What's the Best Way to Clear a Weed-Infested Flowerbed?

What is the best way to clear a weed- and grass-infested established flowerbed with plants that you want to protect. How do you eliminate ryegrass from a bed?

No eager gardener wants to hear this piece of advice, but you must move those plants and kill the weeds and grass, once and for all. Western weeds are tough. When we moved to our current house -- before I knew that we had bindweed and bermuda grass in the backyard -- I raced out and planted a huge border garden. All of the plants in it eventually had to be moved to new locations (at least for the season) while I dug and poisoned my way through the former border. Many experts say don't dig because it can spread weed seeds; I find that at least cutting off the heads of the culprits with a hoe cuts off their food supply and weakens the weeds until they die. This process can take all season. 

Try putting layers of black plastic over the soil to cut off light, air, and water and smother the weeds. This process should take one growing season. Then clean all weed debris from the bed, and spray any remaining culprits with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. In fall, dig in compost and pray for spring. You might want to cover the bed until then, too, with a permeable landscape fabric, to keep topical weeds from spreading to the patch. To keep ryegrass from creeping back in, line your new bed with metal edging that goes down into the ground several inches.

1 Comment

  1. Can’t believe you are suggesting glyphosate! Roundup is a known carcinogen —definitely won’t be using that!

    1. Your statement is false. March 2015 the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic in humans" (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.[9][12][13] In November, 2015, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that "the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans," later clarifying that while carcinogenic glyphosate-containing formulations may exist, studies "that look solely at the active substance glyphosate do not show this effect."[14][15] The WHO and FAO Joint committee on pesticide residues issued a report in 2016 stating the use of glyphosate formulations does not necessarily constitute a health risk, and giving admissible daily maximum intake limits (one milligram/kg of body weight per day) for chronic toxicity.[16] The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) classified glyphosate as causing serious eye damage and toxic to aquatic life, but did not find evidence implicating it to be a carcinogen, a mutagen, toxic to reproduction, nor toxic to specific organs


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