Weeding goes Green!

By Alexandra Nathan

Think all weeds are an eyesore, taking up your never-enough weekend hours? Actually, there may be some tasty finds masquerading as weeds in that yard. For instance you might find a crop of the otherwise-expensive purslane, a succulent, peppery growth showing up at high-end eateries these days. Purslane's in-demand because it contains alpha-linolenic acid, the same Omega-3 found in fish oil.

But even if purslane pancakes or dandelion salad will never be your thing, there are many reasons to be sure the way you weed is environmentally friendly (even if you don't plan to snack on what's growing in your lawn!). It takes a bit more elbow grease to apply organic methods of weeding, but it’s a path that assures that your yard stays safe for kids and pets, and can actually save you some money as well.

Good old uprooting by hand is a free and readily had solution, though this method’s effectiveness largely depends on the amount of acreage you have to uncover, since it can be backbreaking work and extremely time-consuming. For most people it is really only a good option for maintenance once the heavy-lifting phase is finished. Laying on a layer of landscape fabric followed by mulch is a less laborious way to go. But it does have its detractors who claim not enough air and nutrients get to the soil. Mulch, used properly so that it doesn’t invite diseases because you’ve left it on too long, is another green option, but beware: mulch does have the possibility of carrying in weed seeds.

But if you really want to start fresh, or are faced with a weed kingdom that leaves you no other option, soil solarization is the organic option for you. It's a process that literally burns the future weeds and their seeds. While it's a green solution because it doesn't require your using harsh chemicals it is extremely effective. First till the soil, then cover your yard or garden plot with a layer of plastic 1 to 6 mm thick. You can pick this "plastic wrap" up at your local garden or home improvement store. Leave the cover you've created on for 4-6 weeks, preferably during warm weather when the sun is strongest. It takes some time, but soil solarization will literally wipe your lawn's slate clean, allowing you to start from scratch and create a green, weed-free lawn by summer's end.

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