with Clive Sullivan of Cameron Landscapes and Ballylesson
WEEDS are both a menace and a success; being native plants
well suited to the Irish climate and hardy! After all a
Dandelion flower can look pretty, not to mention that you
can make tea out of it. What about the Dock weed - great for
neutralising nettle rash, oh and you can make tea out of it.
That takes the sting out of it, doesn't it?
Nobody really minds the odd Dandelion if we're being honest,
but what really frustrates us gardeners are monsters such as
Horsetail, Japanese Knotweed and Bindweed. For these
toughies, you will have to use a systemic Glyphosate based
chemical, and apply it by watering or spraying over the
Within 3 weeks the weeds should be history, but for the
aforementioned you'll have to spray more than once after
first bruising the foliage Glphosate deactivates on contact
with the soil and only works on green tissue. Dead weeds can
be composted as normal quite safely.
That's the easy way with chemicals, but is there really a
viable organic alternative? The answer is no, it's hard
work. But you can mulch with Bark, or you could use a weed
control fabric which lets water in but stops perennial weeds
out. Even better, you could use plants which are so invasive
they stop everything else getting through. Is that more
weeds I hear you cry? Nope, ground cover plants like
Perwinkle (Vinca), or little Hebe pinguifolia pagei, or
maybe the Alpine Sedum. Get 'em in and they'll soon be
galloping across your borders' no weeds will stand a chance.
The old fashioned back-breaking method of weed control,
hoeing, although good for soil aeration (and cardiovascular
exercise) brings millions of weed seeds to the surface.
Don't forget the old adage, one year's seeding means seven
years weeding! You can almost hear the weeds saying "heads
you win, tails I'll be back" as you plough through the top
soil layer. Realistically I'd say weed control fabric is
your best bet, combined with the occasional touch of the
systemic weedkiller Glyphosate. You can elect to utilise
gravel (great if you have an Alpine border) or posh
decorative aggregates, maybe even slate over heavy duty
fabric (for the best effect). You could just use black
polythene too but this is not the best as it doesn't let the
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