How to get rid of Virginia Water leaf and other plants

Asked March 14, 2017, 12:11 PM EDT

Good morning, My name is Liliana and I have an unkempt part of my garden that I would like to make beautiful. The space is on the right side of my house (my house faces north) and what currently grows in this spot is Virginia Waterleaf. The space also has a birch tree and a couple of unkempt lilacs. What is the best way to get rid of the vegetation and what are the steps to prep a new garden? I would rather not use chemicals because I have a 1 year old son. If I do the tarp method, do I need to leave it on the ground for entire growing season? Is there a way that I can get rid of the vegetation, prep the soil and plant a new garden all in this coming this year? Thanks for your help, I look forward to reading your advice. Liliana Maresh.

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

There are lots of ways to control weeds without chemicals.

Hand pulling tops the list, but many weeds have rhizomatous roots that can break off and start new plants, so you may have to do extensive excavation to find them - and keep at it over time.
Some weeds are easily eliminated by hoeing. Their seeds may persist in the soil for years though, so be alert to these new seedlings and pull them out when they are young.
Mulch is a great way to smother weeds, and it also conserves moisture in the soil, reducing the need to water so frequently.

Finally, covering this whole area with black plastic and covering that with a layer of mulch (which can be reused later after the weeds are gone) is possibly the most effective method. This is called "solarization". This barrier needs to stay on the soil for a few months - possibly the whole growing season - to be most effective. Here is a fact sheet from one of our universities. They are in California, and have hotter weather so keep that in mind. This method works well here too, but it takes longer because our soils are cooler:
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74145.html
and one from Oregon:
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/harness-sun-kill-weeds-plant-diseases-and-pests