Jefferson Landscape and Design is a design and build landscape contractor in the Bay Area, and while we don’t get seasons the way much of the country does, we do get rain. If you live in California, then you know: ‘tis the season for weeds! Weed abatement can be a major issue for some homeowners. There are a few ways to go about ridding your yard of the bothersome weeds that pop up unwantedly throughout the year. The best way to deter these pesky visitors is to install Weed Block before they become a problem. When it comes to weeds there are no shortcuts.
It’s well worth noting that healthy soil and plant root systems will naturally reduce weeds in your lawn and garden. If you are someone who doesn’t want to use any weed control products, you’ve got your work cut out for you. If weeding is not your favorite task, try staying one step ahead of them by removing weeds before they flower and set seed. Fully removing them and their entire root system will also cut down on future weeds. It might take some time, but your weed population will decrease over time. If you lay bark over the bare soil, it will deter the weed growth for a few months. The Ph of bark dust is not conducive to weed growth.
Still, the more plants you put in the ground the better. The good roots will ultimately choke out the bad ones. This is especially true for a hearty, spreading groundcover. If you’ve got an area that’s been giving you trouble and you’re starting over, dig out the top 2 inches with a shovel and dispose of the weeded soil by taking it to your local dumps. Then bring in enough of a planter-mix soil amendment from your local landscape supplier to cover the area and rototill it in. When selecting your soil, buy the best you can find. Soil can be delivered and dumped in front of your home by the cubic yard.
A Cubic Yard covers 4” 80 Square Feet, 3” 120 Square Feet, 2” 160 Square Feet and so on.
Because we don’t use home remedies, we can’t endorse them or know whether they work. We recommend turning the soil over, amending it, and installing commercial grade polypropylene Weed Block. However, if you’re looking for alternatives here are organic methods for killing weeds. If you go the home remedy route, we recommend getting to know your weeds and why they are growing in your landscape first.
Don’t Use Roundup or Spray Poisons!
Spraying chemicals in the yard is a tempting shortcut for many a home gardener looking to protect a tasty crop or a bed of flowers. These type of weed killers usually include atrazine and aren’t necessary. Most of them have been linked to health risks and cause water pollution.
Weed Block is a great choice for your landscape (so long as the right Weed Block is used correctly). Weed Block is great for planter areas that surround your lawn and patio wear you grow things like flowering trees, Azaleas and Hibiscus. But be sure what you buy is actually Weed Block. You can find proper commercial grade, professional landscaper’s Weed Block made with polypropylene at Ewing Irrigation, which is open to the public and has many locations throughout the Bay Area. Most hardware stores sell a product they call Weed Block, but it’s more like drainage fabric and doesn’t work well. If you use it, add a second layer—don’t buy any rubber like “Weed Block” with holes in it. You’re better off getting the proper carpet-like material with long lasting, tear resistant polypropylene. It lets water and air through to help prevent soil compaction and conserves soil moisture. Not to mention it controls unsightly weeds. Be sure to anchor the Weed Block to the ground with landscape staples (we buy them at Ewing, but any irrigation supply store will have the Weed Block, staples and preemergent).
Weed Block is a good product to put down under graveled areas or mulched pathways. To be SURE your Weed Block is effective, rototill and amend the soil first. Because the Weed Block cannot form fit perfectly up to the fence, patio or sidewalk beside your planter area, you can sprinkle some Best Dimension® 270G Preemergent in the gaps. The main ingredient, Dithiopyr, is safer than Atrazine, but shouldn’t be used in large quantities. All herbicides should be used sparingly, by a professional if possible.
Best Dimension® 270G specialty herbicide provides preemergence and early postemergence control of crabgrass in a convenient granular formula. Made with Biodac, it is a consistently sized, environmentally friendly, virtually dust free carrier. Dimension® 270G can be used over the top of field- and container-grown nursery and landscape ornamentals, in established lawns, golf course fairways, roughs, tee boxes, and commercial sod farms.
Don’t Use Weed Block and/or Preemergent in Vegetable Gardens or Annual Beds
Some may be tempted to pull out the Weed Block when facing an herb or vegetable garden full of weeds. Vegetable gardens and annual beds are the two areas of your yard where the Weed Block is better left in the shed. Not only will it be cumbersome to use and re-use, you’ll probably miss out on seedlings from your favorite herbs and annuals you want to germinate. Annuals such as Zinnias and herbs such as Basil and many other annuals and herbs can put down seeds you may want grow.
Whether you’re installing plants in a planter area, or (especially) when you prepare to plant a vegetable garden or annual bed, be sure to rototill the area first. Weed Block will block weeds, but it will also block organic matter from decomposing and integrating into your soil and cause soil compaction. Placing Weed Block over soil that hasn’t been rototilled can make soil compaction worse. Over a long period of time, compacted soil leads to death of the microbes in your soil, which in turn means less nutrients available; aeration is reduced and drainage can be impaired.