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Houston Flower Beds and Weeds


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Our beds are mostly dirt with remnant of mulch from days gone by. My parents (Ohio) say we need to dig up a bit, put sheeting down, and cover that with mulch.

I weeded the front bed by hand a few weekends ago (took over an hour, roots and all, and it is a small bed). Weeds were back w/in 48 hours.

1. Any good info on how to best construct flower beds in our climate to keep weeds out?

2. What are some good sprays to wipe out the weeds?

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A good method that uses no chemicals and adds to the soil is to put down cardboard or paper then mulch... To plant just put hole in the material and put in the seed. This will kill the weeds/grass or at least keep them in control. A second method that worls well is sterilizing the soil by putting down plastic sheeting for a couple of weeks and letting the sun cook the soil... I would try to avoid using chemicals as they can have longer lasting effects and might cause problems in the future if you wanted to plant edibles with your flowers.

D

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Rarely does newspaper or geo textile fabric (weed cloth) work here. The problem is that the weed seeds will still blow into the beds via the wind. The best thing to do, and it takes about two seasons to see the results, is to use a pre-emergent herbecide both in your lawn and your beds. What this does is sterilize the seeds that will bloom in the Spring and will significantly cut the Spring weeds down. It also creates a vapor barrier at the soil level that stops weed seeds. You then use the the pre-emergent herbecide again in the Spring in order to cut down your Fall weeds. After doing this for about a year you'll find that weeds are almost no problem at all.

You might find that it's necessary to use a post emergent from time to time, but those are scary to use in a flower bed.

Try this link to Randy Lemmon who is the host of Garden Line. He's very good with Southeast Texas horticulture. http://www.ktrh.com/pages/gardenline2.html

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A good method that uses no chemicals and adds to the soil is to put down cardboard or paper then mulch... To plant just put hole in the material and put in the seed. This will kill the weeds/grass or at least keep them in control. A second method that worls well is sterilizing the soil by putting down plastic sheeting for a couple of weeks and letting the sun cook the soil... I would try to avoid using chemicals as they can have longer lasting effects and might cause problems in the future if you wanted to plant edibles with your flowers.

D

Right now we just have Oleanders and Hawthorne bushes. We also have what I call crab grass plants that we plan on removing. Not sure what the trees are in the back yard.

I do plan on planting fruit trees at some point.

In the mean time what's the best way to de-weed? Theyre bad in both numbers and speed of growth...

Edited by Yankee_in_TX
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I've been "reclaiming" my beds after moving in 2 years ago and have found that newspaper and cardboard when layered under 4-6 inches of mulch (I use coastal hay or alfalfa) will keep down all but the most stubborn weeds (I've got some tall plant that smells like licorice when bruised, that I cannot seem to get rid of)... Yes grass seeds will blow into the bed BUT cannot germinate because of the mulch thickness and will not penetrate the cardboard to reemerge from the ground. This coupled with raised beds/ good borders keeps out all grass with little effort. Keep in mind you want to maintain a clear area around the fruit tree base to promote rapid growth until mature. Here are a couple of good sources for info.

http://blogs.chron.com/lazygardener/2009/09/sept_21_creating_busy_work_in.html

www.urbanharvest.org

Hope this helps!

D

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I've been "reclaiming" my beds after moving in 2 years ago and have found that newspaper and cardboard when layered under 4-6 inches of mulch (I use coastal hay or alfalfa) will keep down all but the most stubborn weeds (I've got some tall plant that smells like licorice when bruised, that I cannot seem to get rid of)... Yes grass seeds will blow into the bed BUT cannot germinate because of the mulch thickness and will not penetrate the cardboard to reemerge from the ground. This coupled with raised beds/ good borders keeps out all grass with little effort. Keep in mind you want to maintain a clear area around the fruit tree base to promote rapid growth until mature. Here are a couple of good sources for info.

http://blogs.chron.com/lazygardener/2009/09/sept_21_creating_busy_work_in.html

www.urbanharvest.org

Hope this helps!

D

Not sure if the grass seed your refering to was in reference to my post, but I was speaking of weeds like Crabgrass, centipede, clover, dollarweed, etc. Not grass.

Another thing to consider is, if your going to lay down 4 plus inches of mulch be careful doing that around the base of any tree, and especially don't cover up the tap root. This promotes rot and can kill the tree over time. I see many folks in town doing it, and it's a big no no.

I still advise Yankee to look into Randy Lemmon's site. The guy is very knowledgable abouth South Texas horticulture.

