I have had many inquiries on this topic, and I would like to post some solutions for you to use as an alternative to poisons.
Weeds do have value to pollinators, as most produce blooms that carry highly nutritious contents for pollinators. However, they can be overwhelming in their growing power, and we need ways to control them without poisoning the soil and the things that feed on them. I would like to begin by saying I allow dandelions to bloom, and pull each and every weed I do not want growing in specific places when the blooms have closed and are heading into seed phase. I never use chemicals, not even vinegar and salt. I would like to urge you to do the same, but I realize we all need options, and I am providing you with some choices that are non toxic.
- Boiling water (BEST). Pouring boiling water over weeds cooks them, and kills them. Water is only water, so it’s okay for it to get into the soil and ground water.
- Spray straight White Vinegar on the leaves of weeds being careful not to go overboard. Too much vinegar in the soil isn’t good for the pH of the soil so it will affect the balance of the existing underground ecosystem if it is applied excessively.
- Spray a mixture of salt and vinegar…and then maybe pull them, roast them, and eat them? Just a joke. The recipe is 1 cup of salt into 1 gallon of vinegar. This is my least favorite approach because adding salt and vinegar to the soil will burn neighboring plants, and disrupt the soil’s pH. Colorado’s soil is already very salty.
Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are the other most popular topic of seasonal pests. I don’t consider them much of a pest because they eat other insects, which makes them a very important part of the food chain. So, instead of finding ways to kill them, I find ways to coexist. They do not like peppermint oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil. So, the best prevention is to spray a mixture of these oils with water around the areas you’d rather them not set up shop, beginning in early spring. Be persistent in applying this spray until May, as they will have found an ideal location by then.
The recipe is as follows: 1 tsp of peppermint oil; 1/2 tsp lavender oil; 1/2 tsp eucalyptus oil into 2 cups of water. Use a good spray bottle to apply this mixture anywhere you do not want them present.
Remember that every living thing has a purpose, so frugally controlling them is in our best interest! I hope you are preparing to host a multitude of pollinators in your yard this summer! Thank you for being part of this very important movement to save our bees!