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Common household remedies request

versailles_gardensI just ordered myself a yard of stonedust so I can make some nice, Versailles-like paths in my garden, in between the bricks that are already there. (I don't anticipate changing the layout much, now that I know how the sun works, so it's OK that the stonedust will compact and become semi-permanent (though maybe not)).

The problem is that the paths are now covered with weeds. Removing them sounds like work, and I'm afraid if I just layer the stone dust over them, I'll end up with weeds poking through the stone dust, and that's not what I want! Suggestions?

Maybe recycle some of the trash bags that I used to put leaves in, and bank the house with in the winter? Lay them down flat over the weeds, then cover with the stone dust?

Or am I being obsessive?

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nomnomnom1's picture
Submitted by nomnomnom1 on

had a lot of servants. Barring the same, the only thing that will eliminate weeds is regular use of pre-emergent herbicide. Even if you opt for the herbicide, pull the weeds first. Whatever you put down under your stone dust--plastic, vinyl, garbage bags, newspaper, weed cloth-- weeds will grow up it through it as well as afterward on top of the stone dust.
just the messenger.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

is right, unfortunately. Been there, done that. It's when the damn weeds start growing right on top of the geocloth (that was what I used). At that point they're just laughing at you.

Submitted by lambert on

Sheet mulching (mulch, newspaper, straw) controls weeds, so I don't see why weed barrier wouldn't.

Also, I don't think I'm aiming for permanence; we're not talking patio here. This link makes me think I'm going to want to shovel the stone dust over the beds before winter, so a biodegradable weed barrier might work just fine.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

kills weeds, so I'd be inclined to go with your plan as originally conceived (with sufficiently thick layers).

Admittedly, my experience is with window boxes. But I'm lazy about weeding, and you'd be surprised at how many volunteers (AKA weeds) I get, including pigweed, oxalis, ...

And then there's the squirrel who keeps planting stuff.

Submitted by Lex on

I'm experimenting with that paper weed barrier in the vegetable garden. So far i don't like it at all. It's next to impossible to work with, doesn't let water through and rips if you look at it wrong. Now i'm using it around squash and cucumber so your mileage may very, lambert...but the ripping/tearing problem will be huge for you.

The key with any mulch is to stop light, which is why wood mulches need to be a minimum of 4 inches thick to be effective. (yes, weeds will still germinate...especially if you overwater, but they can't root very well so they're easy to pull)

I assume that the rock dust will be spread just thick enough to make a path. Trouble if you go with the paper weedblock.

In my experience pre-emergents are hit or miss. On the whole, i'm not impressed enough with them to pay for them. (and regular reapplication means plenty of paying)

Whatever you do, you'll have to kill those weeds before you do the rest of the work or you'll regret your laziness. Boiling water will do it, as will vinegar if you're against pulling or more conventional herbicides. As with any chemical treatment, combine with manual removal. Sorry, no two ways about it...especially if you want to be organic. There's no such thing as both successful and lazy gardening.

I'll be looking into the rock dust claims. I've seen a lot of claims like that but few of them live up to the expectations. I might even try it.

Submitted by gob on

I've been getting the long-neglected brick paths cleared; they were overrun for years by dandelions and quackgrass. I didn't want to use evil Monsanto's Roundup, so did a little research and found a Penn State paper claiming that ordinary white vinegar is nearly as effective. Sure enough, my brick paths are now brick again. I have to repeat the application, but it sure beats giving my money to those bastards. And it seems to be less toxic than Roundup (which isn't very toxic, but still --). Be careful. It kills everything, just like Roundup.

As for the barriers: I've been cursing them as I try to control an amazingly invasive weed in my parents' garden. This weed delights in sending its root system under the barrier, popping out impudently on the other side. The only way to kill it is to take up the cloth or plastic, dig out the entire root system, and put it down again. I will never, ever use black plastic or the like to try to keep out weeds after this experience.

For me, a big push at the start to get them under control, followed by casual hand pulling is enough. But I have a somewhat live-and-let-live attitude; I don't expect a weed-free garden.

Submitted by lambert on

... doesn't that simplify things?

That is, the rock dust is a good soil amendment, especially for my heavy, clay-y soil.

So at the end of the year, I shovel the soil onto the beds!

Doesn't that simplify everything? Sounds to me like:

1. Non-obsessive weed removal (i.e., bare ground not a requirement) followed by

2. The application of vinegar

3. A bio-degradable layer

4. Then the rock dust

5. Pull or vinegar-ize the occasional weed

6. Shovel rock dust onto beds in October or November

ought to work just fine!

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

The six step process will definitely work for six months or so, especially if winter is part of them. I don't know how persistent the acid in vinegar is. A lot of plants won't grow well, or at all, in acidified soils. That's one of the big problems with acid rain. (Sheesh. Remember when we used to worry about acid rain?) So if the acid gets broken down in a matter of days or even weeks, no problem. If it lasts for months, take that into account and don't apply for however long before spring.

Submitted by gob on

i.e., the 20% or more solutions sold for organic weed killing. You need serious protection from splashing that stuff on skin or (FSM forbid) in eyes.

I just use pickling vinegar.

Unfortunately I can't find hard info on persistence in the soil.