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Sunday - May 29, 2011

From: Richland, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Pests, Seasonal Tasks, Shrubs
Title: Preventing weeds in kinnikinnick in Richland WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted our kinnickinick last Nov. and we live in Richland, WA, where it gets hot in the summer. We planted almost 500 of them on a hillside. Weeding is taking over our lives, to say the least. Do you recommend putting mulch down? We're afraid it will blow away. The product "Amaze" doesn't seem to be working very well. Also, how often should we be watering? This is the first summer they have been planted. Thanks so much

ANSWER:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is one of our favorite plants, if only for the name, because it really won't grow down here in Texas. We do have to say that, even on lawn grasses or other ground cover, the first year or so, at least, is going to be consumed in pulling weeds. We always warn people who have put down new lawns or ground covers that no matter if they are native there, or well-adapted, the weeds are going to come in and revel in that new ground, which has no doubt been disturbed seriously in preparing for that planting. Weeds loooove disturbed ground.

According to this USDA Plant Profile, this plant grows natively in the next county over from Benton County in the southeast portion of Washington on the border with Oregon. We don't feel that it is out of place or in the wrong soil or climate,

We are not very familiar with  Pre-emergent herbicides but we found this article explaining what they are and their uses. We thought this phrase was significant:

"Pre-emergent herbicides are generally used as a last resort, when more sensible means of controlling weeds have not been employed or have not worked well. Those of you with a weed-infested lot adjacent to your property might have no option but to use these products."

The same article discussed Amaze and referred to time of application as:

"Under most conditions, mid-February and mid-September."

The weeds you are struggling with are no doubt seeding out now, and may, indeed come up again before Fall. However, if you keep after them this year, then application of the pre-emergent herbicide in mid-September should be more beneficial.

In terms of using mulch, we always like mulch on bare ground. It will shade out the seedlings of the weeds that try to come up, and thus repress a lot of weeds. If you put down a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch, it will help cool the soil, and also protect the roots of your plants in the Winter. Furthermore, if it is not raining, you probably should be watering your Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick), and that water will also help hold the mulch in place, and the mulch will hold the moisture in the soil. Actually, kinnikinnick is low water user, and withstands drought very well, but any plant needs supplementary watering if the rains are inconsistent in the first year that plant is in the ground.

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