Killing weeds in butterfly/pond area without insecticides

I live on 6 acres in Central Florida--weather almost always warm/windy. My butterfly garden has a waterfall, 2 ponds, and a creek. Soil is sandy; all types of weeds; I've laid landscape cloth that doesn't hold off as well. The grass around the pond and house--called Florida grass--ha--never planted there. Butterfly/pond area attracts many birds/butterflies all year long. I can't seem to keep up with the weeds just by pulling. HELP! I'd appreciate all your suggestions. Thank you. Phyllis
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Hi, Phyllis. I know you want to control the weeds and avoid using herbicides, but I think you've got no choice on a 6-acre plot like you describe. The good news is that herbicides should kill the weeds you target without harming the insects. I used to maintain a prairie that spanned several acres, and I learned that pulling weeds seemed to actually create a bigger weed problem in the long run than spraying did. When I pulled weeds, it stirred the ground's surface and dormant weed seeds would spring up in all of the open spots. I recommend spot-spraying with Roundup early in the season when the weeds are small so you can reduce the amount of spray you use. Later in the season, go back through, snipping the tall weeds with pruning shears and dabbing a concentrated form of Roundup (undiluted concentrate, not the ready-to-use kind) or brush killer onto the cut stubs. I often use a dabber bottle from an office supply store--the kind with the sponge--to apply herbicide like this. Sincerely, I struggle with using chemicals in the garden, too, but I've never found any other manageable solution for one person maintaining a large area.

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I have used a cultivator for a similar but smaller problem. It is a loop of blade on the end of a stick, called a "stirrup hoe" or "hula hoe." I had a bed prepared and waiting for some iris. Seems it would work in sandy soil even better; all it needs is quick easy scratching consistently scrape the area before weeds propagate. It has also worked on unwanted grasses. Would it be possible to over seed a thick grass or ground cover to smother weeds? Seems they are attracted to open ground.
Submitted by plumbago2007