In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2006
Regional Report

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On a steep slope, it's a challenge to compete with Mother Nature's ground covers.

Weeds!

Impressive, aren't they? With all the rain we've had this past winter, it's a wonder that the entire bay area isn't smothered in weeds. The fact that we aren't is a testament to local gardeners who have kept up with their weekly chores in spite of the weather.
Weeds keep nurseries in business. They keep gardeners busy, and "mow and blow" outfits in the "green," if you will excuse the pun.

So, what's the answer, you ask? There are several options: one, leave things just as they are -- au naturel. The problem with this solution is that once the rain stops, the weeds dry out and become a fire hazard. Plus, they tend to trap wind-borne trash.

The second option is to cut everything down with a Weed Eater and leave it where it lays. I like this option because the layer of mown grasses will eventually break down and enrich the existing soil, just in case this homeowner should ever decide to plant a garden. It will also make fabulous fodder for earthworms, who feed on the surface at night. Earthworms need to eat, too, and are very good for the soil. The main problem with this is that the existing weeds have already gone to seed, so you are guaranteed a new crop the following year.

My solution would be to cover the cut weeds with some sort of biodegradable blanket, such as newspaper, or landscape fabric, then top it with a layer of decorative mulch. This will not only solve the prevalent problem of fire hazard, but will also make the area look much more tidy, and prevent the weeds from growing again next year.

You may have noticed that none of my solutions involve spraying herbicide. It's far too late in the season to spray. These weeds have already dropped their seed for next year. Killing the green growth will only result in a patch of dead weeds, which will still be a fire hazard unless they are cut down and hauled away. Besides, the birds are probably busy collecting the ripe seed and insects hiding within the tall grass to feed to their babies.


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