How to Prevent Weeds Without Harming My Old Cat or Other Animals

by Shelley
(Audubon, NJ, USA)

In late December 2012, I decided to mulch my flower beds - as the mulch looked thin or non-existent - after I raked up my leaves - when I had time.

I wanted to protect my much loved trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, vines, etc.
My property is about 1/4 acre including house & yard (in Southern NJ/near Philadelphia, PA. I ended up using 88 bags of natural cedar mulch - mostly from Vermont, but a little from Canada - each bag 3 cu. ft. It cost me a little more than $400.

I am a 62 year old female of about 106 lbs./5'4". I did all the work. It hurt my stomach area - so I am taking Aleve.

However, I put down no weed protection. I hate to use weed killer as I have had some health issues, plus I want to protect the environment.

But, last year, I got so exhausted weeding that I hired a landscaper, who put down Preen and then mulched - after I weeded. Preen - a germination preventer -(some left from last year/in yard shed), also, needs a certain temperature to prevent weeds - about 50 degrees I think.

We have been having temperatures about 33 - 40 in day, plus under 32 at night. Round-up - a weed killer - (also Round-up sprayer in yard shed) too needs a higher temperature to work. So, I pulled out, or dug out, any weeds.

But, what should I use, and how, and when, to prevent weeds going forward? Wild garlic is one of my many (and most hated) weeds. I do not want to hurt my 15 year old cat, with multiple health problems, or the squirrels, rabbits, birds, occasional raccoon or opossom to be harmed (suburban area/but animals/cat neighborhood with some walked dogs).

I have 24 shrubs around my house (Cape Cod) with 1 tree (maple)in front. I have 17 shrubs in back with 1 tree (crape myrtle). I have 8 roses. I have numerous perennials, vines, etc.

Most of my shrubs/trees were planted at least 10 years ago. Did I even have to mulch? I have a blue house with white window surrounds and burgundy shutters.

The cedar looks nice. But, could I use a cheaper mulch? I had to use 2 landscapers last year, particularly, because I had gotten a passion flower (invasive) and it spread like crazy.

However, it may come up again. What to do about it - flower beds and yard? Further, at my age (husband same age/no children), I feel, sadly, that I will have to reduce our yard - as we are getting older, tireder, etc.

But, we plan to stay here. My husband thinks he may retire at 66. But, he is more interested in scholarly projects than gardening. I have done, each week, a long time, the Claudia Schiffer tapes of ABS, ARMS, BUNS, and LEGS - with 180 crunches and 40 pushups plus.

But, this December, with church activities, (am a Eucharistic Minister for Emmaus Catholic Community), etc., I have not regularly done my exercises. The mulching really took a lot of time and tired me out.

How would you suggest that I reduce my yard?

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Jan 09, 2013
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reducing your yard
by: anlex

can you email some photos to us so we have a better idea of how your garden looks now please.

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