I have been talking about different weeding options in this column for years now. I’ve always held that pulling them out by the roots is the best way to immediately rid your yard of weeds. I’ve also discussed using a pre-emergent twice annually as well as a post-emergent when necessary. Then there’s always the glyphosate chemical that, when carefully applied to weeds, can kill them in a few days. I’ve mentioned organic home remedies, such as boiling water and vinegar that may or may not kill weeds effectively. And to mow regularly!
Recently, I’ve read about “weed burning” or “flame weeding.” That was a new one for me, even though it is really not new at all. It was often used in the past, but the method declined with the introduction of chemical pesticides in the 1960s.
With the more recent concerns about the need to reduce chemicals going into our yards and running off into the waterways, as well as the research into whether these chemicals increase our risk of certain cancers, weed burning has become a bit more popular. I did some research and even looked at customer reviews of the “weed torches” used in the process.
There were a few areas of concern I had for weed burning. The first one was safety, of course. I didn’t see much from the customer comments about getting burned, but just the fact that this tool can reach temperatures up to 2,000 degrees sounds dangerous. I don’t think they are for everyone, and may require some training and practice prior to use.
Then there’s also the issue of fire safety. From what I read, it only takes a moment of heat to kill the top portion of the plant. There’s no need to set the plant on fire. But since that can easily happen and with our hot, dry and windy conditions in Central Texas, I can see that one might need a fire extinguisher with them at all times while using a weed torch.
Another concern I read about was that propane is needed as the fuel source. This may be a cost issue on top of the cost of the tool itself. So cost effectiveness may be something to examine prior to implementation.
The last concern, from most of the comments I read, was that weed burning was very temporary, and the weeds returned fairly quickly. This didn’t surprise me; in fact, it’s kind of humorous. Most weed removal methods are temporary. The fact that the weeds were burnt seemed to give rise to false hope to the purchasers of the weed torches.
Weeds are weeds because they spread and are difficult to control. Nothing is really going to change that for any length of time. Destroying the weeds prior to them going to seed is the best method of weed control. And even then, it’s temporary since we don’t live in a bubble, and weed seeds blow and spread from one yard to the other. Let’s face it, weeds are here to stay. So keep your grass healthy and thick, mow regularly, use a pre-emergent, and pull up weeds when they first begin to show.