Weeds: Pulling vs. Spraying. Opinions please

Northwestern, NJ

So, here it is, not even May, and I already have weeds coming up next to my tulips and daffodils. I decided this evening to spray the few early weeds rather than pull them because I already put mulch down and thought that exposing the earth by pulling would encourage more weeds.

Am I naive and/or ignorant or am I thinking semi-clearly (for a change)?

What do you do with early weeds?

Thomaston, CT

I pull all of my weeds....I have a well on my property, so chemicals are out.....I don't get all of the weeds....really, just a fraction.....but I mulch, & ignore a lot of the weeds that do pop up......

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

i pull all of mine - weeding does not do much to mulch coverage.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

ditto. I dig or pull every weed. The land was contaminated years ago, but some day I hope to launch some raised beds, so there's no benefit to adding to the trouble if I don't have to.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

We're dealing with Porcelainberry Vine, which really got entrenched while we were in TX. Last fall we tried to get it with Roundup, and I imagine we'll do it again this spring, and this fall, and next spring, and next fall....etc.

I don't trust our dirt, and even if we don't use toxic stuff, the runoff from all of our uphill neighbors contaminates anything we try to grow. I'm on the side of pull and dig except it's really an emergency. I feel that organic chemicals just don't break down harmlessly.

Northwestern, NJ

Well, you all were right. I sprayed my early weeds with organic weed killer and they laughed in my face! Going out now to pull them. We'll see who's laughing then! :-)

Thomaston, CT

Spent much of yesterday trying to rid a garden of vetch & Virginia creeper.......I know they will just grow right back....cannot ever be rid of those pests!

Riverhead, NY

I'm definitely a puller. In the woods on the fringe of the lawn I've sprayed the poison ivy. I've also mixed Preen into the mulch, but pulling low and deep works best.
As for the Virginia creeper, at this newer location for me (2 years), I'm not as vexed by it, but Robindog, I feel your pain. My last home had a planted island in the backyard, and I was always untwining, clipping, and digging the darn things out.

Thomaston, CT

Not only that.....poison ivy vines were mixed in with the Virginia Creeper, so now one arm is covered in a lovely rash....Technu helps! I've been scrubbing & spraying with Technu, & the rash is drying up......

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Ugh, Robin. I've never had poison ivy, but I've witnessed many bad cases, and so I say "UGH!'

Riverhead, NY

Good healing to you Robin. I'm guessing long sleeves and a good pair of garden gloves are on the list.

Thomaston, CT

I do wear gloves, but it was too hot for long sleeves....I just have to remember to scrub every day when I come in from the gardens....I know I'm very sensitive to poison ivy, I get it every year......Carrie, count yourself lucky to have never had it!

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I do, I do, and I never dare say "I am not allergic to poison ivy," only that I have never had it.

Riverhead, NY

I'm with you on that Carrie, and count myself fortunate. I also still take precautions. Robin, happy going, safe going, and good planting and scrubbing to you.

Thomaston, CT

Thank you.....it's just about gone.....

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I pull and pull, and try to keep up with mulching. will only spray the poison ivy which has pretty much stayed on neighbors side of the fence

Thomaston, CT

I pulled quite a few clumps of grass yesterday.....there is poison ivy along the fence I'm painting today.....must remember to scrub when finished!

Putnam Valley, NY(Zone 5b)

I pull. I'm afraid of using chemicals due to all the wells in our area. The exception is poison ivy. I used to put on long sleeves and gloves and pull it, but now I'm too sensitive to it. I get a bad case no matter what barrier I put on. So this is one weed that I make an exception for.
I actually enjoy weeding, especially after a rain when the roots come out easily.

Thomaston, CT

My son does spray once in awhile for poison ivy...I can see it needs to be done again......

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

YES! love weeding after it rains

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

there are a couple of beds way in back I have finally decided to use round-up - i just do not get back there often enough and with hand weeding the rest of the yard just do not have the time.

