Got moss? Try this simple recipe

Columnist Claudette Sandecki says her yard began to resemble the "before" photo in a weedkiller ad

To passers-by my yard must resemble the “before” photo in a weedkiller ad.

If I could, I’d borrow someone’s kid goat to pasture on my weeds, though I fear neighbours and regional district would object to the presence of a goat, no matter how odourless.

At the same time my dog would drool over the prospect of a fresh meal, giving the goat a debilitating case of PTSD.

Mainly moss three inches deep, knee high dandelions tower over all including a Homer Simpson crop of superfine grass.

Mowing the dandelions put my mower in the shop for repairs leaving me to contemplate how to get rid of the moss and dandelions forever. White vinegar led my possibilities after reading a Facebook entry.

White vinegar has many household uses from pickling to cleaning to weed killing.

I don’t pickle. But I have used vinegar for cleaning grease around the stovetop burners. And when neither cleanser nor steel wool would remove gray stains in the toilet bowl left by sprinkling in SeptoBac powder and not flushing immediately, in a few hours white vinegar removed all signs of the stain with only gentle brushing.

So when I read on Facebook a relative’s comment that a mixture of one gallon of white vinegar, two cups of Epsom salts and a quarter cup of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid would kill weeds as effectively  as Monsanto’s chemical, Roundup, I mixed  a batch and tested it on an isolated dandelion displaying half a dozen robust blooms.

Facebook advised sprinkling on the vinegar mixture after the dew had evaporated about mid forenoon. This I did.

Within 24 hours the dandelion had wilted flat;  days later it still shows no sign of life. The spot is brown with no hint of green.

Testing it first on an isolated dandelion displaying half a dozen blooms. Next morning the dandelion had wilted flat and so far has not shown signs of reviving.

Reassured it worked, I tried it out on a rectangle of moss about 4 x 8 feet.

By next morning, the three-inch high green moss in my experimental plot had transformed into a tan area of shrunken, dry crumbles.

Still, the sparse grass that grew there appears untouched, as are two eight-inch high cherry seedlings standing sturdy and green.

Mixing the recipe will take some refining. I had expected the Epsom salts to melt like sugar, demanding little extra space when added to the vinegar. But that’s not how Epsom salts react.

Vinegar overflowed, necessitating dividing the concoction into two containers and pouring back and forth to mix the ingredients.

Next batch I’ll try melting the salt in a cupful of simmering vinegar so I won’t end up with crystals that no doubt dilute the mixture and definitely plug the sprayer.

As a sprayer, I used a watering can but undissolved Epsom salt plugged the sprinkler holes.

I happened to be packaging recycling that week and found a plastic Tang container the size of a pint  thermos.  I drilled  a pattern of 1/16 inch holes in the lid. They proved perfect for the job, but slow.

Talking to a gardener whose lawn rivals  Butchart’s Gardens, he suggested I try a hand pump sprayer.

Walmart‘s website shows an RL Flo-Master one or two gallon sprayer with a nozzle that can be adjusted from mist spray to a single stream.

The gardener uses one filled with water to control the perimeter of a fire when he burns off dry grass in the spring. At Walmart I found an RL Flo-Master one gallon hand pump sprayer for $11.17. As soon as I assemble the parts, I’ll give it a try.

Claudette Sandecki mixes up concoctions in Thornhill, B.C.