By Ken “Weed Boy” Singer
It has been said that, “A weed is just a flower that is in the wrong spot.” However, the Colorado Weed Management Association has determined that if your pet flower is non-native and/or threatening to human or animal health, or needs to be eradicated for one reason or another, it should be eliminated.
The Lyons Recorder will be doing a Spring to Fall series of articles to help you, the homeowner or renter, identify the weeds around your home that should be removed by mechanical, preventive, cultural, biological, and in some cases, chemical means. In cooperation with the Lyons Volunteers’ Weed Posse, we will be offering information on how to safely eliminate these noxious weeds without relying on the chemicals that Dow, Monsanto, Scotts, and other agri-business giants want us to put on our lawns, driveways and open spaces.
Since the Ecology Board, concerned parents, and many other folks concerned about their health and our environment want to keep chemicals out of
the parks and open spaces of Lyons, this series will help identify the weeds that must be removed from the environment as well as the best ways (short of using toxic products) to get the job done.
According to the handy illustrated pocket guides put out by the Colorado Weed Management Association, mechanical control involves removing seed heads or mowing. It can also be accomplished by clipping runners or rhizomes (roots, which form new plants).
Prevention includes mulching with wood chips, pebbles, agricultural fabric or other physical barriers to deny seeds a chance to germinate. Mulch also reduces the need for watering, something that is necessary in the semi-desert conditions of Colorado.
By cultural, the Association means over-seeding with desired plants to crowd out the unwanted interlopers. It also involves, if you have grazing animals, rotating their forage so native plants have a chance to regrow.
The biological methods call for releasing beneficial insects (or planting species of flowers, for example, that parasitic wasps or other beneficial insects feed on.) This is especially important if you want to grow food crops such as apples or eggplants while avoiding the use of pesticides.
Chemical ways to eliminate unwanted weeds can include lawn preparations for specific weeds (crabgrass, dandelions, etc.), broad spectrum killing (glyphosate- Roundup), industrial-strength vinegar (20%), or even boiling water (good luck with that.) Some are specific and won’t harm the nearby plants. However, there is some controversy around the application of glyphosate.
Without going into the politics of Roundup-related products (the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared it as “probably carcinogenic in humans”, and a public park employee in California was given a multi-million dollar award this year for his contracting cancer), many people in Lyons do not want this weedkiller to be spread in our parks and open spaces.
Just a note on “what was okay yesterday, but now we know better”… A confession - Sixty years ago, with my father’s permission, I used to kill weeds growing in our sidewalk and curbs by pouring gasoline on them. Do I/we know better? Also many people used to smoke and not use seat belts. Know better now? So, whether you think the jury isn’t in on glyphosate or not, if you can remove weeds without chemicals, isn’t it the more cautious approach?
This series of articles will help residents identify the A, B, and C list weeds as well as the best times and ways to eradicate them. If you are not aware of the work of the Weed Posse, this group of local volunteers pull and clip weeds weekly nearly year-round in public spaces throughout the town.
If you are not familiar with the A, B, or C lists, the Management Association defines them as:
A - “must be eradicated wherever detected in order to protect neighboring communities and the state as a whole.”
B - are those species which are spreading and governmental agencies have determined they should not be allowed to spread.
C - maybe not so bad but probably should be picked or pulled.
We will identify the weeds that are frequently a problem in Lyons and help you deal with them in ways that are benign to the environment and perhaps find a use for them in a tea or other herbal remedy. If you would like to get your own copy of the “Noxious Weeds of Colorado” booklet, you can contact the Association at: www.cwma.org.