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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 12:28 PM

Garden of Edith caution with weed control

Garden of Edith caution with weed control
By Edith Isidore-Mills  The weeds are really thriving this spring with all this wet weather.  Now the herbicides and weed whackers are going to have quite a job to do but be careful around your trees and shrubs.  These tools of weed control not only kill weeds they kill trees and shrubs.A number of years ago a friend asked me to check on a tree that was not doing well.  When I finally found the time to look at the tree, it was dead.  My first thought was borers but when I closely inspected the tree, I could not find the little holes that would confirm borers were responsible.  So I removed the vinyl wrap that had been placed around the trunk to protect it from our intense sunlight and drying winds.  The grass and weeds had been neatly whacked right up to the base of the trunk.  I could tell a weed whacker had been used right up to the base of the tree because the wrap was shredded near ground level.  Removing the wrap revealed a scared, girdled trunk. The weed whacker had girdled the tree and cut off water absorbed by the roots and likewise cut off carbohydrate to maintain and generate more root tissue.Weed whackers can be handy for cutting down vast areas of weeds in a short time or for trimming the edge of a lawn if no desirable plants are growing along the edge.  The disadvantage of a weed whacker is it’s very powerful and can cut through the bark of any young woody tree or shrub.  Unfortunately the vascular system which is the life support for any plant is just barely inside the thin bark of any young woody plant.When I lived in a mobile home, I found out how powerful a weed whacker can be while mowing down weeds next to my mobile home. The weed whacker put holes in the vinyl skirting.  With this type of power the spiral vinyl wrap sold in nurseries to protect tree trunks is no match for a weed whacker.These spiral wraps are only good for protecting the long branchless trunks of young woody nursery stock from our intense sun which can scald a trunk.  There really isn’t anything strong enough to put around the base of a tree to protect it from a weed whacker.  Anything a weed whacker can’t cut through will eventually have to be removed or it will also girdle the tree as it grows.  The best way to mow a lawn close to the base of the tree is to hand clip the grass near the base. Likewise, pull or hand-clip any weeds around the base of trees and shrubs.Don't expect herbicides to save you from doing the hand work around the base of trees and shrubs.  Any herbicide that kills broad-leafed weeds that is sprayed or incorporated into the soil within the drip line (i.e. canopy spread) of the tree or shrub will also damage or even kill that tree or shrub. Weed-n-Feed is not safe on lawns with woody plants growing in or near the lawn.As for weed whacking safety, always wear shoes, long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and goggles because small flecks of weeds fly everywhere when one is in operation.  If using herbicide, read the label carefully, follow instructions exactly, and wear protective clothing.  Consider refraining from using either method for controlling weeds around any trees or shrubs if you want those trees or shrubs to survive.     Sign up to receive updates and the Friday File email notices. Support local, independent news – contribute to The Fallon Post, your non-profit (501c3) online news source for all things Fallon.