eliminating weeds in mulch

What is the best way to eliminate weeds in mulch?
We purchased a home and the previous owner maintained a beautiful backyard. We are moving in soon and would like to keep it that way :) I do not have much a green thumb yet, but I am trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible although there is much to learn.
Walking through the backyard the other day I noticed there were many little weeds growing in the mulch. I say in the mulch because the previous owner said he had a weed barrier under the mulch. I assume weed seeds landed on the mulch and are beginning to sprout. I would prefer not to pick them by hand because there are thousands of them littered throughout the mulch.
And in the future is it a reasonable idea to apply pre-emergent on top of the mulch to prevent the problem?
We also have a crushed granite path that is suffering similar symptoms...I assume this should be treated/prevented in a manner consistent to the mulch?
What are some solutions to this problem?
Thanks in advance for your expertise.
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On Thu, 20 Mar 2008 06:24:10 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Go to this website and page down and look for a collinear hoe.
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_tools_equipment/article/0,,hgtv_3642_1383897,00.html
A most valuable tool.
No, I do not think pre-emergent weed control is needed. It is ruining our water, our soil, and it's not necessary. A little work won't kill anyone.
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On 3/20/2008 5:24 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If the weed barrier is still intact, the weeds should not grow above a certain size. First, check to make sure the barrier is still there. If it is, just pull the largest weeds and any that are starting to flower.
As for the decomposed granite path, hand weeding should be easy. I use a paring knife and a bucket as I slowly crawl along my paths. It's very relaxing. I also carry pruning and grass shears in case I need to trim the edges or groom spent flowers that are near the path.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Proper mulching can reduce problems.
Improper Mulching - http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/M/mulch.html
As far as herbicides go: http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/spring.html
I would not add more than 3-4" of mulch.
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Consulting Forester & Tree Expert www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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Also the non-woody roots are mostly in the upper four inches of soil and hoes and such can cause problems in that case.
Troubles in the Rhizosphere http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Consulting Forester & Tree Expert www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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Top posted just for you.
Do you even KNOW what a colinnear hoe looks like or how it works? No? Didn't think so. Nobody suggested putting a hoe into the upper four inches. The question posed was how to get rid of weeds in the MULCH.
On Thu, 20 Mar 2008 20:53:47 -0400, "symplastless"

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Most of what you label as weeds have roots that grow deeper then the non-woody roots in the upper four inches of soil. get a shovel and look for yourself.
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 21:30:41 -0400, "symplastless"

Oh c'mon already. These weeds on top of mulch are most likely henbit, chick weed, pig weed...I doubt there are deep tap root weeds in mulch which has weed fabric under it. I've been gardening for my whole life. Stick to trees and let gardeners answer garden questions.
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If the weed mat does not work then why spend the money?
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 22:45:45 -0400, "symplastless"
The weed mat does work in most instances, but birds still poop out seeds and seeds still travel by air, and by wind and they work their way into the humusy layer of the mulch and germinate. Let it go aleady. You are wrong, so just let it go.
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wrote:

Let what go? Where in nature is it natural for the separation of cellulose and soil as with weed mat? Why mulch? I.e., if its such a problem for you. You treat trees with pesticides, kill plants with herbicides. And if they work, why do you still have the same problems?
I will tell you exactly why with lucidity. IGNORANCE OFF TREE BIOLOGY! LACK OF COMMON SENSE (Which I as well, also suffer from)!
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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You are totally off your rocker on this one, even moreso than usual. If you can't understand the fact that seeds fall onto a mulch layer and germinate then you are the ignorant one. Even your precious trees do the same thing.
I just stir the mulch occasionally. There is no such thing as weedfree, various methods just take different levels of effort.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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On Sat, 22 Mar 2008 20:42:50 -0400, "symplastless"

