Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Ridding of Roundup


Hello Fellow Readers,

A few weeks back I dug in with Andrew of Sparta NJ who wished to enhance his gardens in time for hosting pre-prom photos for his daughter. He was expecting sixty with friends and parents. I recall how Jessica came home from school eleven years ago when I first worked with Andrew and grabbed her play trowel to join me in planting perennials. She got a special kick out of tickling the roots – loosening the roots with her fingertips to encourage them to spread widely in their new home.


Andrew’s garden designed long ago…

This time while planting with Andrew, we chatted about life experiences, both having gone through a heartbreaking divorce. We shared lessons learned, and the healing and growth that has taken place since. Gardening has a way of bringing people together. I asked if he knew the parents that were coming for pre-prom. “Not really. Maybe I met them on a soccer field, but I don’t socialize much. With work and taking care of things around the house, any time that I have I’d rather be with the kids.” I admire Andrew’s commitment to his children; all three have grown strong and solid roots.

As we were ending our day, he mentioned needing to buy Roundup to spray the joints in his paver walk. Roundup has already been banned or restricted in many countries. “Have you heard about the lawsuits going on?” I asked.

“I think they may be exaggerated,” he said.

Instead of rattling what I’ve read, I suggested my go-to pet and people safe Burnout Weed killer which is a mixture of citric acid and clove oil. There are also homemade recipes like 1-gallon household white vinegar and 1-cup of table salt mixed with 1-tablespoon liquid dish soap. Or a 1-gallon vinegar, 2-cups Epsom salt, and a quarter-cup dish soap potion a few members of North Warren Garden Club swear by.


The garden already looks happier Roundup-free…

With or without salt, vinegar is nonselective in what it kills including desired plants. Household vinegar will only kill the foliage, though the salt added gives a one-two punch. However, the salt will remain in the soil which is not good in the garden as you can tell by plants impacted by road salt.

There’s a 20 percent horticultural-grade vinegar that will kill roots as well as foliage, but it’s especially caustic if inhaled or in contact with your skin or eyes so wear protection. They say adding 1-cup of orange or citrus oil to a gallon of horticultural vinegar is far more effective.

The only time I’d consider using salt with vinegar or horticultural vinegar is for persistent weeds in gravel driveways and paths or gaps in walkways. They to be applied on a sunny, above 70-degree dry day, with no rain in the forecast to be effective. Then keep pets away for a few hours until the application dissipates.

A Recent article in the Wall Street Journal (6/14/19) reports “Bayer AG plans to invest $5.64 billion on developing new ways to combat weeds over the next decade, as the German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant seeks to win back trust in its business in the wake of thousands of lawsuits alleging its Roundup herbicide causes cancer.”

A promising shift. Garden Dilemmas?


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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