Both in client's landscapes, and at home, I've got the problem of complicated, established landscapes overrun with perennial weeds; bindweed, Canada thistle, quack grass, and the like. I'd rather not loose all my perennials. Even if I was willing to do so, retaining walls, shrubs, fences, and other features would make any kind of smothering attempt difficult to impossible.
Any ideas on approaching this from a permaculture perspective? I've been pulling them for several years, but each year they spread father.
In looking at methods of controlling bindweed, we need to step back just a bit to understand more of why this, or any other, weed establishes itself in the first place. Contrary to much of the commonly spread information today, weeds don’t just “happen”; they are in a certain place for a very specific reason – the conditions are “just right” for them to grow there.
Weeds are an indication of what is going on with the soil and its fertility, both right and wrong. They show the progression of the soil, whether the fertility and biological diversity and health are improving; or if it is in decline. Very much as a pond will go through several generations of different species of plants until it is filled in and becomes a meadow; or a grass pasture will gradually fill in with a progression of woody shrubs and eventually trees, weeds will have a progression of species that tell the story of improving or failing health of the soil where they grow.
I suspect that pulling bindweed actually helps it multiply. If you hear it "snap" under the soil, those white roots are left behind and it will start again. I lift from underneath with a shovel, then lift the clump carefully, not letting any pieces of white root stay in the the soil, and immediately put it into a garbage bag and escort it off the property.
But the easiest way is to deny a perennial greenery, and that's mow, mow, mow as low as you can go. I plant my perennials far enough apart so the mower can get in between them. Keeping the basket on collects the bad stuff, and dry it in the sun, get rid of it. In the spring sometimes I have to mow twice a week to keep the greenery about an inch. I have a really sharp shovel that I can shove into a weed and cut it off, so I make an 18" circle around perennials and mulch that heavily, going after any new weed shoots when small.
I have a rural place where there will always be weeds, the seeds blow for miles. I mow the paths and don't try to keep them weed free, just the areas around the plants.
That is a tough one. Here are all the things I have tried, but did not work. Let me know if you find something that works.
Mulched 5 inches deep
Mulched with cardboard Cover with plastic for 4 months
Used vinegar straight on the plant
dug out and removed the soil from the area.
digging fork- I worked on getting the whole root. This seems to work the best.
I am going to try a blow torch this year. Bindweed is by far the worst weed that I have dealt with.
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