|My hubby, Scott|
|Me holding a huge filaree|
Together, we have succeeded in clearing out huge patches of what used to be a solid mat of weeds with a tiny amount of native plants thrown in. It's not perfect, but a person can only do so much.
|Drying cheatgrass & filaree|
|Weeded area on east side of house|
Number 1--preventing future weeds is all about eliminating their seeds.
In my mind, annual weeds exist for only one reason--to reproduce. And they are very good at that. They germinate when moisture is sufficient, make the most of that moisture, and produce as much progeny as they are able. That means if the spring turn dry, they don't waste time on growth. They will remain small and put all their energy into making seeds as quickly as possible. In our case, we have had abundant moisture this spring. The foxtail, cheatgrass and filaree have had the luxury of growing tall and wide and producing a huge amount of seed, which means ample weeds next year unless they are all gathered up and thrown away.
Number 2--don't weed-wack mature weeds. We made the mistake of weed-wacking that awful foxtail, which spewed out seeds everywhere.
In our case, not only did the original foxtails grow back, but brand new plants grew from some of the weed-wacked seeds. Arrgh!! Since many annual weed seeds mature after being cut off, we learned the hard way that the key to preventing this disaster is to always collect the seeds and throw them away. Even raking them up after weed-wacking or picking them off the plant is better than leaving them on the ground.
Number 3--Leave some "nice" weeds behind. But don't forget to control their seeds. Last year, we decided that we liked the weedy native verbena and desert tobacco plants. The rabbits ate the verbena and it provided good ground cover while the hawk moths and hummingbirds visited the desert tobacco flowers frequently. But what was the occasional plant last year has turned into a nightmare this year.
|Seedlings: Desert tobacco, center left. Verbena, center & top left. Pigweed, right.|
|These desert tobacco seedlings need serious thinning.|
|Desert bluebells & California poppies, as well as desert tobacco seedlings that still need to be weeded.|
but next year we may have a repeat of the desert tobacco nightmare. We'll just have to make sure to collect the seeds and distribute them where we want them rather than have them distribute themselves. Oh well, we have lots of places to put them.
This sounds like a lot of work, right? And it is. But the payoff is satisfying. The native perennial grasses are healthier than ever, we're providing open spaces for sagebrush to come in, and without the weeds, we are helping the native wildflowers grow without competition from weeds.
|Indian ricegrass & Squirrel tail|
|Showy Golden Eye|