Hey brain, I don't use any chemicals, not even organic ones outside of certified organic fertilizers. I don't use weed mats, the original poster of the thread does. I don't use herbicides either, which falls under the header, "I don't use chemicals of any sort not even organic, but I do use certified organic fertilizer," I was answering a question someone asked. He didn't ask for the blather you spewed around. He doesn't understand the biota of a tree, nor was he asking for it. Shit, he didn't even ask for tree advice. Let it go...if you don't know what that means, you're in more trouble than I previously thought.
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Wrote:

Mulch should not be deeper than 3-4". When roots grow into the mulch the mulch dries out and the roots die without forming the abscission zone which is a defense process for woody plants.
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
Mulching instructions:
Mulching - http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/M/mulch.html
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Consulting Forester & Tree Expert www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.
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Mulching has a lot of benefits and works best if it is renewed occasionally. Overall, I use a lot more mulch than I can afford to buy on a regular basis, so what I have done is contact a local tree trimming company and my electric company. When one of them has a good load of wood chips from a local job, they unload their chips into my mulch pile, which I then spread around the garden.
When needed, I turn the existing mulch with a fork while the new weeds are still small, then add a new top layer. Also I occasionally will touch up weedy areas with Roundup. This keeps weeds down and keeps the garden looking neat. Just keep the mulch away from the trunks of trees. I mulch right up to shrubbery like crepe myrtle and beauty-berry, and keep the mulch at least 3" thick -- 4-6 inches or more in most places.
For the gravel walkway, the easiest way is an occasional treatment with Roundup, which will kill off the weeds while leaving the gravel. You may want to also rake it occasionally to move the gravel around, and spritz it with a garden hose to get it looking clean.
3-4 inches of mulch is a minimum, not a maximum. As the mulch builds up and decomposes you wind up with very friable soil that is beneficial to the plants. Over the past few years my garden, once mostly sand, has become very healthy with a nice soft feel when you step on it. In places I probably now have 8-10 inches of mulch and compost (from previous mulch) and the plants -- roses, crepe myrtle, day lilies, plumeria, azaleas, cymbidium orchids, holly, etc. do extremely well. I have some impatiens that are now three feet high or more.
I don't like "weed-stop" because I find most weeds start from the top down and the fabric makes it very hard to work the soil, turn over the mulch, or install new plants.
I learned this "secret" from an extension agent who had an existing agreement with the electric company to take their wood chips, and his extensive garden now has 12" or more of mulch throughout, including around his citrus. It's a win-win situation -- they don't have to pay the county to dispose of their chips, and the user gets an endless supply of free mulch.
Regards --
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Dear Regards
As for trees as mostly for woody plants which maintain a symplast.
With respect. When mulch is more than 3-4" thick, the non woody roots tend to grow into the mulch. With the finer gradation of mulch, it dries out first. When a leaf is shed, first the leaf dies and then a abscission zone if formed and the leaf is shed. The abscission zone made up mostly of suberin. On trees like pin oaks and young beech, the abscission zone do not form for some reason. They hold on to their leaves over winter often. If you take and break off a leaf at the stem you will see that there is green tissue. Chlorophyll has to be constantly manufactured. Now with mycorrhizae and none woody roots the opposite happen. First the abscission zone is formed and then the mycorrhizae and non-woody roots die and are digested by microorganisms. Now, when the mulch has non-woody roots growing in it and the mulch dries out and the roots or mycorrhizae die, the abscission zone doe not form. This leaves an opening not sealed. Small to us but huge to micros that can incite disease.
Nurse logs hold water for dry times. A log that is 1 1/2 feet in diameter of larger and at least four foot long can hold water as a reservoir when it reaches that ecological stage. That is very important in forest health - downed wood with soil contact will become a water reservoir for trees during dry times. Mulch comes in different gradations. Nurse logs will have non-woody roots and mycorrhizae growing in them and this is a good thing. If you are using common mulch when roots grow into mulch you have too much mulch.
Here are some articles on the topic: http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/CHEM.html
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/RHIZO.html
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/WATER.html
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/index.html
FRESH CHIPS!
First allow me to define some terms. The "symplast" is a webwork of living cells (parenchyma) in branches, trunks and roots of trees that still produce leaves or needles. "Mulch" is anything that will benefit the microorganisms of the soil. You do not have to agree yet you will know what I mean.
Proper mulching can be very beneficial for the soil as well as your trees. I. e., if the correct material is applied in the correct way. First, do not use fresh chips. The parenchyma cells of the symplast contain protoplasm. When we chip a branch with symplast the protoplasm gets smeared all over the place. This can attract undesirables that can do and do do nasty things to trees above as well as below ground. Of course if the branch chipped is symplastless the chips can be used immediately. Composting fresh chips in a pile for one year should be enough to safely apply them as mulch. Composted wood chips make great mulch for trees and their associates with many benefits.
Now here is where many people make the big mistake - application. Keep the mulch back from the trunk flair at the base, at least 6 inches. Mulch should not touch the trunk! The mulch should be 3 - 4 inches thick and flat. Due to the fact, that turf roots grow deeper than the non-woody absorbing roots of the tree, we suggest not to dig out the turf. The turf could be cut low and then the mulch placed on top. DO NOT INJURE THE TREE WITH A STRING TRIMMER!
The outer bark of trees is primarily made up of suberin. Which is long chains of fatty acids. There is carbon but the chains of carbon and hydrogen in suberin are so varied that few enzymes from microorganisms are able to cleave it for an energy source. For this reason we suggest not using all bark for mulch. Composted wood and leaves has the carbon required by beneficial microorganisms.
Also, the more composted the wood chips, the more you reduce your chances of artillery fungus on your house.
Mulch applications should be maintained on a yearly basis. For more on info look up "Mulch" or "Symplast" at www.treedictionary.com.
I hope this helps the trees. I hope you get help from this Regards.
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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[Academic ramblings snipped]>

