how to stop weeds from growing in your garden

Most weeds are easy to eradicate if spotted early enough and can be controlled without the use of chemicals.

Bare patches of soil will quickly be colonised by both annual and perennial weeds, so a well-stocked border is less likely to support a thriving population of these pesky plants. If you have gaps in your borders, plug them by planting ground covering plants.

A weed is technically just a plant in the wrong place. It could be an unwanted seedling from another plant, or something more pernicious and invasive that you really want to eradicate. However, while you’ll never be able to completely stop weeds from popping up, there are ways to ensure they have less places to grow.

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Annual weed seeds can survive for years in the soil, waiting for the perfect conditions to grow. They germinate at lower temperatures than most garden plants and can grow and set seed very quickly. It’s important to recognise them at the seedling stage, so you can eliminate them without accidentally removing your flower or vegetable seedlings.

Prevention.

Bare soil.

A word of caution. Many of the wonderful sources of mulch and compost such as straw, hay, and manure (because of the hay the animal has eaten) are now tainted by herbicides. Herbicides kill broad leaved plants…like beans, tomatoes, lettuce & peppers. Some herbicides will remain in the soil for decades! Make sure your source for mulch is organic.

Just make sure you cut or till it before it goes to seed or some of them can become as bad a weed as your other weeds. Another option is to let your chickens or ducks in to eat the cover crop and get some added fertilizer.

6) Vinegar – Plants don’t like vinegar. You can put vinegar into a spray bottle and using a dog cone to isolate the weed you wish to get rid of, spray just the weed. The vinegar will kill it clear down to the root, though you may need to reapply to kill the very strong and persistent weeds. Make sure it doesn’t get on your prize tomato plant though as it doesn’t discriminate between the plants you like and the plants you don’t.

What Are Weeds?

Organic weed control is not only possible, but you will also find with a little effort at the start, it will make your garden both a place of beauty and a safe place for you and your family to grow the bounty for your table.

Using chemicals to eliminate weeds can do more harm than good.

1) No-Till – One way people cause most of their own weeds is by over-tilling their gardens.

10) Solarize – before your season or after, you can place black plastic on your well-watered, prepared beds. The plastic will keep sunlight out and the water will steam. This results in weeds dying. Weed seeds dying. And solarizing kills off some fungi and diseases too. It is also one of the most effective ways of controlling nematodes for the home gardener. Clear plastic lets in more heat which is better for the nematodes, but black plastic is better for the weeds.

Tip: Vinegar works best in the bright sunlight. It causes the leaves of the plant to dehydrate in the hot sun.

Every garden is going to have a few weeds here and there. But after a few years, your weed pressures will diminish, and you will simply get to enjoy growing tons of tasty edibles and beautiful plants.

4) Cardboard – Also, like newspapers, cardboard is a wonderful barrier. In fact, it is a most effective way of stopping weeds naturally. However, it is not as easy to tear holes in for planting. And it does not let water through very well. But it’s great for the walkways!

Don’t Forget To Put Your Garden To Bed.

Their roots make air and water passages for worms and other organisms that live in the soil, break up compaction, add organic matter, and so much more .

11) Water the plants you want, not the weeds – Weeds need three things to grow. Light, heat, and water. You can’t do much about the heat in your garden, but you can control the light and heat. By using drip irrigation or a soaker hose, you can water where your vegetables are, and at the same time discourage the weeds from germinating. An added bonus is you can add a timer so you never forget to water. Your plants will love you.

I’m sure there are better things all of us could be doing besides weeding our gardens.

Bonus) One of my favorite ways to get rid of weeds at the end of the season is to let my ducks and chickens into the garden area. They will clean up all the weeds and remove many of the bugs that are overwintering to save you that headache too. All while adding a little extra fertilizer. Ducks and chickens can be great garden helpers.

Tackling weeds is a bit of work in the beginning, but these steps will make your life so much easier and your gardening experience so much more satisfying.

What Are Some Ways To Kill Those Pesky Weeds?

But, when you are trying to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers, they can steal precious resources from your plants and not allow them the space they need to spread out and grow properly.

Here are some simple steps to help you with the best way to weed:

Note: Just be careful that things are watered well or you have a hose nearby, so you don’t set your whole backyard on fire.

Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface.

What is your favorite way to eliminate weeds in your garden? Leave a comment and let us know how some of these ideas have worked for you?

One great way to use this I learned when I read the book The Market Gardener. Prepare your garden, water it well, plant your seeds and before any can sprout, go over it with the flame weeder. That will get rid of all the weeds and give your new seedlings a head start.

Check the label to determine if it is safe for use around the kinds of landscape plants you have and effective against the weeds normally present.

Lee Valley Tools Ltd. Box 1780 Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780 800/871-8158 Telescoping Crack Weeder.

Controlling weeds is a fight you can’t win entirely because they always grow back. But you can keep weeds under control by depriving new ones of the conditions they need to take root in the first place. Let’s look at how to prevent weeds from growing.

