Promoting Organic Solutions & Practices For Landscaping Issues

Weeding, watering, fertilizing, insect and disease problems all have healthy alternatives to keep the “green industry” truly GREEN!

Weeding by hand can be relaxing but also taxing if large areas need attention and little forethought was given to preparing the site before planting. One easy, organic solution to weed control in beds involves laying down cardboard or multiple sheets of newspaper (6 or more), cover with mulch, compost, or other organic matter. Cut holes (before planting) or place the paper near the crown of existing desired plants. This method works well to smother out most existing vegetation, but will NOT work to control persistent perennial weeds such as crown vetch, Virginia creeper, bindweed, and tough creeping grasses like Bermuda grass.

Nutsedge can be a particularly tough weed to control. According to an article in Horticulture magazine, it can be managed through regular careful removal of the Nutsedge plants before they flower. Pull or dig individual weeds or clumps carefully, making sure to remove roots along with the grassy top growth. Loosen the soil in the area with a spade or weeding tool because Nutsedge prefers compacted soil. I have found this process effective in eradicating the problem in some areas.

To control weeds without dangerous chemicals, try spraying undesirable vegetation with vinegar. The acetic acid which kills plants is relatively low in culinary vinegar, so you can boil the vinegar to increase its acidity and add the heat of the liquid to aid in killing vegetation. Horticultural vinegar is higher in acetic acid but not widely available. Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide (kills everything it comes in contact with) so use caution when applying it. You can also paint it on or pour it directly on targeted weeds and/or their taproot. Apply to annual weeds before they set seed and especially to perennial weeds in early fall so they will absorb the vinegar deeply into their roots while attempting to store food for the winter. Boiling water poured slowly from a tea kettle a few inches above the plant crown can also kill weeds. Take care not to scald yourself or surrounding desirable vegetation. Two or three repeated applications will be necessary when using these natural weed killers.

Watering recommendations vary depending on what you are growing and when it was planted. Grouping plants with similar water needs and putting the “right plant in the right place” (for example: moisture loving plants in low lying and poorly draining areas, dry loving plants in raised beds, etc.) helps manage water useage.

Until a newly planted item is established, watch soil moisture carefully to avoid drying out or drowning tender new roots. Check the planted area daily for a few weeks, then weekly for the first year. Use your finger to test for moisture at the surface level. A straight screwdriver inserted into the soil should go in and come out easily and can tell you how deeply the moisture has penetrated. This recommendation continues for the first year. Water throughout the year when rainfall is less than 1” per week or winter precipitation is less than 1’ per month. Only water in the winter if temperatures are above freezing and the ground can absorb moisture.

Fertilization and insect and disease control are organically addressed at Narrow Tree Nurseries. We carry Bradfield organic fertilizers, cotton burr compost, peat moss, and Natural Guard Soil Activator with humic acid. For insect and disease problems we sell Neem Oil, Insecticidal Soap, Copper Soap Liquid Fungicide, Spinosad, and Crawling Insect Control with diatomaceous earth.

Neem oil comes from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree. Neem oil controls mealy bug, armyworm, aphids, cabbage worm, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, and leafminers. Neem oil is not harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms or many beneficial insects such as butterflies, honeybees and ladybugs. It can be used as a household pesticide for ants, bedbugs, cockroach, housefly, snail, termite and mosquitoes both as repellent and larvicide. Neem oil also controls black spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose and rust (fungus).

Insecticidal soap works best on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Many pollinators and predatory insects such as Lady beetle adults, bumble bees, and syrphid flies are unaffected. Plants under drought conditions and certain cultivars of azalea, poinsettia, begonia, impatiens, lantana, gardenia, bleeding heart, ferns, palms and succulents may be sensitive to insecticidal soap. Soap sprays, alone or in combination with horticultural oils or botanical oils help control powdery mildew.

Spinosad is manufactured from a naturally occurring soil dwelling bacteria. This biological pest control excites the nervous system of insects and is relatively fast acting. Insects die within 1 to 2 days after ingesting the active ingredient. It controls a variety of insect pests, including fruit flies, caterpillars, leafminers, thrips, sawflies, spider mites, fire ants, and leaf beetle larvae. Spinosad does not harm most beneficial insects.

Article reprinted from Narrow Tree Nurseries


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One Response to “Promoting Organic Solutions & Practices For Landscaping Issues”

  1. Logan Andros Says:

    Very good article, very much, but there is little requirement is to make your web site can be a good link, in order to promote together.

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