Gardening is rewarding work, but weeds are a serious problem. Gardeners take pride in gorgeous, weed-free ornate gardens and robust vegetable patches. Fruit trees and bushes usually thrive when they are not competing with undesirable plants. There is no substitute for a lush, green lawn that is not choked by dandelions and other weeds. What are the options for dealing with weeds in the garden and lawn?
Manual Weed Control
Originally, weeding was done by hand, with or without tools. Weeds were also discouraged by modifying the fertility and salinity of the soil. Additionally, various strategic planting methods were developed to head off unwanted plants.
In the 1940’s, the first synthetic herbicide 2-4-D was developed. When the product went on the market in 1946, it seemed to herald in a new era of ease. Just spray and walk away and the weeds would die. That was before its toxicity became apparent.
Next came chemicals like atrazine which proved to be carcinogenic. Then, in the seventies, glyphosate hit the market as Round-up. Glyphosate is today progressively recognized as less and less safe and can cause soil organisms to die. Weeds can become resistant to the chemical.
Natural Herbicide: Corn Gluten
In 1985, Dr. Nick at Christians, of Iowa State University, discovered by fortunate accident that corn gluten had herbicidal properties. Corn gluten is a non-toxic by-product of the manufacturing of corn starch. This is a safe and easy way to deal with weeds. Corn gluten turned out to be a great pre-emergent weed killer.
Applied to lawns in the spring, as weeds began to germinate, corn gluten dehydrated the seed and made it impossible for them to sprout root systems. This killed them at the starting gate, before it became necessary to pull them out of the ground or spray them with toxic chemicals. Some of the many weeds corn gluten works against include:
- Bermuda grass
- creeping bentgrass
- smart weed
- barnyard grass
- redroot bigweed
Application is easy and can be done by hand or with a spreader. Timing is important because the corn gluten needs to be laid down just as weeds begin to germinate. At American Natural Products, we carry Dynaweed, an excellent corn gluten product that is very economical and effective. It is granulated for easy spreading.
Corn gluten can be used around established plants (vegetable, flowering, shrub, fruit) as well as established lawns. It only kills the roots of sprouting seeds. Existing plants are perfectly safe around corn gluten. This product is so safe, it is used in many pet foods. Corn gluten will not harm soil organisms, pets, beneficial insects or children.
For lawns, successful application requires 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Corn gluten is 10% nitrogen. This gives you 2 whopping pounds of nitrogen fertilization for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. It is best applied twice a year, in the spring and fall, and its impact is cumulative. Each successive year of use enhances its effects.
While corn gluten is slightly more expensive than chemical weed killers, it is much cheaper when environmental and potential health costs are calculated. American Natural Product’s corn gluten, Dynaweed, is among the best priced on the market. Corn gluten is often priced at two dollars a pound, but ours is less than one dollar per pound. This makes beautiful, healthy, safe lawns and gardens easy — and affordable! Click to learn more about Dynaweed.