Planting Edibles Next To Oleanders & Organic Herbicides & Sheet Mulching

Question:

Q. How close can fruit trees and other edibles be planted near Oleanders? 

Answer:

You can plant edibles next to Oleander plants without any toxicity concerns.
  • Oleander plants are only a health problem when they are ingested orally or inhaled from drifting smoke. The toxins are never transmitted from casual contact or systematically from one plant to another.
  • I can't tell you the thousand of plants I've unloaded from growers or loaded into gardeners' cars without any ill effects in my earlier days. Nor the times with I’ve brush against a stem or branch breaking the skin on arms. So, I wouldn't be concerned.

Question:

I’m trying to kill off my lawn and replace it with drought tolerant plants. Is there any weed killer available that won't harm my pets?

Answer:

There are a number of organic herbicides available today that kills the existing grass along with being safe to use around pets and kids. Bonide Burnout and Dr. Earth Final Stop are two.
  • Burnout uses acetic acid, commonly known as Vinegar, Clove Oil and a lemon extract while Final Stop uses Citric Acid, Clove Oil and a number of other essential oils. They do an excellent job in killing the grass and have a pleasant smell when applied.
    • They’re both non-selective herbicides so don’t spray them on any desirable plants. They bind themselves to the leaf surface of weeds and grasses and rapidly begins destroying the cell structure through a ‘burn down’ process.
    • There are no residue issues as they are one hundred percent biodegradable. Once in the soil, they become inert so the roots of desirable and nondesirable plants are not affected.  Shallow rooted cool season grasses such as Fescue,  Blue and Rye grass are easily killed but they aren’t recommended for killing Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, Zoysia and other deep-rooted perennial grasses.
  •   You might consider Sheet Mulching as an option. Sheet Mulching would kill the existing grass without using any chemicals but you’ll need a good supply of cardboard or newspaper.
    • You’d mow the grass as short as possible and then cover it with a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper which is then covered with a three-inch layer of mulch.
    • Next, cut holes in the layer, plant and install drip irrigation by converting the existing sprinklers to drip. The grass dies because of the lack of sunlight so Photosynthesis can’t take place.  You’ll find more information at https://www.marinwater.org/158/Sheet-Mulching -Guide or google sheet mulching.

Note:

If there are large mature shade trees around the area, they’ll now need to be watered as the lawn watering did it before. This point is usually overlooked in the conversion, causing them to suffer from water stress. They can be watered using a soaker hose, drip stakes, or deep root irrigator. They can’t go all summer without water.