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My method of weed control has been strictly mechanical: either dig them out or rely on what one old-timer told me about lawns and weeds: "Grass loves to be cut, weeds hate to be cut, so if you want a weed-free lawn, keep it cut short."
Well, very short grass heights work well in my neighborhood: they're consistent with the ages of these houses and the days of reel-mowers which operated entirely on muscle power.

Several factors this year have combined to create a scourge of purslane in garden beds, tree lawns, and lawn-lawns (front, back, side) and although normally I avoid weed killers, I thought that before the purslane takes over completely or even just gets much further ahead of my efforts to eradicate it, I'd give this one a try: one gallon of white vinegar (5% acidity, I suppose, since that's what's usually available), one [U.S. customary measuring] cup of salt, and one tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Has anyone else on this comm used this stuff, and if so, how effective is it? And how much of a problem for the environment is it?

As an aside, I find it hard to believe people actually pay money for these plants or for seeds to grow them.

(subject/question cross-posted to my LJ journal)


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2016 04:19 pm (UTC)
It is delicious, and it is THE most nutritious of the leafy greens, but for all its admirable qualities or traits, I still don't want in in the lawn, and I especially don't want it in the turf paths of my potager and above all else I want to keep it out of the BEDS of my potager.

The darling little bunnies munch the stems just about completely naked, which you'd think would be a good thing, yes?
But I've noticed [TMI ALERT For The Squeamish] that they seem to do a lot of "fertilizing" either while they're munching or wherever they find their lunch, or something, because where the "fertilizer" is, not long after you'll find new purslane plants.

One source says the absolutely ONLY way to be absolutely certain of getting rid of purslane is to pull it out----completely.

I won't mind (I think I won't) so much if I can't be rid of it entirely, but I'd like to get it more under control so it isn't--- So it doesn't make so much of an eyesore of the lawn.

Re: weedkiller, I imagine it would do a number on the grass, but between the crabgrass (which rabbits apparently won't bother to eat if they have a good supply of purslane and wood sorrel) and the summer heat and what for us is a drought, the grass has already taken quite a beating.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2016 05:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes: the bunnies are too cute! And one of them trusts me enough to allow me to walk within 2.5 feet of it, so I haven't been able to bring myself even to post sternly worded signs in the garden, cautioning them against eating and "fertilizing" in such a way as to pose a danger to the garden!
No, can't get rid of the bunnies.

Besides, they're a lot like the purslane: so proliferative I doubt I could get ahead of them, either.

Purslane does need full sun, so keeping sunlight from it might do the job, but it would knock out the lawn, too, so as you observe the turf would have to be replaced, and that means seeding (sod is not in the budget), and grass doesn't germinate anywhere nearly as quickly as the purslane.
Perhaps I'm stuck with the strategy of mechanical elimination of each little purslane plant (sort of kidding about those: some of them can not by any stretch of the imagination or desire to put a positive spin on things, be called 'little.')

I'm not familiar with this term: "sheet mulching." Mostly when it has come to the lawn, I've just mowed it and edged it along the pavement/s, and dug out the dandelions---until the purslane became an issue. What is sheet mulching, please?
Oct. 7th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
For me, sheet mulching is putting down a layer or two of cardboard then covering it up with mulch. Kills everything underneath and rots into a nice soil layer which is great when you want to turn lawn into garden. But as you said you want to keep lawn, that would mean you'd have to re-seed the whole thing and weeds are awfully opportunistic.
Oct. 7th, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC)
"...and weeds are awfully opportunistic."

They certainly are! This weed in particular germinates so, so fast compared to grass seed.

Well, as I've said (and will probably continue to say in my self-talk), most likely I'll be relying on mechanical removal of every little purslane plant I can get out of the ground.
Oct. 7th, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
While vinegar works on some weeds (it won't take out dandelions, because of the big root system; it just grows back) I'd be leery of salting the earth of my garden! That's the only environmental problem I see. That small amount of dishwashing liquid is negligible. And the only thing the vinegar will do to the environment is lower the soil ph temporarily.

I suspect this might work on purslane because it'll probably dehydrate it. But, as noted, it might also take out any grass that gets hit with it, so you'll have to be precise.
Oct. 7th, 2016 04:24 pm (UTC)

Purslane resists drought, so effectively so that unless any little piece of stem or leaf gets put onto pavement/asphalt/a sterile environment where it can't possibly take root before it turns completely dry and crispy, it will re-root itself.


It's like something out of a science fiction movie, from the standpoint of trying to get rid of it....
Oct. 7th, 2016 04:48 pm (UTC)
We have it here, but not in world conquering quantities. Lots of *other* weeds, though, that form just solid colonies and are faster than hell slowly taking over the lawn. We have hawkweed, tansy, knapweed.. all of which just laugh at weed killers, and have horrible root systems. Purslane pulls easy compared to them, at least what we have here does.
Oct. 7th, 2016 05:35 pm (UTC)
I'm getting the distinct feeling I'm going to be resorting to mechanical means to get the purslane out of the lawn/paths.

