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Mr. Smarty Plants - Solarization and hand-pulling to remove invasive weeds

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Sunday - June 20, 2004

From: Elberon, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Solarization and hand-pulling to remove invasive weeds
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

We are planting a field of native grasses, and prepared the landscape by solarization last July. However it now seems that the weeds returned with great vigor. Is there any other method to get rid of the weeds without using chemicals?

ANSWER:

The answer to your inquiry lies in patience. You have practiced responsible preventative maintenance by providing solarization. Some 'weed' species may persist the first or second year of site preparation, and you may have to rely on herbicidal 'spot treatment' to exclude these aggresive species. Mowing at appropriate heights is one method of mechanical maintenance. Mowing before the weeds set flower or seed reduces the chances for seed dispersal. Vigilance with hand pulling unwanted species is also key, as well as continuing to increase ecologically appropriate species populations. With steady work, you should be able to see more positive results by the third or fourth year post-installation. Click here to review an article on Wildflower Meadow Gardening, which provides detailed information reviewing methods for developing a healthy native plant landscape.
 

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