"Natural" weed management - lessons learned

Prairie Moon Nursery is a great seed source. And if you reach out to them about something more local they might know of a regional grower you could turn to. Other than them, all the places I work with are southeast-piedmont specific.

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I agree with cardboard or broken sheetrock and allowing pasture grass which I flail mow once 2-3 feet tall to leave a mulch.
A spray of 20% glacial acetic acid, diluted from a 55 gallon barrel of 100%, will burn down any vegetation within minutes, often ending an annual weed and knocking back perennials. Hazardous to work with until diluted. Decomposes quickly.
One barrel = 275 gallons. Though it comes from Petro processing I have always considered it “natural” since it is the same stuff we eat at 5%.

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I had false strawberry arise in many areas around our new place. Decided, with overgrown strawberry beds 2 years in, to see if strawberries do as well. Yes they do so far. Not getting many strawberries between birds chipmunks and squirrels- hope the neighbors getting a cat and a dog will help so I don’t need to - but so far lovely success with them in my replace a Bermuda lawn and garden beds with wood chips and my chosen plants.

I second the Bermuda grass comments: my best result is heavy cardboard then thick wood chips but I see removing breakthrough Bermuda and nutsedge is now my life’s work. Beats the job I retired from, waiting on cooler weather so I can do more than 30 minutes a day!

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Gardening in the evening is my current strategy.

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I live in a forest. The folks who were here before us aimed for the ‘park’ aesthetic, and used a weed trimmer with a blade attachment to keep any and all plant growth other than trees suppressed. It is way too rough topography to even consider mowing.
I’ve been here ten years. In that time I’ve opened up small areas to get enough sun for fruit growing and small gardens. The places I don’t grow these things are well on their way along the rush of succession. For the most part this has been very rewarding to watch, and discover an astonishing variety of native species coming back. I mow a few wide paths with a scythe and keep tree seedlings I don’t want clipped off, and remove others for firewood or hugelculture. I mulch trees well, but I don’t bother removing low shrubs or perennials, so moving through the ‘orchard’ is sometimes like bushwaking. I’m looking for maximum biodiversity.
I have years of experience with conventional orchards and landscapes, and this is by far a lot less work. For one thing, it encourages natural predators to move in and help control pests, especially rodents (flying squirrels are a special case - they attack at night from the sky!)

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I thought this might fit well into this thread… I’m at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference right now and just did an all-day class with Annie Martin on landscaping with moss. We did a practical and reviewed the previous year’s project, and although the initial removal of other plants was intense, I’d say this is a viable option for orchards… As long as you can get the right species of moss, and enough of it. There are a few that do well in full sun. Also, deer and rabbits don’t eat it, although squirrels will dig in it if you don’t net initially.

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I didn’t read all the replies, but have you thought of an orchard mix? If you can find one for your zone and light conditions, it might work. Also erosion control mixes might be feasible. With you planting on hillsides you need to look at low growing plant materials.

Vole Pressure is high at the primary orchard. I lose a lot of trees if there is any vegetation around trees in the Fall / Winter.

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