Hobart, IN

We live on a wooded lot with a wetlands directly behind us. I pull all weeds or flame them. I have been trying an organic weed killer called Avenger on some really tough weeds (but it will damage/kill anything it touches). Beyond our fence line is a poison ivy forest and we do get PI seedlings in garden beds and the lawn.After a severe case of PI my first gardening year, I can now recognize the plants from a distance but PI seedlings can surprise me. I've learned to always wear gloves (heavy leather), long pants, socks and shoes (no sandals) when gardening. I pull small PI plants with plastic newspaper sleeves over my gloves. Luckily no uncomfortable cases of PI.

Thomaston, CT

PI is in every garden of mine......my son insists Roundup is not that bad an herbicide, because it breaks down quickly, & I may have to have him come in & spray.....just is taking over!

Hobart, IN

Hmmm - have been reading that when Roundup comes in contact with water, it doesn't break down so quickly. Here's some more info -
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/

Thomaston, CT

Scary stuff.......I don't like to spray because I have a well in the front yard, but I have no idea how to get rid of the PI.....

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

brush-be-gone works well - i use it every other year to keep under control - it will kill all it touches though

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

The words "organic weed-killer called Avenger" caught my eye! Does it work? In my (limited) experience, Roundup is not all that effective. At least, we couldn't SEE it working so weren't convinced it was working as well as just digging stuff up.

Thomaston, CT

The PI is too prevalent to pull......think jungle....I really need to spray it...... I get the rash if I look at it the vines, no way am I touching it with plastic bags.....and some vines are so thick, no way will they come out of the soil easily.......

Hobart, IN

Here's some info on Avenger -
http://avengerorganics.com/Products/AvengerWeedKiller/tabid/66/Default.aspx
I heard about it a couple of years ago on a Howard Garrett podcast. He did say that some really tough stuff might need a second spray. I have used it a couple of times on some rampant Campanula rapunculoides - a very aggressive spreader that defies everything I've thrown at it - Avenger halted it for the season but did not kill it (which would have been a miracle).
Robin - maybe once the majority of the PI dies (be careful about pulling up dead plants and roots) you could go the pulling route. DH (who isn't allergic) had to cut an old vine growing up an old oak with a saw and then douse the cut ends with Ortho PI killer. PI "forests" make me shiver.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

My PI keeps growing back even though I pull the vines from my trees and try to cut into the roots. It's worth considering a better way

Hobart, IN

You have to get all of the PI root out because it will grow back. If you're going to use a spray, use Ortho PI killer. Roundup won't kill it off - just sets it back. Never tried Avenger on it so don't know if it's any better. PI is very tough to kill.

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

Wash with Fels Naptha soap. It breaks down the urushiol and you can even shave it off the bar into a cup of water and when it melts into the water, use it in the laundry to wash your garden clothes, or your dog or cat.
Martha

Thomaston, CT

Thanks.....I have a campanula I cannot kill also.....I think it's glomerata....deep purple cluster on top of plant....looks pretty, but it strangles all the other plants with its underground runners.....I keep pulling it out, but I never get it all.....

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Yeah, Fels Naptha is what we used for PI when I was a kid.

Hobart, IN

I'm usually pretty cognizant of where I step and where I put my gloved hands. If I'm going to be working in taller, weedier areas where PI might be lurking, I wear my Bogs boots. I do wear my leather gloves almost always when working outdoors and I will wash them from time to time to reduce the possibility of the oil transferring to my skin. I had heard that if skin contact is suspected, rinse the area in cold water first for about 20 seconds before adding any soap.Do this within one hour of possible contact.

Hobart, IN

Thought you might like some additional info on the PI -
http://www.idontwantpoisonivy.com/

Do remember that if you spray, you'll still have dead plants/roots which can still give you PI. And don't burn the stuff. Once inhaled, the PI oil can really mess up your lungs and can be fatal.

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

be careful to clean your cutting tools as well. Don't burn logs that have had PI climbing on them. and be careful about the surface of your pond or water feature. Urushiol is an oil and floats on water. I got it on my ankles once as a kid by wading barefoot in a little creek behind our house.
Martha

Thomaston, CT

My Dad burned wood that had PI on it many years ago when outside burning was still permitted......he had PI in his throat.....very sick.....

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I get shivers from thinking about that.

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