What can I add to weeds

With flames against weeds

Lots of rain, with a few warm days in between - summer 2016 brings paradisiacal circumstances to everything that is green and blooming. Unfortunately, this also applies to weeds. Garden and property owners can confirm it: In every nook and cranny, in the middle of the lawn and between the paving joints, all kinds of unpleasant greenery are currently sprouting.

Public areas are of course also affected. A prime example of this is the Hofheimer Friedhof. Since more and more graves in the old part of the Gottesackers, whose resting time had expired, were not reoccupied in recent years, weeds have been spreading more and more, including on the paths. The city of Hofheim is well aware of the problem and is now starting an attempt to put a stop to the weeds - using a gas burner.

With a gas burner, of all things, most gardeners might think straight away - it doesn't do any good. On the contrary: as soon as the weeds are flamed, the next generation of weeds grows out of the ashes, like the fabulous phoenix fire bird.

But Hofheim's mayor, Wolfgang Borst, reassures those concerned: The method now used by the green squad of the municipal building yard is a new type of process that uses a gas burner to reliably kill the weeds. At least in the current season you should have peace of mind, says Borst.

The new thing about it is the temperature at which the weeds are treated, explains construction yard employee Manfred Häfner, who got to know this method during a training course.

Burners with only 70 degrees

Instead of burning the weeds to ashes, as is the case with the less effective conventional flamethrower actions, this is only exposed to 70 degrees using special burners. This changes the vegetable protein in the weed right down to the roots, explains Häfner. It dies and, above all, does not grow back again immediately. In order to work safely, the weeds must be treated with the gas burner three times, at three-week intervals.

Mayor Borst is clear that this is not a permanent solution, at least not for the cemetery. But until this is redesigned and partially rebuilt in three or four years, this method could help the building yard to keep the weed growth in check there at least on the paved paths and on sandy areas. According to Borst, a hard-wearing lawn was sown in the gaps in the rows of graves, which makes a neat picture.

Prevention when creating a new system

When the cemetery is rebuilt, attention will be paid to preventing weeds as much as possible. Häfner and Borst see a positive example that this can be achieved through structural measures in the roundabout at Goßmannsdorfer Tor. The area in the center of the roundabout has remained largely weed-free so far, which, according to the two, is due to the layers of gravel that were built there, and which hardly give the weed seeds carried by the wind a chance to develop.

Chemistry is not allowed

Borst believes that work could also be done in this direction, with the targeted use of gravel, at the Hofheim cemetery, which is to be redesigned. But there are no precise plans yet.

But why has the weed problem so recently emerged? “We used to be able to use chemical herbicides to control weeds,” explains the mayor. But their use has been strictly limited and is now generally prohibited on public areas. The glyphosate-containing "Roundup" and other herbicides that do little work and act quickly are therefore taboo for the building yard employees, reports Borst.

And since weeding by hand simply takes too much time, the city has to think about how to get the weeds under control without environmental toxins. The modified gas burner is a glimmer of hope.

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Wolfgang Borst
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