the rocks for a couple of years yet!
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:42 AM
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First and foremost: A weed is any plant growing out of place.

Having said that, know that you're fighting the seed bank.

Seeds drop and go into the soil. Some seeds barely last a year in the ground -- like most row crop seeds. Others can last decades, even centuries. There's a project at one of the Ivy Leagues that has been ongoing since the early 20th century in which a botanist back then excavated a huge heap of soil and stored it in a cool basement. Every year or so since then students have been taking a bit of that stored soil and put it in ideal growing conditions. Every time they do it a few plants germinate.

There is no way to defeat the seed bank. The best you can hope for is to suppress it.

Mowing is absolutely the best and first line of defense against the clandestine forces arrayed against you.

The second defense is to make the turf so dense and luxurious that unwanted plants cannot effectively compete.

The third line is to dig or kill every unwanted plant as soon as it rears it's ugly head.

Repeat for the rest of your life.

Or you can do something like what I'm doing -- a strategic withdrawal and a reformation of my expectations. I have planted a number of trees with which I am increasingly shading my yard, rendering it an inhospitable place for grasses and other light-dependent plants. Along with the trees & shrubs I planted light-loving wildflowers that butterflies, hummingbirds, moths and birds like for various reasons. Because I mulch heavily (mulch is free in my town as part of the recycling effort) these plants choke-out weeds & grass. The mulch is great hunting grounds for many bird species, too. Gradually the shade has been deepening and spreading, killing-off my flowers except on the periphery of the shade. This increases habitat and plant species diversity, gaining a further increase in zoological diversity. It also dramatically decreases mowing frequency & intensity, saving a bit of gas and lessening noxious fumes and noise.

For subversive and detailed information on this kind of gardening, do a search on a horticulturist named "Felder Rushing".

B
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:47 AM
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Yes, mowing will keep them at bay but not kill them. Pulling is a good way to go but will not kill them either. For paths and walkways use cheap white vinegar in a sprayer on a hot day. Vinegar will kill grass as well so do not use in yard.

I too am against chemicals but I do use spot weed killer on my lawn. The gallon sprayer has lasted me over 2 years.

Getting them under control and then staying on top of them is the best plan.

It sounds as if your lawn is in need of some serious work and sorry to say that is what it will take.

I am still mulling over the idea of turning my entire back yard into a veggy garden.

Good luck.

j
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  #6  
Old 05-10-2008, 11:50 AM
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I suppose you could also just pee on each dandelion - might wanna wait until night-time with that one though. In addition, when you go to pull it out, you might want to wear gloves. (pull out the dandelion, that is)
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2008, 12:31 PM
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Pee-pee is high in nitrogen, potassium, and other minerals that make plants happy. It may burn their leaves but they usually come back more lush than ever.
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  #8  
Old 05-10-2008, 10:38 PM
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Just an update.

I have small piles of dandelions that I have pulled all over the backyard. They were yellow when I pulled them. Even after being pulled, the little buggers will still change to seed and blow all over the lawn! So you have to collect them and burn them or bag them
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Old 05-11-2008, 01:39 AM
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i belive the spray type that mounts to your garden hose is safe once it drys
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Old 05-11-2008, 05:41 AM
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Goats can be very effective weed controllers.
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  #11  
Old 05-11-2008, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmaysob View Post
i belive the spray type that mounts to your garden hose is safe once it drys
It depends on the chemical. Some react to sunlight and quickly degrade, like atrazine. It is one that is safe to use frequently (following label directions, of course).

Others can be quite persistent and will go back into solution in a heavy dew. Rain will carry it into streams. Every major river in the USA has herbicides in it, mostly from forestry and agricultural application. By draining backwater swamps and oxbows, we have decreased the ability of rivers to self-clean. The result is that the farther downstream we go, the more varied the chemical soup we produce.

Any household that receives water from a major river is receiving chlorinated or fluoridated agricultural chemicals. The concentrations of these chemicals is so low that nobody has ever been able to scientifically detect a causal link between the water and health effects.

Something like 75% of the population of the USA lives within 100 miles of the coast. For the most part, major coastal cities are situated on major rivers and draw their potable water from those rivers.

B
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Old 05-12-2008, 08:40 AM
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Corn gluten is effective as a pre-emergent weed control but won't do anything to the weeds that are actively growing. It will help you fractionally decrease the decades of seed built up in the soil, maybe just enough to give your grass a better chance, but certainly won't get rid of all of them. It is effective if applied heavily enough. With the price almost doubling last year a lot of people may be inclined to skimp and as a result won't be happy with their results. Label rates can vary from 20-40 lbs./1000 sq.ft. but I've got a customer who's been an organic lawn care applicator for 10+ years now who says 50 lbs./1000 sq.ft. is needed. Thick turf is quite effective at staving off weed and crabgrass infestation. Don't give the weeds sunlight (thin grass or open soil) and they'll be held at bay.

If you really want to stick with that green lawn but want to stay organic, bagging will help keep from spreading the seeds. Bag while there are weeds in seed stage and switch back to mulching after they pass it (which puts nutrients and moisture back into the soil). Organic fertilizer can help thicken up your turf to help crowd them out. At one time we sold both the sludge based and protein (meal) based ones but we've narrowed it down to just the protein based because it stinks a lot less, doesn't have nearly the same unpleasantness due to the source and is free off heavy metals. I'm not sure where you are but here in the Northeast overseeding in the fall to thicken up the turf can really help. Just remember that any weed killer, corn gluten, crabgrass control will keep you from seeding which is why spring seeding is usually precluded.

It'll depend on your patience. I have some customers that are willing to go IPM and make one chemical application to get rid of a large amount of broadleaf weeds and go organic from there on.
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  #13  
Old 05-12-2008, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmaysob View Post
i belive the spray type that mounts to your garden hose is safe once it drys
Most herbicides used within label rates are relatively safe. The problem with hose-end applications, as well as broadcast granular, is that you're applying chemicals to areas that may not even need them. It is more labor intensive, but spot spray applications are more effective and keeps that chemical output to the minimum.

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