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Weed control, management, ecology, and minutia
by trina delamare
on May 15, 2017 at 1:16 PM
I went from wood raised beds to a beautiful raised brick bed problem is i cant control the weeds. I used to keep some year round fruits and veggies in it but that made it difficult to use weed killer, plastic cover etc. So I removed them. 10 years of this huge brick bed. Last year I used black plastic end of summer thru spring and so far the ground looks clear but I know they will be back as soon as I plant and water. The buttercups are the worse you never get all the roots. Im about ready to go back to raise wood gardens. So frustrated.
by Brad Hanson
on May 15, 2017 at 2:27 PM
Hi Trina,  
I suspect your weed problems are not directly related to the brick vs wood planters - that's probably coincidental timing more than anything. If you are using the black plastic in an effort to heat the soil (eg solarization) you might want to read the UCIPM publication "Soil Solarization for Garden and Landscape ( - there is good information there about clear plastic vs black plastic as well as ways to maximize performance. There is also a UCIPM publication focused on Creeping Woodsorrel and Bermuda Buttercup that may help with your problem too (  
Good luck  
by Chris
on September 8, 2018 at 3:38 PM
Thanks for the information!
by Ellie Davis
on July 19, 2019 at 12:40 PM
I was not aware that adding a mulch material over planting beds could help you to get rid of the weed. My husband is looking for options to fight the weed infestation in our backyard. I will contact a landscaping contractor to help us with our weed problem.
by Michael Briansky
on December 16, 2019 at 5:37 AM
I used to think that I am not a gifted gardener since my vegetables were always being overshadowed by weeds. This post has helped me learn from the experiences of other gardeners and how they have best dealt with weeds in their gardens.
by Kate Welling
on December 26, 2019 at 3:25 PM
You said that we should spray our garden before we plant. I've always had trouble with weeds. It would be great to get a weed control service to help me with this.
by Nicole
on April 23, 2020 at 10:12 AM
Hi. I am a novice gardener and am about to plant my first veggie garden. It’s an in ground garden and I’ve had immense weed issues in my backyard. I laid and stapled cardboard all over the backyard followed by black plastic weed abatement mats and then a layer of mulch. It’s done an amazing job abating there weeds! However, the area I’ve designated for the veggie garden had the black mats for over a year but I’ve pulled everything back and am getting ready to plant my veggies. I have clay soil so I’ve been using a pitch fork to loosen the soil and have compost, food and soil for the plants. I’m confused as to if I should include the black mats/plastic in the planting process and if so, where they belong. For instance, now that I’ve loosened the clay soil should I add a layer of mulch, then a mixture of compost and soil and then the black mats? Then simply cut holes where the plants are going? Should I not use the plastic for the veggie garden? Should the plastic go on top on the clay and then add a layer of mulch followed by the compost/soil mixture? Thanks in advance!
by Terry Smith
on April 24, 2020 at 3:43 PM
My son-in-law sprinkled weed & feed granuals on the vegetable garden, but he didn’t water yet before we stoped him. Can plants be removed and soil removed and replanted with new soil and still be safe?
Reply by Brad Hanson
on April 24, 2020 at 7:02 PM
Hi Terry,  
Most of the weed&feed type products are actually foliar herbicides (2,4-D, dicamba, mecoprop, etc). The way they "mostly" work is you wet the leaves (lawn, generally) and then spread the granuals which stick to the wet leaves long enough for some herbicide to transfer into the plant. It will still happen to a degree on non-wetted leaves, especially if you are in a humid environment, though.  
So that has a good-news/bad-news aspect. Bad-news: there's a good chance foliar uptake has occurred and the damage may be in process. On the other hand, if the herbicide granules are on the soil and not on the leaves uptake of these herbicides from soil is relatively low. But, some more bad news: some veggie garden plants are pretty sensitive to growth regulator herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba (your tomatoes probably are the most sensitive.  
If you can still see the granule on the surface, you could try sweeping them off area (I'd dispose in the lawn, which is a typical application). Do this before you water. I'd try this before I replanted (you'll know within a week of watering if you're going to see serious injury).  
If you elect to replant, you wouldn't need to remove a lot of soil, maybe just the surface 1/4 inch or so if the herbicide has not been watered in. If you do that, I'd first transplant a few tomatoes as "bioassay" plants to see if their growth is malformed before replanting the rest.  
good luck!  
by Elizabeth
on June 1, 2020 at 2:53 PM
Hi, after we laid red plastic down, deer walked over them causing holes. Several weeks later we have lots of weeds sprouting out of the holes. This is our first season using plastic and would appreciate feedback on whether we should 1) do nothing and hand weed these sections 2) overlay more plastic or 3) tear up existing and replace with new.  
Pics of rows, (link removed by editor)
by Brad Hanson
on June 1, 2020 at 4:14 PM
Hi Elizabeth,  
If deer put holes in your solarization plastic, I'd suggest pulling the weeds you can and then sealing the holes with duct tape. However, the idea of solarization is to create a greenhouse effect where light penetrates and then heat is retained - red plastic is likely to be significantly less effective for this than clear plastic. But whether for heat retention or simply physically blocking weeds, taping the holes shut will be better than leaving them open.  
There's a nice (older) publication from UC on solarization if you search for UC publication 21377 ("Soil Solarization: a nonpesticidal method for control diseases, nematodes, and weeds") if you're interested.  
Good luck,  
by John Wraight
on June 4, 2020 at 6:26 AM
Good information
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