Should I Salt the Earth?
February 6, 2015 12:48 PM   Subscribe

My neighbor's foreclosed their house. It's a crappy house that is 3' from my back property line. There is a patch of earth there that runs along my fence and only produces weeds. Mostly, it's been pesky vining stuff but now something thorny and evil is pushing through my fence. It gets virtually no sunlight due to the fact that it has a house to the east, a fence to the west and a tree to the south. It's just a horrible weed patch. I have a 5-gallon bucket of rock salt.

No one is living there now though it is on the market. I'm very tempted to go over there and liberally salt the earth in an attempt to thwart some of these weeds.

The evil thorny thing looks like it might be blackberry so what should I do about that? It's new so maybe it can be dealt with? Alternately, what are some things I can do to try to really beat these weeds?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Absolutely not. The next owners may want a garden. Cut and Roundup on your own side.
posted by sageleaf at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

The stuff poking through your fence? Cut it. The rest, complain about to the relevant authorities.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why can't you just pour boiling water on it?
posted by cda at 1:12 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

About four inches of mulch might help.

But realistically you shouldn't trespass on someone's property (even when someone is a bank) and do things to it.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Roundup, spray it on the other side, is not persistent in the environment, so better tactic. Boiling water is also said to be excellent. Can you mow it?

I tried salting an area that shouldn't have plants (an old concrete patch that debris eventually formed soil over) and it didn't seem to work, though I suppose it should at some concentration.
posted by flimflam at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Speaking as a beekeeper and a gardener - PLEASE do not salt or use Roundup. Please.

You can pour vinegar on the weeds and they will dry up and die off without harming the actual soil or what may be grown there in the future. You can put a bit of salt in the vinegar but only a couple of tablespoons per gallon.

posted by Sophie1 at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2015 [45 favorites]

Call code enforcement and notify them that the property is unkempt and has invasive plants on it. Don't salt anything. That's mean.

Take care of everything on your side of the fence as much as you can.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I too am a beekeeper and gardener. PLEASE do not spray Roundup! It gets into ground water and poisons beneficial insects like honeybees, lady bugs, etc. Roundup (Monsanto) is the worst thing to spray.

Try this:
1 Gallon white vinegar
2 cups multi purpose epsom salt
1/4 cup regular blue dawn dish soap
Put into gallon sprayer, if you don't have a sprayer, You can use anything that will spray out liquid, Saturate weeds.
posted by ATX Peanut at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2015 [13 favorites]

Speaking as a beekeeper and a gardener - PLEASE do not salt or use Roundup. Please.

You can pour vinegar on the weeds and they will dry up and die off without harming the actual soil or what may be grown there in the future

Vinegar is not a great idea for a few reasons:

1) it doesn't kill the roots
2) Blackberries in particular like a low ph soil
3) It may not be as effective as all that unless you use higher concentrations which bring their own problems.

I too am a beekeeper and gardener. PLEASE do not spray Roundup!

I don't know why beekeepers would be so concerned about a herbicide, not a pesticide. There is no evidence, at all, that RoundUp has any effect on bees, and there is evidence that it has no effect, assuming there is enough forage in the general environment - and I can't imagine a small patch like this would have any effect on local bee populations.

It is not true that RoundUp (Especially in the volumes you would be using) is likely to leach into groundwater and hangs about in the soil in appreciable quantities.

These numbers suggest that glyphosate has low mobility and only a slight tendency to leach in soil. According to Linders et al. (1994), glyphosate is classified as very slightly mobile in soil. Glyphosate is inactivated through soil adsorption; it has low leaching potential and very low volatility - From the dept of environmental pesticides referencing the EPA studies on RoundUp.

One reason to not consider RoundUp is that it relies on photosynthesis for uptake, so tends not to perform as well in the shade. Depends on how dark this area is I guess.
posted by smoke at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2015 [20 favorites]

I killed some persistent weeds and their seeds by putting down thick black plastic for about six months. Mow the vines close, lay the thick plastic over the area, and stake it down. The longer it is down the more of the weeds will die from lack of water and light. If the area gets sun at some point, the heat may sterilize the soil and kill the seeds. Once someone comes along that cares about that area, they can pull up the plastic and plant.

If you cover the plastic with mulch it will look better but cook more slowly.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 3:50 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

I wonder if the lasagna method would work -- layer cardboard and newspaper and then cover with mulch or woodchips? If you can get away with doing all that it's the least permanent but could really help the next owners -- show them what they can do with the space (likely nothing) and keep the weeds at bay.

If it really gets so very little light and it seems like it's in a hidden area, it seems unlikely that they would ever tend to it. But there maybe isn't a "permanent" solution that doesn't go too far.
posted by amanda at 3:55 PM on February 6, 2015

Kill it with fire? You totally can!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:05 PM on February 6, 2015

Roundup can be used as a lethal injection for blackberry vines.

Cut them as close as you can to the base, then use a heavy-caliber syringe to inject Roundup directly into the freshly-cut cane.

This takes a lot more time than walking along with a respirator and a sprayer, but it's a decisive method. I turned a blackberry thicket into a bare-feet-and-sprinklers lawn in two seasons.
posted by Kakkerlak at 6:08 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

You can also deal with vines by taking a small water bottle and filling it about half full of roundup or similar, cutting off the end of a vine so you have a longish cane and shoving the cut end in the bottle, this works well with blackberries and will kill it back to the roots. I was able to kill the blackberry without touching the rose that was tangled up with it.
posted by boilermonster at 12:35 AM on February 7, 2015

I would refrain from doing damage to property I don't own. But that's just me.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:31 AM on February 7, 2015

Never poison your (or anyone else's) lawn or garden. Eat the blackberries that poke through your fence.
posted by pracowity at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Double checking math for the gaslit   |   Help me plan folate-rich meals in case I get... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.