Q. I spent Labor Day weekend weeding my small yard. I have several “beds” that are covered with red lava rock as I no longer have the energy or time to garden those areas. When they are weed-free they look quite nice, I must admit. But getting down to do the weeding is a chore that I don’t enjoy. My question is how can I prevent the weeds from getting a foothold in the first place without spraying harsh chemicals? W.W., Albuquerque
Here’s how it works: Spread the product according to manufacturing application ratio and then water the area. As the product dissolves, it does one of two things. First, it encapsulates any seed it comes into contact with, keeping that seed from being able to germinate. Or second, the product dilutes, creating a “crust,” that again keeps any seed from being able to complete a germination process. That’s why I suggest you don’t trample any area treated with a pre-emergent, because you’ll either make space for a new seed to blow in and grab hold or the “crust” gets broken and the seeds below find a way to grow. Treated with a natural pre-emergent that is made of corn meal gluten is a very effective way to prevent a whole host of weeds growing in areas where they are not wanted. The nifty thing about this type of treatment is you’re not “poisoning” the soil, so if you change your mind and want to plant, let’s say a stand of iris, you still can. Most pre-emergents can be used effectively in and around perennial and annual garden beds without a worry for the health of your treasures. As long as the plant life you are applying the pre-emergent around has a root already growing below ground, this type of weed hunting won’t affect them in the least. Just know that you will be prevented from planting anything from seed in those treated spaces for weeks to months afterwards. Since you are wanting to prevent weed growth in a rocked area, I believe applying a corn meal gluten-based pre-emergent is just the thing to assist you. Since you “labored” so diligently over the holiday to get the spaces weed-free, now would be the best time to treat
Meanwhile, Happy Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to email@example.com.