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Not sure if the grass seed your refering to was in reference to my post, but I was speaking of weeds like Crabgrass, centipede, clover, dollarweed, etc. Not grass.

Another thing to consider is, if your going to lay down 4 plus inches of mulch be careful doing that around the base of any tree, and especially don't cover up the tap root. This promotes rot and can kill the tree over time. I see many folks in town doing it, and it's a big no no.

I still advise Yankee to look into Randy Lemmon's site. The guy is very knowledgable abouth South Texas horticulture.

Yeah I was refering to the same. I have raised beds and don't have trouble with any of those weeds, burmuda sneaks in every once in a while but with the thick mulch is easy to remove.

I agree on the mulch bit, I failed to make that point, thanks for clarifying! The way I have my fruit trees is a 1" deep 5 gallon "basin" built around the base with no mulch which I fill once to twice a week if there is no rain (I've worked with the soil and it's well draining, make sure if you take this approach otherwise it could damage the tree in the same fashion as Gary mentioned above. I've seen good growth since planting in June.

Either way, do the research, there's a million ways to handle it just depending on how much time you want to spend on it. I didn't mean to sound confrontational, I just try to avoid chemicals. A good example of this can be seen in my constant war with Spider mites, while I am avoiding using 7 dust, I have been able to "control" them but not rid my poor tomatoes of them. If you have any organic solutions or ideas Gary I would love to hear them. I use an organic "soap" right now, and would like something more effective.

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Yeah I was refering to the same. I have raised beds and don't have trouble with any of those weeds, burmuda sneaks in every once in a while but with the thick mulch is easy to remove.

I agree on the mulch bit, I failed to make that point, thanks for clarifying! The way I have my fruit trees is a 1" deep 5 gallon "basin" built around the base with no mulch which I fill once to twice a week if there is no rain (I've worked with the soil and it's well draining, make sure if you take this approach otherwise it could damage the tree in the same fashion as Gary mentioned above. I've seen good growth since planting in June.

Either way, do the research, there's a million ways to handle it just depending on how much time you want to spend on it. I didn't mean to sound confrontational, I just try to avoid chemicals. A good example of this can be seen in my constant war with Spider mites, while I am avoiding using 7 dust, I have been able to "control" them but not rid my poor tomatoes of them. If you have any organic solutions or ideas Gary I would love to hear them. I use an organic "soap" right now, and would like something more effective.

You didn't come across confrontational at all. I just wanted to clear up that I was speaking of weeds, not grass.

As far as good oragnic ideas: For spider mites try using "Pace picante sauce" (the hot version)and straining the liquid content into a spray bottle, then add about 5 parts water and spray. It works pretty well, but washes off quickly when it rains so you have to re-apply often. For a pre-emergent herbecide "corn gluten meal" works pretty well. A good fungal control, which should be applied now if your going to do it, is "Agricultural Corn Meal".

Edit: Found this from Randy Lemmon regarding organic insect killers. He says it's a formula in progress, but it sounds promising. Oh, and he's using it on potted plants, but if it works, it should work on bedded plants as well.

http://www.ktrh.com/pages/gardenline-insectspray.html

Edited by Gary
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  • 1 month later...

Weed killers did nothing, the clovers came back with a vengeance.

Pulled ALL the weeds, and scrapped off the leaves, crappy mulch, and a little dirt.

Put down sheeting from Lowe's, and then tossed painted bark on top.

So far, so good.

Now, to till the back yard and plant sod.....

A Pre-emergent herbecide will take care of your weed issues permanantly, but they must be applied correctly and at the right time of year. Oh, and it normally takes two seasons to see the results because your taking preventitive steps for fall and spring weeds.

Randy Lemmon is a great source. http://ktrh.com/pages/gardenline2.html

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  • 4 months later...

Any advice for killing clovers in flower beds? The mulch layer (IMO) is too thin and the weed screen is doing nada against the. They're popping up faster than I can pull them.

Long term we're going to add a wall of pavers and double the mulch thickness (but that requires gutter cleanings first, long story). Anything effective in the mean time?

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Any advice for killing clovers in flower beds? The mulch layer (IMO) is too thin and the weed screen is doing nada against the. They're popping up faster than I can pull them.

Long term we're going to add a wall of pavers and double the mulch thickness (but that requires gutter cleanings first, long story). Anything effective in the mean time?

As you discovered it's easy to pull out. Consider it your spring workout!biggrin.gif It will abate as the weather gets hotter. Do know that it charges the bed with beneficial nitrogen, so it's doing its part to help your flowers grow.

