Weed control in rose beds

jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)April 24, 2008

I've tried covering with newspaper and grass clippings. I've tried pulling or digging up the weeds. That lasted about a week as it was too tedious. Now I know most here apply a thick mulch of like pine bark. I never did that and maybe I've been lucky as according to a current thread it seems that most of those who do that end up with canker. Of course the case is not proven that leaving the mulch causes canker.

Anyway I'm going to try a new approach. Just spading the soil. Turning over the soil, burying the weeds so they decompose adding organic matter and killing them. Pulling weeds just leaves some roots to carry on. Spading is the old fashioned way to prepare the vegetable garden.

Now I'm really jumping to conclusions here as I've only done it in a very small patch of one bed. But it was much easier to do than pulling or doing my usual thing of the newspaper and grass clippings. It looks good too. All that mulch is so artificial looking like they do around office buildings where the plants also look artificial.

Anybody do this?

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roseman(Z 8A GA)

I like about 2-4 inches of mini pine bark nuggets, and have few weed problems. When I do have them, just a few shakes of Preen does the trick. I have also painted the weed's leaves with Roundup. Note, I said painted, because spraying the weeds with the material can allow for drift and that's not great for the roses.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:08AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Similar to roseman (hello!), Preen then mulch. But, for those weeds that send out runners, you have to dig those out or paint on the Roundup.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:19AM
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margaretk(Dallas 7/8)

This is very interesting to me, as weeding the rosebeds is my least favorite thing to do, and as Jim pointed out, it is on-going. It's hot, dirty work, and I generally wind up lying on my stomach to reach around the roses. I get scratched, stabbed, and then comes the VERY graceful operation of getting oneself upright in the midst of the roses, without getting impaled, or breaking off buds. WHEW! What a sight!

I'm interested in the Roundup paint option. I've always avoided it, because I was afraid the Roundup would go to the root, kill the weed, and then travel in the soil. Not true? Is this a viable option without harming the roses in close proximity? This would be GREAT news, frankly.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:37AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

If you've had any problems with crown gall, spading near your roses roots would not be good, as you'd be breaking root hairs and letting the bacteria in.
I am also hesitant to use any systemic herbicides on any potentially perennial weeds.
Read Golino's paper on RMV transmission between roses for the results of Glyphosate going voliatile (it didn't) and being transmitted root to root (it apparently did.) (in the Acta Hort on the Rose Conference in Ca in '06)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 12:23PM
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I get as close as i can with the riding lawn mower and clip with grass shears or pull. i don't do wood mulch anymore cause it gets caught in the shears. I don't really have rosebeds though, mine are planted in the yard.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 2:30PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

A thick layer of pine bark does the trick. Then hand pulling. There is no other safe way.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:14PM
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How do you do the RoundUp paint thing? I think I am going to have to use that method to get rid of some Queen Anne Lace which is mixed in with a baby clematis. I tried digging, digging, digging last year to no avail. Now I must resort to something harsher.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:42PM
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I actually don't have any weeds at all in my rose bed. I don't know why. I don't use mulch, just a thick layer of compost and manure. Maybe no weeds is one benefit of my bed being surrounded by concrete on all 4 sides.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:49PM
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kandm(8b coastal alabama)

There is an amazing tool called GrandPa's Weeder that works they sell it at www.cleanairgardening.com/grandpa.html and also either at qvc or hsn.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:58PM
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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

Digging in the soil just brings up more weed seeds to sprout. The cycle has to be stopped. Cultivate, then put Preen on. It will leave a chemical barrier that will stop annual seeds from sprouting. Note is you disturb the chemical barrier, it will have to be applied again to that area

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 4:07PM
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jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)

I'm using a very small shovel, about 6" deep. Frankly I don't see any small roots. The point of spading is to turn over the soil, burying the weeds that die along with their roots. Try it!

When did it get modern to not cultivate the soil? We have survived on this planet by cultivating it. The micro whatever are every where in the soil and a bit of stirring will not kill them or disturb them.

And surely using chemicals no matter how carefully used will not be better than cultivating.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 5:58PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I have been weeding, and it is very time consuming.
I think Preen destroyed my columbine, and some other flowers. Wasn't it Malcolm Manners who indicated that Round Up may travel on mulch?

I have a spade fork (small for women), and I put it into the soil, and lift gently. That makes it easier to get the weeds out. I must do this every spring, but it gets rather tedious when it gets hot in the summer.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 6:55PM
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Actually, I did maintain 2 long borders by spading the soil for a couple of years. I theorized that the green material being turned into the soil would help condition/amend it. I actually think it did help. Normally when the soil is turned, dormant weed seeds are exposed and many will germinate; however, after repeated cultivation the germination rate lowers significantly. Because of the size of the beds, it became too much work to continue to cultivate, so I spread a little preen, applied a nice layer of mulch and my weed problems have been relatively minimal since then. I am sure, of course, many others have other opinions on this approach.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 7:17PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

When I was a kid, my brothers and I got weeding detail instead of getting grounded or losing allowance, etc. I finally figured it was a great opportunity to be by oneself, to indulge fantasies, invents stories, plan adventures and solve problems. You can go "off-planet" for hours and still end up with a sense of accomplishment and renewed order. It's also a great opportunity to observer closely--not only roses, but all the life happening in the around them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 8:31PM
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kandm(8b coastal alabama)

I like that idea for punishing children when they're old enough, just hope it doesn't turn them off gardening.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 8:43PM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

How about a ground cover? I use potentilla. It has sweet little yellow flowers and doesn't need a lot of water like grass. I give it a sprinkling of alfalfa meal in the spring along with the roses and other perennials. It is nearly evergreen in my climate. It might not work in yours but maybe a thyme or another low grower. Scroll down to the third row of pics to see it.


Here is a link that might be useful: potentilla

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:04PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Diana, that is a beautiful show. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:34PM
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I enjoyed that too - your yellow roses are lovely! Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:47PM
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decobug(z6a Idaho SW)

Roundup does go to the root, kill the weed, and then travel in the soil harming the rose roots in close proximity...

Bark does not cause canker as long as it is kept away from the rose canes...

Preen is mulch soaked in herbicide. Another new one out is Vigoro Mulch. I tried that one last year in one area... didn't notice a difference between it and regular mulch... It stops weeds from germinating, but doesn't do anything to existing weeds...

The area with the best results was the area where I put newspaper covered with 3" of small pellet bark after weeding it to the best of my ability. This year I'm trying the dyed bark to see if it doesn't look all washed out by the end of the season...

Here is a link that might be useful: Preen Mulch

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:28PM
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canadian_rose(zone 3a)

I just hand weed, but I make sure the soil is very wet first, then the weeds just slide out!


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 12:13AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

We stopped cultivating the soil (or at least most of us did) because we figured out that every time the soil is turned, new weed seed are exposed.

Roses need mulch. Not as much as for keeping down weeds but for conserving moisture in the soil and (eventually) providing organic matter as it decomposes. Jim, as far as canker, you are thinking about "winter protection mulch", the kind people pile ON TOP their roses to keep them insulated in the winter, not the kind of mulch that goes on top the soil. Some people have said that bark or leaf mulch piled up onto the rose canes can cause canker, but this is not the case with mulching a rose bed.

I use a pretty thick layer of newspaper + shredded leaf mulch. If I didn't have the shredded leaves I would buy bark mulch (the black or brown stuff, not the red stuff). That's great that you enjoy turning the soil to control weeds vs. hand-picking, but your roses need mulch.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 6:29AM
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