Specifically, I've declared war on the plants that think they should inhabit my lawn.
As I've mentioned before, I bought my home in foreclosure. It was not well cared for, and that extended to the lawn. You know when you look at a neighbourhood of nicely manicured lawns, and then you come across one that no one is caring for and let go? I bought "that house". Yay. Didn't really think about that at the time, because it was October/November and I looked at it in the evening.
Last spring I was welcomed by a sea of yellow dandelions and prickly thistle. I attacked them with fervour, digging them out, using chemical weed killers, and going so far as pulling the sod right up and reseeding the ground.
This spring their numbers have been greatly reduced, and the plants are much smaller/younger. The grass I put in last year is struggling, and is mostly brown. As much as its an eye sore, it's made it surprisingly simple to locate the weeds as they're coming up. This year I actually have fewer weeds than my neighbours :)
I wasn't a huge fan of using the chemicals last year. Its expensive, and it goes against a lot of my green beliefs, so I looked up a bunch of frugal green to do with weeds.
- Pull Them Out! - The frustrating thing about dandelions and thistle is that they have tap roots. Basically, they're carrot shaped roots that dig deep into your lawn. Even if you run a lawn mower over them and cut off the flowers, they'll come back year after year because you haven't killed the plant itself. If you can get yourself a weed puller and pull that sucker right out of the ground, you'll be much better off. Bag it and chuck it in the garbage so the seeds don't spill out on the ground as the plant dies.
- Boiling Water - This does for weeds what it does for vegetables, it cooks them. This would work quite well along sidewalks and under patios, where you don't want anything growing. Be careful in other areas, because it doesn't cook selectively. It cooks the animal life as well, which is why people use it on ant hills.
- Vinegar - It's an acid, and plants don't like acid. Some like acidic soil, sure, but they don't like acid on them. Think acid rain. Again, this isn't selective, so be careful with it. I read somewhere that if you mix a little dish soap in it the vinegar will stick to the plant better. Spray it on the leaves of the plant. Most plants are shaped in such a way that moisture will funnel its way from the leaves to the base of the plant, which helps nicely in the weed killing department.
- Salt - There is a reason soldiers used to salt the earth of their enemies. If you salt the earth, nothing will grow there for quite some time. As with the boiling water, this will work well for areas you don't want any plant life, such as sidewalks. Mix it in the boiling water and you've hit the weeds with a one two punch.
- Alcohol - It dehydrates you, and it will dehydrate plants. Spray it on the surface and let it shrivel. Note that you'll need to use rubbing alcohol for this, not beer.
- Corn Gluten - This doesn't actually kill weeds, this just prevents weed seeds from sprouting and taking over. While you're doing your thing taking care of the weeds in your lawn, sprinkle some of this on the ground to prevent other people's weed seeds from taking root. Note that you should make sure you don't intend on over seeding afterwards, as it will prevent grass seed from taking root as well.
- Eat Them - You read that right. Dandelions were originally brought over from Europe by the Spaniards to plant in their gardens. Being a non-local species, they kind of took off... and you know the rest. The plant is edible. I've seen deep fried flowers, dandelion greens in salads (get them young or they turn bitter), or greens steamed like spinach or swiss chard. I've actually seen it for sale at my local organic grocer. Sadly, I am severely allergic to them. If I get their milky white liquid on me, I start reacting. If you're not, and you haven't put anything on them, try eating them. You might lower your grocery bill.
How do you deal with your weeds?