Tips for Weeds, Lawns and Landscaping

The links below will take you to an NCAP factsheet (PDF) or a page with additional information about that topic. NCAP grants permission to print out and photocopy these articles. You may distribute as many printed/photocopied copies as you want, but they must be free to recipients.

BINDWEED (factsheet)

Keeping bindweed out of your fields or garden is the best way to prevent problems with this weed. When dealing with field bindweed, the farmer, land manager, or home owner must recognize that there are no 'quick-fix' solutions to eliminate it. All techniques require persistence and patience. Black plastic or landscape fabric weed barriers covered with an organic mulch deprive bindweed of sunlight and have been used successfully to manage this pest, along with flame weeding, which serves the same purpose as hand-pulling or clipping.

BLACKBERRIES (factsheet)

One technique for removing unwanted berries is mowing or cutting; cut back the vines to ground level. Covering the soil after cutting or mowing can be an appropriate way to kill roots and crowns. Digging out blackberry root crowns and major side roots is another effective removal technique. Another, maybe not as practical removal technique, involves the use of goats. Goats eat blackberries readily, and seem to prefer them over other plants.

COMPOST TEA (web)

Compost tea uses a pump to inject air through a solution of compost and water to encourage a special mix of aerobic microscopic organisms to grow. These soil microbes are very beneficial in a number of ways.

CORN GLUTEN MEAL (factsheet)

Corn gluten meal is a by-product of processing corn to make corn starch and corn syrup. It is generally sold as a golden yellow meal or as light brown granules. In addition to its use as an herbicide, it is used as food for cows, cats, dogs, fish, and poultry. Corn gluten meal is about 10 percent nitrogen so it’s a good natural fertilizer. 

DANDELIONS (factsheet)

By maintaining a healthy lawn, you will eliminate the need for other time consuming controls. If necessary, there are many nonchemical tools available to kill dandelions or remove them from your lawn. Mow frequently and leave the grass clippings on the grass as fertilizer. Set your mower to cut at a height of 2 to 2 1/2 inches, and avoid over watering. Pulling or digging out dandelions is easiest and most effective when the soil is wet. Remember that dandelions can be beneficial. Be willing to put up with a few dandelions in your yard. If you need to control dandelions, focus on creating a strong, healthy lawn. 

FLAMEWEEDING (factsheet)

Since the beginning of civilization, fire has been a tool for managing vegetative growth in the landscape. One source lists eleven major uses of fire by Native Americans: for hunting, crop management, improving growth and yields, fireproofing, insect collection for consumption, pest management, warfare, “economic extortion,” clearing areas for travel, felling trees, and clearing riparian areas. However, it took quite some time to figure out how to control fire for modern agricultural and home garden usage. Download the Factsheet

GOATS (FOR WEED CONTROL) (web)

Instead of herbicides, some people turn to goats to clear their properties of invasive weeds. Goats can knock down weeds in hard-to-reach places such as steep slopes or heavily overgrown areas where using machinery would be difficult or too damaging.

HOUSEPLANTS (web)

Houseplants bring nature, color, and beauty inside our homes. They're a popular way to make our indoor life more pleasant; about 75 percent of American families have plants in their homes. Occasionally these plants have problems with pests, but it's not necessary to use pesticides when this happens.

INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (factsheet)

One of the goals of pesticide reform is to reduce and eliminate pesticide use. There are a lot of different ideas on how best to accomplish this. Many activists have supported an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) framework that gives multiple opportunities to find ways to reduce pesticide use. 

KNAPWEED (factsheet)

An imported pest from Europe, diffuse knapweed has thrived in the disturbed and dry areas that predominate at the lower elevations of the Wenatchee National Forest. It spreads rapidly because it produces a huge number of seeds and because it releases a chemical that retards the growth of other plants. There are pesticide-free ways to prevent and remove it, however. Using a strategy called “stronghold”, people can focus on gaining control of the weed in specific areas and then connecting those areas.

LACEWINGS (factsheet)

True to their name, lacewings have two pairs of wings “laced” with intricate veins. Though they look fragile and gentle, lacewings are avid predators. Known in their larval stage as “aphid lions,” lacewings prey on many unwanted common yard and garden insects. This article focuses on the green lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea. 

LAWNS (factsheet)

Lots of pesticides are used on lawns. Many people are familiar with 2,4-D, an herbicide that’s often found in “weed and feed” products and is the most commonly used lawn care pesticide. According to the U.S. Envi-
ronmental Protection Agency, about 9 million pounds of 2,4-D are used on U.S. lawns every year—that’s more 2,4-D than is used on all 50 million acres of wheat grown in this country! 

