So how do I get rid of a carpet of weeds?

cjra(TX)May 14, 2008

Kind of discussed in my crabgrass post, but a little more specific:

The next lawn we want to tackle is 90% weeds. A mixture, but mostly big leafy things. There's a bit of bermuda mixed in.

The one stretch I worked on already I did entirely by hand and am too sore to do the whole are like that. So we thought we'd till, but dchall says that's a bad idea. How does one get rid of an area that's 90% weeds (whole stretch is about 12ft by 16ft or so) that doesn't involving pulling them out one by one?

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Let it get up to 3 or more inches, hit it with a good heavy application of Round Up Pro, the kind that is in granular form with Diquant. Wait four days. Scalp and bag the clippings. Spray again with RU, wait another 4 days and regrade with tractor and box blade. Then you are ready to go

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:24PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

What kind of grass do you want to have there? Do you have any of it in there now?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 12:22AM
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Do not till! If you have bermuda in that area and have a pump up tank sprayer, you can get a combination broadleaf/narrowleaf weed killer and spray the whole area to kill all of the weeds except the bermuda. Spray the whole area and then spray again 10-12 days later.

The area will turn brown, but the bermuda will fill in quickly if you fertilize and water it.

The "big leafy things" are broadleaf weeds, and you most likely have some narrowleaf weeds in there also like crabgrass. Put down some Dimension preemergent on the area to keep crabgrass and other weed seeds from germinating. I posted a link below to give you an idea of what to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: WOP

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:02AM
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I forgot to mention that Bayer makes a product that you attach to your hose and spray. It's called Bayer Advanced All-In-One lawn weed and crabgrass killer and lowes or home depot or even a wal-mart garden center has it.

If you have enough bermuda in that area and want to keep it, I thought this product may be more easy to apply instead of having to use a pump up sprayer.

I have always used the pump up sprayers and have never used the Bayer. It may be worth a shot though.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 3:23AM
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On second thought, as for the fertilizer and preemergent, go to a wal-mart garden center and pick up a combination fertilizer/preemergent like Scotts Turf Builder Plus Halts to put on the area.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:40PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

What's so bad about tilling? Will it cause major problems? The area is already quite uneven and we'll be adding a few inches of dirt to even it out anyway. There are ditches/gullies/holes to fill in throughout.

I was sort of hoping to avoid using chemicals, if possible. How about 'soil solarization', which I understand is just 'cooking' the weeds under plastic. Has anyone tried this? Any tips?

There's an area where we've set up an above ground pool a couple of summers. When we take it down there's a flying saucer-like landing pad of dirt. After a few months (of doing nothing) wonderful grass appears. I figure it's kind of the same thing....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:29PM
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Solorizing works, but will take several weeks to a couple of months to work effectively. I use it ocassionaly to prepare planting beds, start in July, leave it covered until mid September, then cover in compost to be planted the following spring. Don't think you are looking at next season are you?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 4:02PM
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True...we were hoping to get moving on it now. But that's a good idea for some other areas we're planning to wait til next season to address.

Is the main problem with tilling that the yard gets lumpy? It already IS lumpy and full of holes, so we already plan to spend some time filling those in and levelling things out. Or will the tilling end up doing something 'bad' to the ground? (ie, encouraging weeds?)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 4:30PM
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All the above.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 5:11PM
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Oh, OK. I failed to ask if the area was uneven, I was assuming that it was pretty much even and that was one of the reasons I said to not till it. The problem with tilling is that it can make the area tilled have high/low spots over a couple of years from soil settlement and you will be right back to having ditches/gullies/holes to fill in, and it also stirs up weed seeds to the surface.

I have never tried soil solarization and do not know much about it, but it may work in your situation and to avoid using chemicals.

The area you want to till is really not that big (12x16) so you might as well go for it, if you really want to. Mow it down as short as possible and use a bagger if you have one. After tilling, spread the dirt around to get the grade you want and then use a lawn roller on it. You may have to add more dirt as you go along and roll it again.

Spray it down with water a couple of times to further settle the area. Let it dry out for a few days and spread your clear plastic over the area for about 3 or 4 weeks.

That should kill all of your weed seeds also.

Another option, that you could do, is to mow the weeds as low as possible and then fill in all of your low spots with dirt and settle it as much as possible to get it as even as possible with the surrounding area. Then lay your clear plastic down for 3 or 4 weeks.

Or, can you just set the area on fire?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:32PM
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Fire would be easy, huh? Except it's too close to our all wood house in a hot dry area....

Yes, it's a small area, and since I couldn't convince my husband NOT to till, we went ahead and tilled. The birds were excited... Now we're picking up the weeds, raking it out, and will cover for 4 weeks and see what happens.

I know it'll settle and have to be refilled a number of times. We already have that problem elsewhere. The previous owners had dogs who tore up the yard, so there were holes everywhere. WE've filled them in and will keep doing so as needed.

I'll let you all know how it worked in about 4 weeks. Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 12:01AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Solarizing only works in full sun. If you live where I think you live, you don't have full sun.

The biggest problem with tilling in prep for turf is that when it settles, it settles unevenly. So if you were hoping to get rid of the lumps by tilling, you will be back where you started in a couple years. I have other reasons for not tilling but the damage is done. No sense beating a dead horse. If you were going to go to the extreme of nuking the turf anyway, you would have been much better off to cover it with sand and level the sand.

You never did answer the questions about what kind of grass you wanted to have in there and whether you already have that grass in place among the weeds. What are your ultimate plans for that area?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 11:10AM
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The purpose of the tilling was really to pull up some roots and get to what's underneath. The top is all hard and cracked. We got a ton of roots up and pulled out a lot of weeds. We'll be adding a bunch of new dirt and levelling. I've no doubt that will be a long process, but that's ok.

This particular stretch does have full sun. It does have a small crepe myrtle, but that doesn't shade it much. This side faces the south, and being on the corner gets morning, afternoon and evening sun, only a tiny bit of it gets filtered by the crepe myrtle. My only worry is that it'll end up with a greenhouse effect and grow even better under the plastic.....

That side has some bermuda already (and we left some areas. Plans for that stretch (which is actually bigger than I said - 37x17, I finally measured it today) are not settled yet. It'll have some bermuda in the center, but we're going to semi-xeriscape. I say 'semi' because we do want some grass, but we'd like to minimize water requirements. I'm going to put a border in around the perimeter, though I haven't decided which plants to put in. The border will be ~2 ft in (a little more around the wrap-around porch to incorporate some bushes already there.

Along the fence line I'm still debating. We have an ugly chain link fence which we hate, but aren't planning to remove it any time soon. There's bermuda outside the fence in the front (no sidewalk there), but I was thinking of putting in some ivy-type ground covering (sorry, still learning all the names) which will creep over the ugly fence. On the inside we'll have the mulch with some drought-tolerant plants. There's an ivy-type plant growing elsewhere along the fence, but it's pretty messy and strangles the cedar elm, so I'm not sure I want to keep that.

The whole property is 1/4 acre, so we have a fair amount of yard to deal with. As we're still in the midst of interior restorations, the outside is a slow process. It's mainly getting attention now because it's one of the few things I can do with my little one (compared to painting, sanding, hanging sheetrock....)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 6:53PM
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Fire would be easy, huh?

Fire won't do squat, it does not get hot enough long enough to do anything..

A Box blade with scafers will rip up roots, pipes, utilities, and anything elses that gets in its way.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 7:01PM
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Just kidding about the fire :)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 1:12AM
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