Front yard war-zone

tumbleweed_growerJune 19, 2010

Hi everyone. I live in the high desert of southern Utah where tumbleweeds grow rampant. Actually, tumbleweeds, foxtails, goatheads... you name it. Our house came with some nicely landscaped river rock covering most of the front yard.

Over the course of a year and a very wet winter, the rock sank, mixed with clay/mud and has become a tumbleweed haven. There's no kind of weedblock underneath it and typical weeding advice is moot since there's river rock spread over the whole thing (can't take a shovel or hoe to it).

I'm thinking of laying down some kind of a weedblock and placing some more stone on top. I can't figure out though, what kind to use. I've read pros an cons of weaved fabric and plastic but given the dry, arid climate, I don't know which one would be better.

Drainage only becomes an issue when 2 feet of snow decides to melt in late winter. Aside from that, it's usually hot and dry.

Chemicals are a strict NO, but if there was a more natural way to completely vaporize tumbleweeds and prevent them from ever growing again, I'm all ears!

(Yes, the name is ironic, isn't it?)

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So that I'm straight on this; there is no landscaping fabric under the rock? The other thing to consider is the grading of the soil. I really hate to say this but you may have to remove the rock and possibly regrade because of the sinking. That means bringing in more soil to even out the grade and irradicating the tumblweed. This could be done by treating the soil with an herbacide. Know you are not very receptive to this. However it may be the only way and would probably only have to be done one time. Another thing to consider is to go more heavy on the rock mulch. Meanig add more.

Also is the Tumbleweed growing close to or invading exsiting plant material? That may be it's enterance to the rest of the area. I admit I don't know much about Tumbleweed but I do know that at times weeds will take advantage of any chance they get to get going. Sounds like a big job. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 1:23AM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Eventually weeds will grow on top of landscape fabric==save your money.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 8:07AM
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Rock yard or pathways will eventually gather enough dust/debris organic material over the years to sprout seeds. But these plants typically are not very robust and are easily pulled out. Short of digging up the rock bed and screening it to remove fines and organics every few years- weeding is just the price for this type of surface treatment. If the rock layer was sufficiently deep and rock size was very large it would take awhile for a suitable seed substrate to be realized, but once again that's only delaying the inevitable.

Weeding can be performed without residual chemicals using a flame type of weeder.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 8:43AM
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You could also consider using groundcover plants to crowd out weeds...
In my area Heather works very well and solved my issue. I basically do nothing and they would do the hardwork for me and even give me beautiful blooms yearly. :)
What is your plant zone? I would suggest you look for a plant to deal with this issue.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 7:57PM
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Try looking at the High Country Nursery webpage for xeric hot weather plants.

Roundup is a non-persistent herbicide, which applied properly per label instructions shouldn't make it a large risk at all.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 10:10AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

rhodium, did you mean High Country Gardens? In any case, they're xeric, located in Santa Fe, have extremely informative catalogs and website, and ship well. (I've ordered from them, as we were recently in a major drought and not able to water regularly. Rather pricey, but if the plants don't have to be replaced, not so bad.)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 10:39AM
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