Environmentally safe herbicide?

Asked April 30, 2020, 6:15 PM EDT

Hello, After laying fallow for a year, our garden plot is overtaken by tough weeds, like crabgrass. is there something I can put down or spray which will kill what is growing in the plot now, but will break down or biodegrade quickly and safely? I hate using chemicals, but that crabgrass just seems to go though it! Any recommendation would be greatly appreciated and quickly implemented! I apologize if you have already answered this question 1000 times. Thank you, Wade

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Hi- if you decide to use glyphosate, carefully read the label instructions. Herbicides containing glyphosate can differ quite a bit. In most cases, where glyphosate is the only active ingredient, the label will say that tomato transplants can be planted three days after application.

There are no organic herbicides that will effectively control bermudagrass, either as a pre-emergent or a post-emergent. Flame weeding can be effective on annuals but may not kill perennial weeds, such as mugwort and nutsedge.

A good strategy is to cut all vegetation to ground level and cover with heavy-duty weed barrier material. Example: DeWitt's "Sunbelt." Pin it or weigh it down. You can remove it after it's completely smothered the vegetation or leave it in place and cut holes through it for your plants. It does inhibit the exchange of gases between the soil and atmosphere, but this will probably not affect plant growth much.

If you remove it, be prepared to mulch heavily around plants to reduce weed seed germination and growth. Using a sharp how to slice off young weeds as they emerge is another good technique that avoids disturbing soil and bringing up new weed seeds to the surface.