Edited by Porchman
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I will be going through the trash to pull out all my yard crap thanks to the new COH rules. Need to stop at Home Depot and buy the special yard waste bags... Grrrr.

Kroger if you need them - hardware stores are sold out. $.63 per bag. Note sure what to do with items too large for the bags (such as tree branches...).

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I will be going through the trash to pull out all my yard crap thanks to the new COH rules. Need to stop at Home Depot and buy the special yard waste bags... Grrrr.

Why not start a compost? They have those "quick composters" that do a pretty good job... I used a few old pallets and built a couple of slow compost piles. We throw leaves and kitchen scraps in there. When it comes to branches we usually bury them in the bottom of the compost and they dissappear in 3 months or so. Seems to me this would be the cheaper route in the long run.

D

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Kroger if you need them - hardware stores are sold out. $.63 per bag. Note sure what to do with items too large for the bags (such as tree branches...).

Note that they recommend you keep the bags store at below 80F, so the bags for your yard waste should probably be store inside the home. There's some counter-intuition for you.

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Note that they recommend you keep the bags store at below 80F, so the bags for your yard waste should probably be store inside the home. There's some counter-intuition for you.

Thanks for that information. I will move mine (which I found at Costco, FYI if anyone is looking for them).

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Why not start a compost? They have those "quick composters" that do a pretty good job... I used a few old pallets and built a couple of slow compost piles. We throw leaves and kitchen scraps in there. When it comes to branches we usually bury them in the bottom of the compost and they dissappear in 3 months or so. Seems to me this would be the cheaper route in the long run.

D

Property is too small.

Thanks for the responses guys, good info.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Property is too small.

Thanks for the responses guys, good info.

how small is too small?

I have what I consider a very small yard (front and back), but I have a large old pecan in the back yard, and am growing an oak in the front yard. both produce enough leaves to fill a compost bin I made out of 2x4 and chicken wire overfull.

you don't even need a true compost bin for just leaves. get some of the big trash bags, fill them with leaves tie them up and toss them in the garage. They'll compost.

if you don't have anywhere to use the compost, that's another story.

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That.

well, you can use that same composted material on your yard, you don't need a flower bed to use compost. if you have some trees or shrubs that you are concerned about during the winter, piling compost (or dead leaves) around the base will help keep the root system alive.

there's lots of uses for compost, other than just putting in a flower bed.

anyway, it's an option that doesn't include adding to the waste we throw out.

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well, you can use that same composted material on your yard, you don't need a flower bed to use compost. if you have some trees or shrubs that you are concerned about during the winter, piling compost (or dead leaves) around the base will help keep the root system alive.

there's lots of uses for compost, other than just putting in a flower bed.

anyway, it's an option that doesn't include adding to the waste we throw out.

Gonna' get some weed and feed today. The lawn is just too decimated from the previous owner, I'm not sure following Randy's schedule would give me the results I want without it taking 1-2 years.

Also noticed someone previously got rid of shrubs or tree shutes along the fence line by wacking them 1/2 inch under the soil. They're all growing back, lol. Go to pull a weed and find it attached to a tree just under the soil!

Need to level some areas of the yard and try to slope the dog run away from the house. Any advice other than a sturdy metal rake and sweat?

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Gonna' get some weed and feed today. The lawn is just too decimated from the previous owner, I'm not sure following Randy's schedule would give me the results I want without it taking 1-2 years.

Also noticed someone previously got rid of shrubs or tree shutes along the fence line by ng them 1/2 inch under the soil. They're all growing back, lol. Go to pull a weed and find it attached to a tree just under the soil!

Need to level some areas of the yard and try to slope the dog run away from the house. Any advice other than a sturdy metal rake and sweat?

DON'T DO IT! Stay away from the weed and feed, it's poison. Go get a 19-4-9 fertilizer (or similar), deal with the weeds for about three weeks then apply a pre-emergent herbecide for the fall weeds. I know it takes more time to see the results, but it's more than worth it. The pre-emergent herbecide is much different than a weed and feed in that it sterilizes the seedlings which means they won't be back next year. All the weed and feed does is kill the root system, but does nothing to the seedlings. Remember that the weed and feeds are loaded with surfactants and are hazardous to almost any plants, save St Augustine/bermuda grasses, not to mention how terrible they are for the organic matter of your soil.

If you'll use the proper fertilizer plan, have decent sunlight and irrigate properly, your St Augustine will thrive and choke out many of the weeds(clover, nutsedge).

As far as leveling... Top soil from Houston Garden Center works great.

Edited by Gary
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