Homegrown Column May 23, 2009

I understand you recommended Weed Free Zone for bindweed control. Could you give me any more info?
— Frank from Montrose

I really love this stuff. Weed Free Zone is a mixture of four different herbicides, and it’s worked really, really well on bindweed, certainly better than any other product available to the home-owner out there.

One spraying probably won’t get rid of the bindweed completely; these guys have a pretty extensive root system and it will take a bit of persistence to get it under control. After you spray, the weeds will start to brown out in a couple days. Half to two-thirds of it won’t re-sprout.

You’ll want to spray again when any bindweed does sprout back up. If you beat it back down when you see new sprouts, you’ll be able to get rid of this plague in time.

Since the herbicide is primarily absorbed through the foliage, you don’t want to pull the plant or cut any of the foliage off before you spray. The more foliage you have, the more you can spray and the more of the herbicide the plant will absorb.

Also, try to wait 24 hours before watering or mowing after you spray the material.

The last thing is to be careful spraying around desirable plants. This weed killer won’t hurt grasses but it will damage or kill any broadleaved plant it gets on. Be sure where you’re applying it when spraying near flowers or shrubs in the yard.

This product has some soil activity, so you just want to thoroughly wet the leaves of the weeds but not soak the soil.


I am looking for shrubs that don’t drop the leaves in the fall and that stay small. I have a small yard, and I am trying to make it look like a Japanese-style garden.
— Jean

There are a few things for you to consider. The first thing is whether the area is sunny or shady.

A number of broadleaved evergreens and some nice dwarf conifers would work for you, but they will need some shade, especially in the afternoon.

If that’s what you have, I suggest boxwood, holly, Oregon grape or some of the dwarf varieties of euonymus for the broadleaved evergreens.

These guys offer great color and texture to the garden plus the addition of colorful flowers and/or fruit on some of them.

Now, you mentioned that you didn’t want any leaves to drop in the fall.

These plants keep their leaves pretty much all winter long, but they do drop in the spring, usually as the new growth is emerging.

Most people let them go because they lay at the base of the plant, providing a mulch layer (that’s good), and it’s hidden by the new leaves coming out.

For conifers in the shade, you could use varieties of dwarf Norway or white spruce such as nesting spruce or dwarf Alberta spruce. Yew and varieties of common juniper are also good plants in the shade.

Having a sunny area unfortunately eliminates most of the broadleaved evergreens we can plant here.

One group of plants that might work are the brooms. There’s a variety of broom called “Lydia” that I especially like.

The plant grows 18–24 inches tall with a 4-foot spread. It has bright green, wiry stems so it sort of looks “evergreen” year-round.

I have one in my yard that is in full bloom, and it is just beautiful. I’ve had people driving by stop and knock on our front door to ask what it is.

The plant is covered with bright yellow flowers for two or three weeks. The color really is something.

There are other, taller varieties available as well.

In conifers, you don’t have tons of choices, but here’s a few.

The first are “true dwarf” varieties of mugo pine. These plants are grafted or cutting grown so they are reliable and predictable in size.

There are also a couple varieties of dwarf Colorado spruce such as “Montgomery” (which might get a bit tall in time), “Mesa Verde” (more of a spreading groundcover type plant) and “St. Mary’s Broom” (which I think is happier with a touch of shade in the afternoon).

Finally, you might consider that old favorite, juniper.

They’re pretty common around here, but they’re tough, hardy and drought-tolerant. In time, they may get wider than you would like, but they’re easy to prune.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, online at http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or e-mail info@bookcliff
gardens.com.


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