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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Safe, natural weed killers you can use if safety is a concern at your house


There are several natural weed killers around that won't kill or injure wildlife, pets, birds or children. If you have any of these around, you may want to be safety-conscious and use one of these alternatives to Roundup. Nobody makes a ton of money by selling this stuff, which is why you don't see them advertised. But they work safely, and that's what matters.
1.  Vinegar – A favorite choice for natural herbicide use is 10% white vinegar made from grain alcohol. It should be used full strength.  Nature's Guide now has a  20% vinegar registered and sold as an organic weed killer: works well!  Vinegar Herbicide Formula:
      1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) vinegar
      Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
      Add 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
      1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant

      Do not add water!

Shake the mixture well before each spraying and spot spray weeds. Keep the spray off desirable plants. This spray will injure any plants it touches. This natural spray works best on warm to hot days.

Vinegar sprayed on the bases of trees and other woody plants will not hurt the woody plants at all.  Use only natural vinegars and avoid all vinegars made from glacial acetic acid.

2.  Molasses - Dry or liquid molasses can be used to safely kill hard-to-control weeds. The dry product is used at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. as a fertilizer and fire ant repellent. Doubling that rate causes a herbicidal effect on certain weeds.

3. Corn Gluten Meal - It is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. It should be broadcast to prevent grassburs, crabgrass, and other annual weeds that germinate from seed. The key is to broadcast the material before the weed seeds germinate.  “CGM” on the bare soil around the young plants feeds them, to help develop big healthy plants while keeping the competing weeds at bay. CGM can also be used in seed planting but only after the seeds have grown into small seedlings.

4. Crabgrass Killer - Crabgrass Killer is a natural weed killer used to kill crabgrass, chickweed, and other similar weeds. Cinnamon bark is the active ingredient in the Agralawn product. It’s especially effective on clovers of all kinds. Apply it dry to moistened foliage, to kill quickly without hurting most grasses in a typical lawn.

5. Fatty Acid & Plant Oil Products -  There are several of these fancy, strong soaps and plant oil products on the market including Monterrey, EcoSmart, Herbicidal soap, Scythe, and Racer. They are non-selective herbicides that usually have to be sprayed more than once.

6. Hand Tools and Mowers - Hand weeding is always recommended and it doesn't take much time if done a little at a time, regularly. Many lawn weeds, especially the purple Henbit coming up now, are easily controlled or eradicated with a once-over with your lawn mower! In fact, most weeds, if you keep cutting them down with a lawn mower, will just die.

 

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Here come the Hummingbirds. Are you ready?

Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Costas' Hummingbird
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are about to arrive in north Texas (a few are already here). An excellent check on their daily northward progress is at the migration maps at  www.hummingbirds.net . So put out nectar feeders now, to attract the early arrivers.

A few people have told me that they'll put out nectar feeders whenever they see their first Hummingbird, which is thinking that's illogically backwards. Now is when Hummingbirds establish their nesting locations and movements for the entire summer: where they will look for food, where they can safely build their tiny nests and so on.

 

 


A hawk’s buffet      Hawks, falcons, kites (“raptors”) love it when you put birdfeeders out in the open - like in the middle of a lawn.  A "targeted bird" has no way to get away. All but the bravest, or dumbest songbirds, on the other hand, try out-in-the-open feeders. Every feeder absolutely needs a nearby escape route. Shrubs, tall native grasses, even a discarded christmas tree should be no more than 4 to 6 feet from a feeder, so songbirds don’t wind up as a predator's lunch.



 
OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.