We all know the enjoyment of finally having a beautiful looking garden after hours and hours of hard work. It’s so nice sitting back and taking it all in knowing that you have created a garden that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also bares your favorite foods and flowers.
We also know that this doesn’t last long because if you don’t do something to stop the weeds from over taking your hard work, your garden will eventually be takin over by tall weeds. So how do we prevent these weeds from taking over and at the same time, not causing toxic damage to your garden’s soil? Check out a few tips I quickly put together for you!
Tip 1: Get Rid of Bare Soil from Your Garden
According to an article in The Guardian,
“Bare, exposed soil isn’t part of nature’s master plan. How many examples can you think of where soil is naturally found bare and with no plants at all growing in it? Good examples are beneath freshly uprooted trees, landslips, or where the ground has been charred following a heathland fire. In these situations bare soil isn’t bare for long; within days seedlings begin to appear and cover the ground with a miniature green forest. In a few months’ time the scar is barely noticeable. A year later you would never know it had been there at all.
Contrast these natural examples of bare soil with those created by man: ploughed fields and freshly dug gardens and allotments are obvious examples. But, left to nature, even these vast expanses of bare soil soon turn green with a multitude of tiny seedlings. Think of those wild, overgrown allotments or that jungle-like abandoned garden – these too were once bare earth. In fields, gardens and allotments, on lawns, roadside verges and sports fields, along streets and on paths and pavements, we are constantly battling to stop weeds from growing. All we are doing is keeping the healing powers of nature at bay. Weeds act like a kind of living “plaster” whenever soil is exposed, either by natural or artificial causes. As far as nature goes, bare soil is out. When soil is exposed to sunlight it’s not only the earthworms that quickly burrow back into the darkness. Millions of microscopic soil organisms are also exposed to the potentially harmful rays of the sun, so the sooner plant growth covers the soil over again, the better. Once you appreciate this perfectly natural reaction by nature, you start to see that weeds aren’t there to deliberately frustrate our gardening efforts; they are simply doing their job. Just as new skin forms after we’ve caught ourselves on a rose thorn, weeds help heal wounds in the earth. Look at it another way: it’s us who are causing the problem by insisting on bare, neat-looking soil – open wounds, if you like. Left to their own devices, weeds also help to improve the fertility of the soil. They do this in several ways. Their roots bind the soil together, helping to improve its structure and create a more stable environment in which soil life can flourish. Those weeds with a deep taproot, such as curled dock, draw up plant nutrients from deeper in the ground, making them available to plants growing near the soil surface. Above ground, the stems of weeds help trap fallen leaves and other organic matter, which break down into the soil or are dragged underground by earthworms. And when the weeds themselves finally die – after weeks, months or years depending on the type of weed and its life cycle – both the leafy tops and the roots decompose into valuable humus.”
Tip 2: Keep Weeds Out of Your Rows You Walk On
Keeping weeds out of the walking rows that are in between your plants is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look. The answer to this issue is mulching. I simply use whatever I have on hand at the moment. Straw and shredded leaves work great to create a thick 3 to 5″ covering between our planting rows and will help eliminate weeds. From time to time a few weeds will start to pop up but don’t worry as you can simply pull them on your daily trips through the garden. If they become thicker – we simply take the weed eater through the garden and mow them down to the ground and reapply a few more inches of mulch. It immediately looks great again and stays that way for weeks. This is so much easier and quicker to do than waiting until they grow out of control.
Tip 3: Spend 5 Minutes or Less Each Day Checking on Weeds
Pull out the weeds while they are young and tender. Don’t wait till the roots are thick and fully developed. The easiest way to do this is to wait until after it rains so that the soil is soft and moist. It will be much easier to do this than when the soil is dry because with dry, hard soil you will most likely not be able to get the root out when you pull the weed. It’s important to pull the weeds out before it starts to flower and goes to seed. After this point you will be facing an up hill battle that will be very frustrating.
In some cases you may need to dig out a weed with a weeding fork or an old screwdriver. But be careful: This is an easy way to slice off root particles or plant pieces that grow into more weeds.
Tip 4: Use Mulch and More Mulch
Mulch is good stuff. It holds in soil moisture and shades the soil to prevent weeds’ seed germination. It’s porous nature makes it easy to pull weeds that spring up through it. Remember weeds are a living organism and they need light and warm soil to thrive. With this in mind, when using mulch as a natural weed barrier, you need to put down approximately a 2 to 3-inch layer. In most cases that’s enough to keep the weed seeds from sprouting. By doing this you block their access to the sunlight and they won’t have enough energy to push through the mulch.
Covering your garden soil with a layer of organic matter can smother and inhibit weeds, as well as prevent new seeds from germinating. Good sources of mulch include wood chips, compost, grass clippings, and straw. Just be sure not to get hay, which can contain a lot of unwanted seeds. With that being said, not all mulches are appropriate for all plants or all locations. There isn’t a universal mulch as you would need to find a mulch that works best for your garden. Check out our article for more on this topic.
For example, large pine bark chips do a good job at suppressing weeds, but they’re a poor choice for windy locations because they can blow out of a bed and fly all over the lawn.
Tip 5: Boiling Water
The boiling water treatment is inexpensive and effective in burning weeds especially those in the cracks of your pavement and coming up in your garden paths. Hot water works better on broad-leaf weeds than it does on established perennials, woody plants and grass.
Simply boil a kettle of water and pour it over any weeds to burn them. The water will cool as it runs off so it won’t hurt any plants you want to keep.
Please take proper precautions when handling hot water like wearing long pants and shirt with close toed shoes and don’t forget your oven mitt!