Let me keep it simple:
-- Electric companies and tree service professionals can be a good, regular source of free wood chips
-- These chips -- mostly brown material, little green, can be used for mulch in gardens and around trees without composting -- they will gradually decompose and become a soil amendment.
-- The wood chips will conserve moisture, prevent weed growth and amend the soil as they decompose.
-- To be effective, three inches or more of mulch are needed; The upper limit is probably determined by the gardener's time and workload, but over time, 8-12 inches of mulch provide real benefits to the garden.
-- Keep a gap between the mulch and the trunks of trees. My trees get a 4" gap, but the azaleas, bamboo, bulbs, etc. get the full mulch treatment.
-- I get a large dump truck load of wood chips a couple of times a year from a local tree service, so I'm at about 6 inches of mulch in most of the garden after 9 years of doing this.
Mr. Gene Joyner is one of South Florida's best-known plant experts. "Ask Gene Joyner" was the solution to almost any plant question from homeowners, reporters or commercial growers --Here's a quote from the Palm Beach Post:
" "Mulch" was a frequent answer, at a time when few homeowners had heard of the practice to retain moisture and improve soil. Better soil, as Joyner would say, means better plants. "He had a big impact on homeowners because of his example of heavy mulching at Unbelievable Acres," said Chris Wenzel, a mango grower from Delray Beach. Joyner estimates he has spread "tens of thousands of yards" of mulch on his own garden, which is why the winding paths are springy with compacted wood chips. As a result, he irrigates once a week, never sprays for bugs and has no weeds." -- Gene Joyner's "Unbelievable Acres" in West Palm has about 12" of mulch throughout, without any of the dire consequences presented by JAK When academic concepts don't match real world results, it's not the real world that's going to change -- Beware of so-called tree experts who are book-reference smart and real-world experience poor.
Side note: Our trees lose their leaves in the Spring, and we plant vegetables in the Fall -- and I add mulch to the garden with every change of the season.
I hope you get some help from this, J.A.K.
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