Gardening with Laurie: Wrangling weeds the natural way

By Laurie Garretson
July 25, 2013 at 2:25 a.m.

The wonderful rain showers we have been receiving this past week are such a blessing for all of us - gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

There is just nothing like rainwater to spark life and beauty back into all of nature. Lawns look better, and plants look greener and healthier. Plus the temperatures have been cooler, and that's a big plus during July.

Along with all the great things that rain can bring, there is one unwanted thing: weeds. It seems like overnight weeds have popped up everywhere.

At least pulling them up is easier in the wet soil; but even then, you can only pull so many weeds before you've had enough of that chore.

Hopefully, this is a good reminder for all of the benefits of mulching. Three to 4 inches of mulch will certainly retard the majority of weed growth in any area of the landscape. Weeds that do show up are much easier to pull out.

To get rid of weeds in larger areas, it would be faster to use something to spray on them. To kill weeds, you would use an herbicide. Herbicides are usually some kind of manmade chemical that is used to kill or inhibit the growth of an unwanted plant, most likely weeds.

So many of the largest selling herbicides have been linked to awful side effects. Many researchers tell us that herbicides, like Monsanto's Roundup, could be linked to cancers, infertility, Parkinson's disease, birth defects, neurological disorders and DNA damage, to name a few. Researchers have discovered the chemical in samples of the air, rain, urine, groundwater and women's blood.

I do not recommend using anything chemical to kill weeds or anything else in your landscape. There are safe products out there that can kill most any pesky weed without fear of it causing diseases or any other negative side effects to you.

One of the most often used organic herbicides would be vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid. Most of us have a bottle of common salad vinegar in our kitchens. This salad-type vinegar is probably three-to-five percent acidic.

The stronger the acetic acid level, the better the killing power. Pickling vinegars can be 11 percent while horticultural vinegars come in 20 and 21 percent strengths. To make the vinegar even more potent, you can add two ounces of orange oil, one tablespoon liquid molasses and one tablespoon liquid dish soap to the gallon of vinegar.

Do not add water and be sure to shake well before using. Be careful not to get this mixture on any desirable plants. It will burn or kill any plant it comes in contact with. It can be sprayed on tree trunks or woody stems without damage. Some types of plants might require more than one application.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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