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There are no weed-free landscapes, but luckily there are good alternatives to herbicides for some weeds. But we need a plan.
Consider, for instance, the wooded edge that has bittersweet vines, thorny brambles, and herbaceous weeds. Strategy? Mow or clip the area as low to the ground as possible during April and May. Cover the area with an eight-inch layer (or more) of raw wood chips, which fight weeds in two ways. First, raw wood chips effectively shade and smother weedy undergrowth for about two years. They also rob nitrogen from the upper inch of soil, denying a key nutrient to newly germinated weed seedlings. (What a shame!) (There’s one caution to keep in mind with this technique: Cardboard and chips should be kept at least six inches from the trunks of desirable trees and shrubs.)
Got Japanese knotweed? With patience and sharp clippers, it can be eradicated without herbicides. So can garlic mustard and Japanese stiltgrass.
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