There is a growing, sometimes contentious movement afoot: traditional lawns vs natural landscaping. Two years ago, we came up against Ohio’s laws regarding lawns and weeds and were heartbroken to have to mow our luscious long grasses. Last year, we enjoyed a reprieve and the serenity of our natural garden. This year, the grasses back!
Selective weeding can result in finding delightfully surprising volunteers in your garden. I’m sure most of you have heard some version of the old adage, “A weed is simply any plant growing in an unwanted place.” When combined with “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” you can sometimes have eye-opening conversations (especially with neighbors).
In spring, we plant several crops into hay mulch to help control weeds, including reducing the "weed seed bank". Few weeds other than perennial grasses will come up through a 4-inch layer of hay. Mulches of natural materials keep the soil damper, which can mean higher yields and less need to water. This method is quick and easy, and more effective than mulching around the plants after transplanting.
Garlic mustard is the poster child of invasive species. Brought as a food crop for home gardens by settlers, this is a great wild food to pick with wild abandon. Eat it and ferment it while helping out local ecosystems.
Unlike many wild foods that take a long search, dandelions are found in almost every wood and meadow. And while many wild plants require special training to identify and discriminate from similar-looking poisonous plants, dandelions can be readily identified by every schoolchild.
Pick the right dandelion weeder, and ridding your lawn and garden of dandelions becomes more game than chore. Here we hightlight three popular models: the Oswego Grandpa’s Weeder, the Fiskars Triple Claw Weeder and the Garden Weasel Weedpopper Step and Twist.
Learn how to kill nutsedge, both yellow (Cyperus esculentus) and purple (Cyperus rotundus), and remove it from your garden. Pine bark mulch may be one effective way to kill nutlets from yellow nutsedge.