Current State: I have a parkway strip of about 500 sq ft in MA. The picture included is 30 percent of it. Rest of it is also similar to picture. I have about 5 maple trees (2 year olds) in there. Picture includes 2 maple trees. It can be seen that the strip is covered with crabgrass and other undesirable weeds. Some of the weeds/grass are also emerging out of the mulch surrounding the maple trees.

I am looking for the one of the following expected states. I would like to know your suggestions on what steps would each state entail and if it’s even realistic. Also at the same time, what does it take to keep maintaining the state. I will also include my thoughts on how I think I will get to it. Please correct me if there’s a better or easier way.

Expected State 1: I am looking to replace all the weeds with grass. I would also remove the weeds/grass growing out from the mulch.

I plan to do the above step using either of the methods: Method 1: Find a herbicide that won’t affect my maples and kills all the crabgrass. I don’t mind removing the non-crabgrass weeds by hand. Once the weeds are removed I ll apply a pre-emergent that will limit crabgrass. I will then seed grass and water.

Questions following method 1: 1. Can you give me a magic herbicide (preferably over the counter at homedepot/ace) that would kill crabgrass but have no impact on my maple trees? 2. Can you give me a pre-emergent that will limit crabgrass but not grass?

Method 2: If there’s no safe herbicide available, I will use a tiller to go over the weeds. Then I ll apply the pre-emergent and seed.

Questions following method 2: 1. Will a tiller ideally kill the weeds?

Expected State 2: Replace all weeds/grass with mulch.

I will use one of the above suggested methods to remove grass and weeds.

Questions following that method: 1. Is it easy maintenance with just mulch? 2. Which is considered better looking? “Grass strip with trees in mulch” or “Strip full of mulch with trees in them”? enter image description here

1 Answer 1


The herbicide Weed-B-Gone comes in a variety that kills both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass. I've used it, and it works as advertised. Note that you'll still need to remove any plantain in the area by hand because, while the herbicide does indeed kill it, the weed is able to still set and disburse seeds as it dies. I also hand-remove any black medic for the same reason.

I don't believe that there is a pre-emergent product that will also not prevent lawn grass from germinating - typically, a pre-emergent is used only on an existing lawn and, in the case of crabgrass, around mid-May in your area. If you kill the crabgrass in late July I doubt that you'll get many seedlings that will actually flower yet this year, so save the pre-emergent for next spring.

There is one method you're neglecting, IMO - replacing the grass not with mulch but with a groundcover. I mention this because the strip is on a slope that looks to be no fun to mow, which makes maintenance a pain. The slope will also affect any mulch you lay down, as it will tend to want to head downhill during heavy rains. As for groundcovers, you have many choices, including even hosta if cars don't park next to the strip. You can do some very artistic plantings with hostas when you match one color in one variety's leaves with a color in a different variety's leaves, then repeat over a dozen or so different varieties. Other options are a number of different types of Ajuga, a plant called Mazus reptans, Vinca minor, Pachysandra, etc.

One final idea would be to actually make a shade garden out of the slope, using plants that work well together to give you some flowers but mainly, to provide an interesting look via their leaf and plant forms. If planted densely, this garden would also serve as an effective groundcover and prevent most if not all weed seeds from germinating.

  • Is Weed B Gone by Ortho going to be safe around maple trees? I do not want my year young maple trees to get affected by herbicide.
    – Sandy
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:02
  • You should be fine unless you spray the product directly onto the leaves. It's not a basal treatment, so they should be ok with drift (I've used it at the base of a redbud and more mature Norway maples without problems), but even then I wouldn't spray it directly onto he bark just to safe.
    – Jurp
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 23:02

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