Photo by Saxon Holt.

Too little fertilizer can lead to sparse lawn that loses the competition with weeds. Too much helps nurture certain weeds, notably annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass and crabgrass. Strike a balance by following the application rates on the package. And use a fertilizer with a high percentage of controlled-release nitrogen, such as sulfur-coated urea, ureaform or IBDU. These provide a slow, steady nutrient supply.

How to Mulch Over Weeds.

You can also use landscape fabrics to control weeds under decks and in pathways (spread over the excavated soil base before you add gravel or sand). A 3×50-ft. roll of landscape fabric, such as the Typar shown below, costs about $10. The fabric is also available in 36-in. die-cut circles (about $3 each) for installing at the base of trees.

Preemergence herbicides, such as those containing oryzalin or trifluralin (look on the label for these chemicals), or nontoxic corn gluten meal, kill weeds just as they germinate and will not eradicate established weeds. For a preemergence herbicide to be effective, you must apply it to soil cleared of visible weeds; also, you have to water most of these herbicides into the soil.

Tips on how to keep weeds out of the garden, add the right amount of mulch over weeds, and 6 mistakes to avoid to keep your garden weed-free.

In the process of trying to eliminate weeds, people often make mistakes that lead to more weeds. Here are the most common:

Irrigation & Green Industry Network 916C N. Formosa Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046 www.igin.com 323/878-0318.

Think it’s an overstatement to call it the war against weeds? Here’s what you’re up against.

Raindrip Inc. 2250 Agate Ct. Simi Valley, CA 93065 www.raindrip.com 877/237-3747 Request the free “Drip Watering Made Easy” guide.

Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots and helps annual bluegrass, crabgrass, chickweed, sedges and other weed seeds germinate. If you water too little, the lawn suffers while spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, quackgrass and other weeds adapted to drier soil thrive. Instead, provide your lawn with infrequent, deep soakings. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to determine when you have applied 1 inch of water.

This Preemergence herbicide, made from corn gluten, is nontoxic. You can safely use it near all of your vegetables as well as around ornamental plants. Photo by Saxon Holt.

Mow Higher.

Mowing too low weakens turf by reducing the ability of a grass leaf to produce enough nutrients. It also lets light hit the soil surface, which helps crabgrass and goosegrass seeds sprout and grow. Check with your local extension service for the recommended range of mowing heights for your grass type. Then mow at the highest level—usually between 2 and 4 inches.

Left unattended, weeds will quickly fill in unplanted areas and any open ground around plants. Mulch spread over the soil surface blocks the sunlight most annual weeds need to take hold. Weeds that do sprout are easy to pull because soil beneath mulch remains loose and moist. Coarse chipped or shredded bark is a good choice for large areas between trees and shrubs because it decomposes slowly and doesn’t easily blow away. For paths, a thick layer of sawdust provides good weed suppression because it depletes nitrogen in the soil.

True Temper Hardware Box 8859 Camp Hill, PA 17011 800/393-1846 Scuffle hoe.

Any weeds that grow through mulch are easy to pull because the soil remains loose. Photo by Saxon Holt.

(For those of you who already have weeds attacking your yard, read our article on How to Get Rid of Weeds.)

Denman & Co. 401 W. Chapman Ave. Orange, CA 92866 714/639-8106 Ball weeder.

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Yes, you can. Synthetic landscape fabrics provide a physical barrier to weeds yet allow air, water and nutrients through to plant roots. Spread the fabric over bare soil around trees and shrubs; overlap several inches of fabric at the seams. Anchor the material with U-shaped metal pins, then conceal it with 1 to 2 in. of mulch, such as stone or bark chips.

Weeds can’t survive without moisture. In areas with little or no summer rain, drip irrigation or soaker hoses help prevent weed seeds from sprouting by depriving them of water. These systems deliver water to the root zone of plants at the soil level. The soil surface and area surrounding the plants stays relatively dry. In contrast, overhead sprinkler systems spray water over the entire soil surface and supply both garden plants and weeds with water.

You can get in-depth information on drip irrigation from the Irrigation and Green Industry Network in the “Where to Find It” section.

The frequency and timing of your fertilizing efforts are also crucial to healthy lawns. Both vary depending on your lawn type and the length of your growing season. Most northern lawns need only one or two applications of fertilizer annually—once in fall and sometimes a second time in spring. Southern grasses might require three feedings—early to mid-spring just after the grass greens up, early summer and again in early fall.

As with most types of prevention, discouraging weed seeds from sprouting requires some extra time now so you can save a lot of time later.

A single redroot pigweed is able to produce up to 30,000 seeds in a season. And those seeds can remain alive in the soil for 70 years waiting to sprout and overrun your perennial border at any time.

Spread Landscape fabric and cut it to fit around plants. Photo by Saxon Holt.