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Old 04-26-2010, 06:58 AM
Location: NJ
4,540 posts, read 9,791,290 times
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I have an alley next to my garage that constantly fills up with weeds and gets overgrown. I spent hours last fall clearing it all out. Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do to prevent any growth here? A friend suggested spraying weed killer and then laying down a thick layer of mulch. It looks like the previous homeowner tried to use stones but most of those are now sunk in with the dirt so it's not very effective at all. My concern with using any type of weed killer is run-off. When it rains I get some run-off that flows into my lawn in one direction, and into the garden in the other direction, so I would rather not use anything toxic.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:14 AM
12,461 posts, read 18,046,883 times
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Spray or dump vinegar on them. The natural weed killer.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:57 AM
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If you are careful how you apply Round-up, run-off is not an issue. I have a 400+' gravel (crusher run, actually) drive that I have to keep weeds off. Using a 1 gal. pump sprayer set on a fine mist setting, and working on a windless warm day, I can do the whole drive with two, maybe three gallons of mix even if I have allowed it to overgrow. There is grass on the downhill slope from the drive and it is totally unaffected.

The key is that Round-up is an enzyme inhibitor and only works on stuff that has emerged. It only takes a tiny amount, and the finest spray gives maximum possible hits and minimum going to the ground. For an area the size of what you are describing, I'd be using less than a half gallon of mix per application, possibly much less. Come back in after about a month or two and hit it again. Some weeds like poison ivy may take a stronger treatment because of the protective waxy coating on the leaves.

Otherwise, vinegar, as has been suggested, boiling water and/or steam, and a flame torch are non-toxic possibilities. Whatever you choose, recognize that it is an ongoing commitment. Weeds will come back and come back and come back, continuing long after you and I and civilization are long gone.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:06 AM
Location: Newport, NC
956 posts, read 3,663,891 times
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Keep in mind that even though it is a common household item, vinegar is still toxic. If I remember the numbers correctly, Round Up is actually less toxic than vinegar.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:46 AM
Location: Floribama
15,875 posts, read 32,948,757 times
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RoundUp is inactive once it gets in the soil, so run-off shouldn't be a concern. Spray it with RoundUp (get the generic 'Eliminator' brand at WalMart, much cheaper), wait about a week, then cover with landscaping fabric and mulch.

If the water run-off is pretty severe you may be better off using pine straw since it stays put better.

The problem with using rocks is down the road if you decide you don't want them they are a PITA to pick up.
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