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marestail, plant roots and other gardening issues

Discussion in 'Personal' started by sel_chick, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Have been doing a spot (ha! spot!) of gardening for my parents. By this I mean they've let it go to rack and ruin and I'm hauling everything out as you can't tell a plant from the weeds.
    Anyway, they have a HUGE section of garden that's completely overrun with marestail.
    I know nothing (really, nothing) about gardening, so I've done a bit of reading, and have discovered it's not an easy 'weed' to get rid of. Does anyone have and tried and tested tips?

    Next, my beloved stepfather has cut down a number of plants/bushes previously but the stumps and roots are still there - getting in the way of everything (and tripping me up as I try to destroy everything around them). I've tried digging them out, but they're either very well embedded or I just don't have the strength to get through the soil under them and get them out. Any tips for making that easier?

    I'm also having a little problem with sunburn on my lower back. Despite sun cream and wearing the longest top I own, when I bend over, my lower back is open to the elements...

    If anybody has any other tips for basically making my life easier during this horrendous process, I'd love to hear them! I'm physically and mentally exhausted!
    Thanks
     
  2. Have been doing a spot (ha! spot!) of gardening for my parents. By this I mean they've let it go to rack and ruin and I'm hauling everything out as you can't tell a plant from the weeds.
    Anyway, they have a HUGE section of garden that's completely overrun with marestail.
    I know nothing (really, nothing) about gardening, so I've done a bit of reading, and have discovered it's not an easy 'weed' to get rid of. Does anyone have and tried and tested tips?

    Next, my beloved stepfather has cut down a number of plants/bushes previously but the stumps and roots are still there - getting in the way of everything (and tripping me up as I try to destroy everything around them). I've tried digging them out, but they're either very well embedded or I just don't have the strength to get through the soil under them and get them out. Any tips for making that easier?

    I'm also having a little problem with sunburn on my lower back. Despite sun cream and wearing the longest top I own, when I bend over, my lower back is open to the elements...

    If anybody has any other tips for basically making my life easier during this horrendous process, I'd love to hear them! I'm physically and mentally exhausted!
    Thanks
     
  3. henriette

    henriette New commenter

  4. Oh heck....... tha sounds like a job and a half!
    When I was stump removing....... many years ago.......... it took days and days.
    Had to dig down ..... about a foot plus away from the stump........ in a circle. Enough for one day.....
    then with sharp saw, garden pruning knife, start hacking through the roots...... within the circle digging down as you go. So you are down about a foot....
    Takes days. Dont do your back in.
    Then, removing soil and roots begin to rock the stump...... There will be yet more roots. So if you free up one part you can get under the stump for yet moe roots that need to be cut. More rocking. It becomes self evident.
    Then with a bit of luck, fair weather and strength, you may get the stump free and out.
    Have a hot bath and a reviver.
     
  5. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Wretched stuff, marestail - I believe the TV gardening expert Percy Thrower was once asked what you should do if you have it in your garden and his response was "Move house".
    It's really invasive - the roots seem to go at least 1m down, and they snap off so easily that pulling it up is not effective and probably makes it worse. There is nothing in my garden that seems able to eat it or infect it - probably because the leaves have a hard waxy surface that most chemicals can't penetrate, so unless you trample and crush the plant first, most weed-killers won't be effective. Really, from what I've read, there's not much out there that will kill it off completely without turning the place into a toxic wasteland where nothing else will grow for months. Don't think I haven't considered this...!
    However, complete erradication might be impossible for me, as it's also in the field beyond my hedge and probably in the neighbour's garden too, so I'm aiming to restrict it as much as I can. I'm told that mowing it to remove new growth regularly will eventually weaken it - and it certainly seems to be having trouble colonising the lawn. Early strimming experiments were definitely not a success - every little shredded piece that flew across the garden tried putting down roots. For the borders, I've begun snapping off the shoots as soon as they appear, hoping that eventually it runs out of energy but you need to be out there very often as once it starts photosynthesising, it's putting more root growth down and spreading further. I also make sure I get out in the spring before the spores are released and snap those spore-producing shoots off and destroy them (rather than compost!).
    I realise that I may never totally clear it from my garden, but I'm trying to restrict it from taking over completely. Sometimes I find myself wondering why the whole of England isn't covered in the stuff....
     
