Drought might be a landscape’s biggest enemy, but sometimes too much
rain can bring problems of its own, as this reader found.
QUESTION: “Following some recent heavy rain, I noticed a LOT of tiny
bright green weeds suddenly sprouting up through the mulched beds in
front of our house. I mean there are hundreds of them.
“My question is this: Is it safe to get rid of them by spraying them
with Round Up? The beds contain several established evergreen shrubs,
no small plants or flowers. The prospect of trying pull up each and
every one of the little pests is almost too much to imagine, so I'm
hoping I can get rid of them some other way, but of course I don't
want to risk damaging the shrubs. What do you suggest?” – Mike H
ANSWER: Cheryl saw your question and said, “Put some white vinegar in
a spray bottle and have at it. The vinegar in cooperation with the
summer sun will kill off weeds. It may take a couple of good sprays,
but you have to be stronger than the weeds. You can do it!”
Good advice, to which I would add this. Stir up the mulch every so
often to disturb the roots of the little weeds. Do this in the hot
part of the day so the ones on top do not have a chance to re-root.
Round Up is good if the weeds are a certain height but not before
that. A benefit of Cheryl’s solution is that it’s all natural. Use
ordinary white vinegar, full strength. However, you still have to take
the same care as if you were spraying Round Up and be careful not to
spray the vinegar onto your non-weed plants.
A few days later, I received this e-mail from Mike: “Steve, I’d read
one of your Plant Man columns that included a question from someone
looking for highly concentrated vinegar to use as a weed killer.
Because of that, I didn’t expect much from the ordinary vinegar I
bought at the supermarket, but decided to give it a try. I put the
vinegar in a plastic spray bottle and carefully sprayed the baby
weeds. For good measure, I also sprayed some weeds coming up between
the cobblestones in the front walk.
“When I looked the next day, the weeds I had sprayed had all shriveled
up! As you suggest, I will stir up the mulch a bit and keep the
vinegar spray handy for the next time the weeds emerge.”
QUESTION: “I have a Kwanzan cherry tree about 5 feet tall. It was
doing GREAT… then a deer ate the leaves and as it pulled away it
snapped the trunk (below the branch development). It was still hanging
on so I taped it back up hoping it would heal. What should I do?” –
ANSWER: There’s really not a lot that can be done over and above what
you have done already. Frankly, the chances are it will not come back
from the trauma caused by the deer.
However, one thing you can try is to angle-cut the tree at the base
about 3 inches from the soil. It will sucker out stems if the tree is
still viable. When most of the stems reach about 6 to 12 inches, cut
off all except the best. You may have to stake it but probably not.
If your tree has a good root system, the roots will cause the “new”
tree to grow to maybe where you were before the deer damage. Good
You might also want to invest in a product called Liquid Fence Deer &
Rabbit Repellent. You can buy it as a 40 ounce concentrate or as a
Pump & Spray combo pack that includes a 48 ounce pressure sprayer and
6 ounces of Liquid Fence, enough to make three quarts of repellent
shat should be enough to treat 1,500 square feet. If you need some
shopping information, drop me an e-mail.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org