naked ladies make a mighty fortress :: a story of weed control

Late winter & early spring in our lives is a time of eternal weed pulling. This weed pulling became compounded when we moved out to the country. Without tidy city fence lines and paved street & sidewalk borders, in the country where the garden ends and a field of grass begins is really just a matter of where you’re willing to stop pulling weeds. These weeds seem to keep encroaching on us making our garden smaller and the field larger, but armed with our hands and our weed whacker we’re always determined to fight back.

(weed free side + a soccer ball…always a soccer ball in my flower beds!)

(just to the right, were the weeds are starting to take over)
This year I found something interesting though. In the flower bed that surrounds our back lawn weeds were only moving in to certain parts of the flower bed. Beyond this flower bed is a field and those grasses were making a concerted effort to take over, but only in one spot. After a bit of head scratching and investigation I realized that the areas that were weed free had a thick border of naked lady (amaryllis) bulbs behind them. It seemed as though the invasive grasses had a much harder time getting over the ‘fence’ of thick bulbs and greenery. Upon further research I found that using a thick rooted & foliaged plant as a weed barrier is indeed a sound way of weed control. These types of plants are called fortress plants (as coined by Toby Hemenway of Gaia’s Garden). Other fortress plants are comfrey, lemongrass, red hot poker and I’m betting that the skyscraper asters I have in other parts of my garden would do the job too.

(the back side of the weed free section – naked lady greens are the wide, long leafed plants in the middle)

(divided and soon to be planted naked ladies)

(skyscraper aster blooming in October)
Just as soon as I learned this, I divided up those naked ladies and created a wall of them to surround my entire flower bed. So next spring, instead of weeding you’ll find me leisurely sipping a piña colada in the shade while my fortress plants do the work. Well….a girl can dream.


Filed under Weeds

7 responses to “naked ladies make a mighty fortress :: a story of weed control

  1. That is such a great idea/discovery. we will follow suit up at our home in Mendocino County. Drip irrigation also helps cut down on the weeding as there is no overhead watering, sending water to the roots only. Glad to be on your email list.

  2. Jo

    What a cool discovery! Please keep us informed.

  3. I think using nature to fight nature is a beautiful thing

  4. Hey, I just wanted to tell you I really admire your garden and blog. I just prepare my little garden to grow some veggies for the first time. Thanks for all the things you share with us.

    Many greetings, Susann

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