Well, if pulling is what must be done, then it will be done. I shall console myself that at least I'm not dealing with your hawkweed, tansy, knapweed.... ;^\
Oct. 8th, 2016 11:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not a huge fan of using commercial weedkillers either, but at this stage, personally, I'd be inclined to do a couple of feed-and-weed treatments on your lawn. That should get it back to the point where you just have to mechanically pull the odd plant rather than a lot. (Your grass will also be a lot healthier.)

Mowing your grass too short allows certain weeds to thrive, presumably because sunlight can get right down to the soil. I'm not familiar with purslane, but from a quick read up, it seems to need full sun, which makes me wonder if you are cutting your grass too short. As an experiment, maybe try raising the height of your mower blades a notch or two?
Oct. 9th, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestions, which are well taken. The lawn's due for a fertilizing not done by the resident bunnies, and that may or may not make a difference to the state of the purslane.

Here's the thing, though: I've been cutting this grass, this lawn, to the same height since I acquired my house ten years ago, and the purslane hasn't been an issue---not truly an issue although I can't say we've seen NO purslane at all---in all that time.
This year, however, we had a hotter than usual summer (for us: I'm not trying for prizes in any kind of brutal summer weather competition) and it's been exceptionally dry---again, for my region---since last autumn, actually: low on snow, short on rain, and then through the summer short on rain and high on heat (no shortage of humidity, though!)
The grass suffered.
Even the crabgrass seemed to go into a kind of stasis while the drought was ongoing.

And this year, several pairs of rabbits seem to have made their homes in my yard and/or my immediate neighbor's yard, and they and their offspring (and their in-laws and pals, for all I know) have been in abundant evidence, one of them even becoming trusting enough to camp out within three feet of me as long as I move very, very carefully.
They can be seen sitting in the same places, munching away. They "fertilize" in the same places.
And the purslane is coming up more and more prolifically in those places and immediately adjacent thereunto.

It's obvious when one views the purslane plants that the leaves are being stripped, and the stems left, and that there are many tiny-leaved new purslanes (but not seedlings: these are very small versions of the older, more fully developed plants with many main stems and plenty of leaves, only the leaves are very, very small) coming up around and between the stems of the older, more mature plants.

You may be right, but it's a sunny location to begin with and as noted above, I haven't had this kind of problem with purslane in all of ten years.
What I believe happened was that the grass withered, which exposed a lot more ground, and the weeds kind of just waited.
And because purslane (and crabgrass, too) germinates much sooner than lawn grass and grows faster, as soon as conditions improved even slightly the purslane just took off, the rabbits feasted, and the result of all this growing, feasting and resultant "fertilizing" is that the purslane is taking over one particular area of my back garden/potager.

We're almost at the end of the mowing season, here---if things go as they customarily do. They might not, since they haven't for the past, oh, nearly a twelvemonth.
Oct. 28th, 2016 03:29 am (UTC)
I kill weeds by pouring boiling water on them, rather than using chemicals. It's a particularly good method for shallow rooted plants. Also, I second the suggestion to grow your grass taller (3-4").
Oct. 28th, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure just how short all y'all think I've been keeping the lawn, but allow me to repeat:

I've been cutting the grass to the same height for the past ten summers, this one just past included, and haven't had this problem with any particular weed, except for the dandelions which I "inherited" when I bought the property (now under tight control and easily managed), until this year.
But this past summer was, for this region, unusually dry and unusually hot and the lawns suffered. Meanwhile, a number of rabbits were busily munching the purslane (which withstands drought and heat very, very well) and dispersing the seeds of the purslane on the dried, rather crunchy grass. One of the reasons re-seeding a lawn to overcome purslane doesn't work easily or well is that purslane needs only a few days to germinate, as opposed to the fourteen day germination period of most turf grasses, and it grows and establishes itself a lot faster than turf grasses.
Simply, it took over.

I still favor mechanical management of weeds of any or every description, with the exception of poison ivy even though to truly eradicate that stuff you do need to dig out the entire plant right down to the end of its root system; poison ivy, I manage with an herbicide because I nearly landed in the hospital after my last contact with that noxious weed.

My particular suburb classifies itself as an historic community and we're supposed to maintain the historic appearance of our homes, which most of us do endeavor to do and which is why I've continued to cut the grass reasonably short. Experience---mine, anyway---bears out that weeds do less well when the grass is cut frequently and not allowed to get to be too tall---even 4" tall, so that's what I try to do and so far that has worked pretty effectively. Still some mechanical removal of weeds (the few dandelions, narrow-leaved plantain, wood violets, poison ivy, poke weed and crab grass) has been necessary but has not been arduous.

Maybe, now that we're getting to the end of the mowing season, it'll be more practical to try to remove those plants mechanically.

Suggestion to allow the grass to grow taller is noted! :^D
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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