  6. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    read in Gardeners World (I think it was) that if you spray in the
    autumn when the stems of mares tail are opened out that the plant takes
    the glyphosate down to its root system and stores it there over winter.
    Then when the plant starts to regrow in the new year the glyphosate
    kicks in and kills it. It would be worth trying on a test area to see if
    it works.
    found this article and involves using a stronf power weedkiller withthis stuff in.strong as you can get.ebay/amazonrather than garden centre
    Done cover it wont surpess it....but in ther past i just dig and destroy....do not add to a compost heap best dried and burnt! I do my best to weaken it by active action.spraying and picking out!
     
  7. Cut it down and spray glyphosate into the open stems.
     
  8. Thanks very much for all of your suggestions - this is a huge learning curve for me and one that's making me appreciate my concrete jungle all the more. Never again will I complain about weeding inbetween the bricks!
    As I'm completely removing everything from the area the marestail is invading, perhaps spraying would work well. I'm trying to convince the parents to 'chuckie' over this bit, so it's interesting to hear covering doesn't work (had read that it did). Perhaps a combination of serious spray and cover might do the trick?!
    Another wet day, so gardening is off the cards again...can't say I'm disappointed!
    Thanks again.
     
  9. A wet day and soft soil is just what you want for digging stuff out! Get those wellies on and get out there! ( Or perhaps investigate the cost of a gardener..?)
     
  10. I set my mother on the gardener investigation task, but I reckon she thinks keeping me fed and watered whilst I'm there is a better (i.e. cheaper) option!
    I've got a few things to do this morning (it is my holiday afterall!) but I'll maybe try and get over there and out this afternoon. At least the rain would reduce the risk of sunburn on my back!
    Does anyone have any ideas on how to get my stepfather interested in getting out and back to work in the garden? He always had a lovely garden, and somehow managed to fit in keeping it in shape around his working, but the overgrown problems have all stemmed from him retiring - he just seems to have lost interest in everything. My mums not able to do much due to arthritis in her back and knees, but even she was out helping me - that seemed to guilt him enough to take a couple of bags of rubbish to the dump (pity about the 20+ that still need to go!).
     
  11. Garden at our rental house overrun with marestail, coming up round each paving slab. Not my garden so no way I'm lifting them.
    But, trampling a bit to soften then spraying with glyphosate has killed a lot of the b***ers. Several sprays required, and it doresn't stop new ones in their place.
    Covering has little effect- they grow through quite a lot of stuff
     
  12. http://www.allotment.org.uk/grow-your-own/weeds-and-what-to-do
     
  13. I have an organic garden, mostly. But there are a couple of critters I use spray for and marestail is one of them.
    In growing season I let the shoots grow a little then hoe them off just below the ground, that weakens the plant.
    Each time it appears I let some grow on and I crush the stems and leaves a bit, cover in a plastic bottle, bottom cut out and stuck into the soil and spray weed killer into the neck of the bottle. That concentrates the spray and prevents anything else getting a dose.
    This year I am using brushwood killer instead of the usual glyphosphate. Next year I'll know how succesful this has been. Hopefully it will also be successful on the bindweed, I have a big rhizome under on corner of the house, it is very, very large and healthy! But I am winning, slowly!
    As for the roots, dig down and about 6 inches round the stump, save the soil, you will need it. Cut all the roots you can find, secateurs or loppers or even a junior hacksaw come in handy. Heave out what you can for about 6 - 8 inches down. Paint anything raw cut with glyph or similar, just in case it is feeling a bit vigorous, and then re-bury the lot. It will all rot down over a few years.

     

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