Tossing trimmed East Mountain weeds key to stopping them

Tossing trimmed weeds key to stopping them

The PictureThis app identifies this East Mountains weed as a summer cypress. (Courtesy of K.L.)

Tracey FitzgibbonQ. I live in the East Mountains and every year it seems we get a bunch of new weeds. Starting last year we were overtaken by summer cypress, according to my PictureThis app. My research found that it is toxic to equines and we have two mini donkeys. Their pen is free of everything but yuccas, however they try to eat it through the fence. I keep it trimmed down, but this year I’ve lost the battle. It is everywhere and has taken over the front pasture that is fenced off from the donkeys. Aside from digging up our quarter acre, how can I get rid of it and plant a drought tolerant grass that will take over that area? – K.L., East Mountains

A. Goodness. Since you are sure that you’ve identified the culprit, during your research, did any sites you visited offer ways to eliminate this offender?

You say you keep it trimmed, but I wonder if you leave the cut plants on the ground? If you aren’t/haven’t collected the beheaded summer cypress as you kept it trimmed and it had gotten to the stage where it had seed, then you’ve done nothing but propagate it on your property. Not a good scenario in the least.

I’m going to suggest you use an tool called a hoe. Yes, I know hoeing a quarter acre looks and is daunting, but so be it. Sever the plant as close to ground level as possible. Then – most importantly – you need to collect the beheaded summer cypress and dispose of them. Do not compost them. Get them in the trash.

I certainly pray that you are not considering discing or tilling the quarter acre. You think you have a new bunch of weeds now, well if you till or disc your land, you will plant every weed seed that has managed to be blown or carried in.

As far as sowing a drought tolerant grass I suggest you channel Johnny Appleseed and broadcast your seed and hope. This time of year isn’t the best time since it’s going to do nothing but cool off and most prefer to germinate in the heat of the year.

High Country Gardens website offers a seed mix called “High Country Native Grass Seed Mix” that could be perfect for your goal of starting more grasses on you property.

Grasses like blue grama, perennial rye, buffalo and sheep fescue would go a long way to growing tufts of grass to help win the weed war. I know it’ll be a lot of work for you to get this most unwanted weed contained, but it sounds like to me you have no choice.

Dear readers: Egad, it’s September! It’s here and I’m thankful. A couple of seasonal reminders if I may.

As the daylight lessens, it’s time to really start sweeping up around the outside of the house. Bugs and spiders are going to soon, if not already, be searching out pleasant place to overwinter. The tidier you keep your space the less likely any pests are going to want to hang out.

Give door jams a spraying to keep any interlopers out. Then, if you are like me and you have a Christmas cactus that you want to be in bloom, well, September is the month when you start to trigger that event.

By midmonth get the cactus into a place where it’ll receive twelve hours of darkness each night. I have a mostly unused room where I draw the curtains every night, so it’s perfect for this chore.

If moving your plant is out of the question, then you can cover it, nightly, with a larger than the plant-sized cardboard box, remembering to uncover each morning. You don’t want to place the plant in, let’s say a closet.

Remember to back off of the usual amount, and how often, you water the plant. I’m not saying you go from treasured, tended plant to an ignored, unloved plant. Just back off the usual amount of water you give.

Then after 30 nights of “triggering” the plant, get it back into population and care for it as you usually do.

Properly triggered, the Christmas cactus should set bloom to enjoy for the coming holiday season.

I so look forward to this time of year and am really anticipating our first freeze. Death to the mosquitoes!

Happy Labor Day to you all while you’re out there 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


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