Winter Weeds

This winter of 2021-2022 has been like nothing I have ever seen before in the high desert. First we had what apparently is called an atmospheric river.  What?

According to the NOAA the definition is:

Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.

While the high desert did not experience the worst of these “bomb cyclones” we did get a lot of rain in a short period of time.

And then in January there was a tsunami advisory for the west coast of California. More rain in the high desert.

La Nina or El Nino who really knows? The result of all of the rain in the high desert in January is …….. weeds!

By January 20th little sprouts of green were appearing everywhere. By the middle of February larges areas are carpeted. This happens every few years and I will admit is my worst spring nightmare.


How to deal with weeds? It has taken years for me to find the most efficient way to tackle what can be a monumental problem.

My first inclination is to immediately start attacking them with a hula hoe (more on that below). Unfortunately the result is a sore back and their reappearance. A lot of work that is ultimately counter productive. As long as the weather stays cool and (relatively) damp the weeds will continue to sprout.

It’s hard to look at without groaning but it is much more efficient to wait until the weather warms up and dries out before you start on this chore. Although their roots may become more entrenched as they grow their ultimate death is much more assured if you wait. Patience is a virtue they say ……

I have tried many weed killers including homemade recipes and have not found anything that is effective enough to justify its cost. The only way to eradicate them is with labor and the proper tools.


Meet the hula hoe – or oscillating hoe, or scuffle hoe or flexrake. All the same but this is the tool to get those weeds out roots and all. I had never heard of one before I moved to the high desert but they are invaulable. A must have.

Learn how to use it effectively in my post How To’s

If the weeds have grown faster than you can remove them a weed wacker is the only tool to use that will allow you to keep your sanity – and not ruin your back.

I prefer the cordless so I can wack anywhere!

A dandelion weeder is one of the most useful garden tools I have. Not only will it help you get weeds out of crevices and from between rocks I also use mine to loosen soil around plants, etc, etc.



Weeds between the bricks. This is the worst! There was a time when I would dig out each one with the dandelion weeder. Those days are long gone.

I cannot recommend this at all but I will share my solution. I wait until they are really dried out and burn them with a propane or MAP gas tank. Pfft!! Just make sure there is no wind and your hose is nearby.

Update: I have purchased a power washer and it is said that this will get rid of those weeds. Haven’t tried it yet but I’ll keep you posted.

More information and buying sources can be found here:

Practical advice from a home gardener

I am Deborah Valiquet – artist and obsessive gardener. Here you will find my advice for creating a garden oasis in the high desert. I’ll share my experiences – successes and failures over the last 10+ years. 

Even if your garden isn’t in the high desert you will find lots of valuable information here. Let’s dig in!


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