One of the main stay problems that the average gardener faces are the endless on-slaught of weeds. Many of these unwanted plants are rather easy to rid yourself of while others can be as persistant as the day is long. In either case your looking at a possible hard days’ labor or the use of a chemical herbicide which may hurt you or the environment. In this article we are going to dissuss an alternative to hand pulling or chemicals. Fire!
What is it..?
A weedburner is a very effective tool at destroying unwanted plant foliage. Weedburners are devices that consist of a propane fuel tank, a fuel hose, a metal wand with a burner head and a control valve for controlling the gas. There are hand held varieties which are very similar in their function, but these use disposable propane tank that screw onto the burner wand. The hand held burners are much less powerful and far more expensive to use, so otherwise not recommend for most uses.
Weedburners are readily available on the internet and many hardware-garden stores. The majority of weedburners are very similar in design and function. It’s most important that you feel comfortable with the burner and it’s controls. The one real variance that weedburns do have is their BTU rating. The BTU rating is a measure of how much heat is produced by the burner. The higher the BTU rating, the higher the amount of heat available to kill plant foliage. If your weedburner does not come with a striker or some other type of igniter, then you may need to purchase one. A welders’ torch striker will work just fine. Before you make your purchase of a weedburner for the first time, you should take a moment to become familiar with your local laws regarding the ownership and use of the device. Some localities disallow the use of weedburners at certain times of the year, while others disallow them out right. Many localities demand that a fire extinguisher be present while the weedb!
urner is in use and some require a burn permit. It’s best to stay on the safe side and check before you buy.
Before you light your weedburner for the first time, make sure all connections are tight and sealed. It is also highly recommend that you have a propane tank with a safety release valve. All new tanks have this type of valve. With out this type of valve, if the tank were to tip over while in use, liquid propane would flow through the fuel line. This would cause a very dangerous situation. To ease the use of the burner, we would recommend the use of a dolly or a garden wagon to tote around your propane tank. Before you use the weedburner, have a fire extinguisher, garden hose , bucket of water or some other method of extinguishing a fire ready and waiting.
Where do we use it?
A weedburner is best suited for areas such as gravel walks or drives, sidewalks or patio cracks, fence lines or other open areas. Survey the area before using the weedburner and remove all flammable material as much as possible. Dry leaves and dry grass are generally the biggest flame risk, so remove as much of this debris before use.
How do we use it?
The use is rather straight forward. The larger the flame, the larger the killing area. The goal is not to burn the plant foliage, but to sightly cook it. When the flame initially makes contact with the foliage, you may see steam rise from the plant. The plant may also wilt or change color. This is the tell tale signs that the foliage is destroyed. You can check the progress of the over all kill by pressing some foliage between you thumb and fore finger. This should leave an impression and will be darker than the rest of the leaf.
Weedburners are a good alternative to chemical herbicides, but the user must understand that weedburners are used as a weed management tool. It may take several uses to fully kill off perennial weeds. Care should always be taken when using a burner not to set weeds on fire or to scorch valuable plants. We have had some positive results using weedburners to sterilize soil and rid infested areas of weed seeds. By no means is this a scientific study, but an observation by us and some of our clients. Weedburners also have other uses beyond weed control. Many potters who fire their pottery Raku style use these burners to heat their homemade kilns and weedburners are also good alternative to salt on frozen sidewalks.