Weeding Tips

Weed after watering. This will make removal of the roots much easier. If the soil around the root of the weed is dry, chances are the root is dry also and therefore more likely to break.

Weed early in spring. Soil is wet and weeds are small. Early weeding will cut down on what you have to do later in the season.

Remove as much of the root as possible. It may be easier to use a trowel to dig out the weeds. If the root remains in the ground, maintenance may be more difficult in the future.

Make weeding into a game to inspire greater interest. Be certain that students are knowledgeable about what a weed is, and what  a desired native plant is. This is especially important when young plants are sprouting, as they are difficult to identify. Pick an example of a popular weed in the garden and place it in a bucket. Give each child a bucket with a different weed (or pair of students if necessary). Have the kids weed for a certain period of time (10 minutes is a pretty good span) and then compare the relative abundance of each weed. Have a conversation about why some weeds grow larger or more prolifically than others.

Keep  some “wild” in the Wildlife Habitat. This native plant garden is a learning laboratory for what happens in nature. It’s a fine balancing act, because we must also keep sight lines open. The wildlife habitat is not intended to be tidy, just as nature is not tidy. Keep some nesting materials (dried out vegetation) accessible for birds and other small creatures. Do not cut back ferns unless they are crowding out other desirable plants or overgrowing the paths. Many of the flowers are host plants for butterfly larvae; do not remove vegetation if you find a chrysalis. Leave fruits and berries on the plants when possible, so students can observe the entire life cycle of plants.

Selective composting of weeds. The school compost pile may not heat up sufficiently to fully break down weed material, so it is a good idea to keep problematic weeds and their seeds out of the compost pile (see “Weeds” section). Weeds that are not composted may be put in large paper bags and placed in dumpsters by the service entrance.

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