Monthly Archives: May 2015

Whip Out the Chemicals: It’s Time to Wage War on Weeds

There's no denying that this aspen sucker is beautiful.  But when suckers pop up willy-nilly throughout the yard, they become a nuisance.

There’s no denying that this aspen sucker is beautiful. But when suckers pop up willy-nilly throughout the yard, they become a nuisance.

Are you one of those people whose herbicides languish on a shelf because you have a weed-free yard? I didn’t think so.

Although you may dislike the thought of using chemicals to kill weeds, you’re likely to encounter situations where there’s no other way to get weeds under control. I didn’t say eliminate weeds completely. . .I said get them under control, because that’s about the best we can hope for.

After closing on my latest home in Fort Collins earlier this month, I drove straight to the new property, hopped out of the car, and began pulling the heads off of dandelions and other weeds. Yes, I know it sounds obsessive; guilty, as charged. But the first step to controlling weeds is to make sure you don’t let existing weeds go to seed and spread their bounty all over.

Then after doing a few other things, such as moving in, I walked the property to assess the damage. I spotted bindweed, Canada thistle, aspen suckers, you name it. Although I pulled quite a few intruders, I realized that simple pulling wasn’t going to make a dent in this mess.

So I’m resorting to chemicals. I want to use them judiciously, though. Some chemicals kill some weeds, and other chemicals kill other weeds. So I have to check the weed list on the herbicide label, and match the herbicide to the weed.

Incidentally, I spot-treat the weeds instead of broadcasting weed spray all over the yard.

These wild violets don't look so perky after being sprayed with herbicide.  It may take more than one application, though, to kill these weeds.

These wild violets don’t look so perky after being sprayed with herbicide. It may take more than one application, though, to kill these weeds.

For more common weeds, I’m using Spectracide Weed Stop. Weed Stop contains quinclorac, which is the most effective chemical control I’ve used so far for bindweed. Without harming my Kentucky bluegrass, this herbicide kills many common weeds, such as dandelions, wild violets, Canada thistle, clover, purslane, yada yada and more yada.

Then there are the aspen suckers. I haven’t tackled them yet. But I’ve been researching them online. One of the most effective controls, according to my research, is Garlon 4. But it comes in a 2.5 gallon container that costs $250. So I’m looking at another option, Tordon, that costs about $22 a quart, although you’ll find it at lower prices with a lot of shipping charges tacked on. I’ll try cutting the suckers and then painting Tordon on the freshly cut areas. I’ll let you know how it works.

Finally, there are the grassy weeds to consider. For them, I’ll use glyphosate, my very last resort, because it reportedly kills everything (except bindweed and aspen suckers). I could give you a brand name, but I have such strong objections to the corporate policies of the company that produces it, that I’m not going to give the product name here.

I’m not happy about using any of these chemicals. But my weeds need to understand who’s the alpha dog here.

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