The spring/summer of 2015 have been fairly wet and we are seeing quite a few weed problems on many properties.
At ELC, we include in our contracts that weeds should be kept to a reasonable level. This, admittedly, is open to interpretation both from a Property Manager’s point of view and to the Provider. However, it allows some flexibility in the contract. For example, a few weeds in the loading dock does not make a crisis. On the other hand, those same weeds by the front entrance are a major problem.
To pull or not to pull
We have a very clear rule at ELC. Any weed that is 2″ or less can be sprayed and left to die, anything else needs to be pulled by hand. This eliminates the dead, brown carcass of the dying weed languishing along the sidewalk for a week or two until someone removes it.
When pulling weeds, it is important to get the root system out with it. You can’t just snap the top off or you’ll have a bright, shiny new weed in the same place within days. They are tenacious buggers.
Mulching landscape beds helps to curb weed growth. Hardwood mulch is easily the best for preventing weeds. You need 3-4″ of mulch to keep weed seeds form germinating. The chemicals that are released while the mulch is biodegrading into the soil act as a natural pre-emergent. As well, any weeds that do germinate in the upper layers of the mulch are fairly easy to remove before they get too big.
Do not install landscape fabric under hardwood mulch. You will actually get more weeds because the mulch cannot adhere to the soil.
Q: What do I do if there are a lot of weeds in a hardwood mulched bed?
A: Get rid of the weeds that are there first. Spray ones that are 2″ or shorter and pull the others. After you get the bed cleaned up, topdress with 2 or 3″ of mulch to have a base of 3-4″. Mulch degrades at about 1″ per year so we recommend a topdressing each spring of 1″. That is also a good time to remove any landscape fabric that may be underneath.
Q: What do I do with weeds in a rock bed?
A: Rocked beds stay fairly clean for the first five years or so, but as sand, dust and debris collects in between the rocks it becomes a great place for seeds to take root. You can add additional rock a time or two but after that you need to remove the rock and clean it or add new on top of new weed barriers.
You may also see weeds in rock beds if the weed barrier (plastic or fabric) has been punctured or degraded over time. In this instance, you need to pull everything out and install new weed barrier.
Q: What can I do with weeds in parking lots, loading docks, sidewalk cracks and along curblines?
A: Weeds in parking lot cracks, along walls and curblines are pretty easy to manage. Spray them.
It is pretty difficult to get the root system pulled from these areas, so you will need to spray them instead of pulling – hopefully when they are little. If they do get larger, you can spray them and at the next service, use a line trimmer to whack them back down to the ground and clean up.
If you are having a lot of problems with weeds in those areas, you can combine a pre-emergent to the liquid chemical that will keep new weeds from sprouting. As with any chemical, only use them when necessary.