Can one of you help me revive an herbicide ridden section of the lawn into a wildflower field/pollinator garden?
I am temporarily living with a family in suburbia, and they are encouraging me to grow more flowers in their small yard. I was just getting back from procuring a wonderful selection of perennial and annual pollinator flower seeds and compost, only to see that the perfect (and only sunny available spot) of the yard had had a recent massacre of weeds. Someone had come and put weed n feed for lawns about a week ago, I found out. But I was so excited to plant this pollinator garden!! Problem? Yes. Answer: Permactulture. I know there is a way (with out a ton amount of labor) to fix this, and for CHEAP or free. What are your methods and ideas?
I think just plant away while trying to build the soil biology back up. Because you are not planting food crops the risk of pesticide exposure is limited. And yes there may be exposure to the polinators but it seems to me that the damage is done and the exposure will be in the soil more than anything else. As long as there are no more chemical attacks on the area the soil biology should slowly degrade the various toxins and in the meantime you can provide some beauty and some food for our friends. Definitely working on the mycelial component, through additions of woody carbon and possible innoculation, is the fastest path as it seems our mycelial allies are the best at decomposing complex toxins.
Thank you Dustin Rhodes and J Davis for the advice. I think those are good ideas.
I wish it were that easy, but actually I think that would be a waste of good seed. All the sites I've read about the topic are saying that if "Weed n Feed"-type lawncare products touch the roots of flowers, there is a high probability of damage or death.
"'Weed and feed' is a combination of fertilizer and herbicide, the latter specifically designed to kill broad-leaved plants without harming turf grasses. Using it in your garden would be fine only if you only wanted monocots (grasses) to thrive, and wanted to suppress or kill all dicots (broad-leaved and woody plants)." <https://www.answers.com/Q/Can_you_use_weed_and_feed_in_your_flower_beds>.
Since I am only in the area temporarily, I will be looking for a different place entirely now to scatter my seeds this year while they are most viable. Specifically one with weeds currently growing on it, so I know it hasn't been treated with herbicide. People poisoning the soil is all too common over here in the suburbs of Houston!
The aminopyralid class of herbicides is very persistent even through the composting process, and even through the digestive system of ruminants. Most of the other herbicides largely break down within weeks or months, either in the presence of sunlight or with the biological processes in the soil. If you can find out what was used there, you could decide: if it's something that breaks down in a few months, then maybe it's worth applying compost and mulch and giving it a go with the wildflowers.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Depending on what the wildflower seeds you acquired you will probably won't want the grass there anyway. Most mixes sold here struggle to appear through established grass and do best in poorer soils, infact sometimes people use glyphosate to kill it before sowing their wildflowers!
I dont know how far 2, 4 D and etc penetrates into the soil but I would think cutting the sod out and piling to one side would work. But obviously you might want to research the plants in your mixes perhaps your wildflower mixes do prefer better soils than here.
The more finished compost you use, the faster the herbicide will break down. Compost has a great track record for cleaning up the soil. It will bring up worms and soil critters that will also help.
Water the area a lot to try to dilute what they put on the soil. Turn the soil over to expose it to the sun for at least a week. If it's heavy clay, and it dries out a lot by the end of the week, just re-wet, walk away for an hour or so, then break it up with a pitch fork or end of a shovel. Fill in over the top of clumps of soil with thick compost, after establishing paths.
Mounds of compost in large circles, or snaking beds, 4"-5" deep, can be planted in directly. Mulch over the top of that with leaves or mowed grass. The plants will get a good start. Maintain thick layers of compost and leaf/mowed grass mulch as it shrinks down.
Don't fall for the My-Place-Is-Special, It-Won't-Happen-Here Syndrome.
hau Marlo, Well, Dustin gave some good ideas but they are more than one year in duration for remediation of the poisons.
J Davis also gave one of the best long term solutions, but I'm betting you would like things to go a bit faster than a 4-5 year remediation period.
Instead of a deep layer of woodchips you could use a thin layer of fine wood chips and spray that with a mushroom slurry or use a fungal inoculant powder that you have dissolved into a liquid form.
For instant growing success the raised bed idea is great, just do the above before you build the raised beds so there are remediation materials at work under the soil in the raised beds.
For fungi look for oyster mushrooms, wine caps, or buy a mycorrhizal product which will not only start the remediation of that soil but it will also help your plants grow.
This is a situation where you can make multiple inoculations as the year goes by without any worries.
The addition of some spent coffee grounds is also a good thing, just mix it into the soil in the raised beds.
You want fungus not molds, molds in this case will create a cap that doesn't allow enough air exchange for the remediation of the poisons. (slime molds particularly)
Besides, weed and feed has antimold elements in most of the brands on the market.