MOSS IN LAWNS (factsheet)

Moss develops in unhealthy lawns. To promote healthy soil and lawns, try these helpful tips. Lime, prune, and aerate your lawn, install a draining system, use a thatching rake to remove dead grass, and water deeply but infrequently. Download the Factsheet

MOSS ON ROOFS (factsheet)

Mosses often grow on surfaces, like bark and rock, that plants with roots cannot penetrate. This allows them to avoid competition with rooted plants. Mosses are an important part of ecosystems as diverse as hot springs, tropical forests, and salt marshes. Download the Factsheet

NATURAL LANDSCAPING (factsheet)

To a child a dandelion may be a cheery flower, but to his parents a dandelion may be a bane in the backyard. What makes a wildflower a weed is the damage it causes to more desirable plant species. This can be perceived aesthetic damage or damage due to increased competition for water and nutrients. Many gardeners use herbicides to get rid of these weeds. However, it is possible to manage weed problems without causing more damage to the environment by using herbicides.

NOXIOUS WEEDS (factsheet)

Noxious weeds are non-native plants, mostly weeds of rangeland or pasture, that are classified under federal and state law as having negative impacts on agriculture. In many states, counties, and cities, control of noxious weeds is mandated by law. 

POISON OAK & POISON IVY (factsheet)

Poison oak and poison ivy provide nourishment to animals and stabilizes soil, but they also pose a serious threat. To remove the plants try digging up the roots in the late fall or cover the plants for several months. This will take away the sunlight and therefore starve the plants. 

POWDERY MILDEW (web)

Powdery mildew is a fungus disease of many plants. It is easily recognized by its white powdery growth on both sides of leaves, and sometimes on blossoms, fruit and stems. The first sign of infection is often white circular spots on leaves. Later the leaves often curl, and take on a distorted shape, turn yellow or brown, and may fall from the plant prematurely. This may cause the plant to weaken, and, in some cases, die.

RADIANT HEAT WEEDERS (factsheet)

An uncommon, but promising, solution to managing unwanted plants is technology that has been used in
Europe for about a decade—the radiant heat or infrared weeder. With a metal body tapering off to a weed-
lethal head capable of reaching temperatures of 1800 degrees, the most common form of this garden tool looks like a cross between something out of the most recent George Lucas film and a conventional flame-weeder.

RESTORING LAWNS (factsheet)

Have you ever stood behind your lawn mower or in the lawn care aisle of your local home-improvement center in dismay? Have you ever wished that you and your neighbors could take care of your lawns in an ecologically sound way? Download the Factsheet

ROADSIDE SPRAY ALTERNATIVES (factsheet)

We should all be concerned with the amount of herbicides used for roadside vegetation management. With patience, nonchemical methods can be as, if not more, effective than herbicide use. Alternative controls like mowing and mulching have been used effectively by a number of countries and jurisdictions in the Northwest. Along with the use of barriers and hydroseeders.

ROSE DISEASES (factsheet) / ROSE DISEASES (web)

Roses, the most popular perennial flower in the U.S., entice and attract many of us with their elegant,
fragrant flowers. They grow well in the Pacific Northwest; spring rainfall, sunny summers, and moderate win-
ters all help roses thrive. These same conditions, however, encourage some common diseases and roses are often considered troublesome plants that need the help of fungicides to grow well. Fortunately, by following some simple rules for planting and taking care of roses you can enjoy beautiful blooms without using pesticides. 

SHRUBS & FLOWERBEDS (factsheet)

Designing your yard so that it doesn't encourage weeds can save you countless hours of weeding. If you have an area in your yard that seems prone to weed problems, think about redesigning and replanting it to help reduce weeds. Plant well-adapted varieties; their vigorous growth means weeds affect them less. Use headers -- wood, metal, or concrete dividers that are buried at least eight inches deep and stick up a couple of inches above the soil. Headers are useful for separating lawn areas from shrub beds, so that the grass doesn't invade. Low headers act as mow strips, allowing your mower to cut all the way to the edge of the lawn. Download the Factsheet

SITE PREPARATION (factsheet)

Whether you are creating an entire landscape design from “the ground up” or altering an existing site, planning is crucial. First determine the size of the site that needs to be prepared and which techniques you will use. When working with an established landscape, it may be best to start in a small area and then ex-pand. Site preparation has to be done before any planting. Remember, no site preparation technique, including herbicide applications, will completely eliminate weeds. Plan a landscape that will establish easily on your site, grow vigorously, and outcompete unwanted plants. Download the Factsheet

TREE WELLS (web)

Some people like the aesthetic of tree wells in their landscaping. The tidy circle around the tree provides a nice contrast to the surrounding grass and protects exposed trees roots from damage from lawnmower blades. Here are some insights and successful weed control strategies gleaned from parks maintenance staff in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. Download the Factsheet

VINEGAR HERBICIDES (web)

In the last few years, some new herbicides have reached the market that contain vinegar, lemon juice and other plant-based ingredients. Some of these products contain both natural and synthetic components, while others contain all natural ingredients. These products can be used along fencelines, on driveways, in flowerbeds, and elsewhere, but only some may be used around fruit and vegetable plantings.

WEEDS: BANDAIDS ARE NOT ENOUGH (article)

General information about managing weeds in your lawn. Herbicides kill weeds, but they don’t solve weed problems. In order to solve a weed problem, it’s necessary to change the conditions that are allowing weeds to thrive. Making these changes prevents weed problems, and provides a long-term solution.

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