Weeds, they’re the bane of every gardener and waste countless hours of valuable time. A weed free garden is every gardener’s dream, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of work to achieve. Today, we’ll look at 7 tips to help you manage your garden’s weeds and keep a weed free garden all summer long.
First off, it’s important to realize that every inch of your garden’s soil has thousands of weed seeds ready to spring up. Most of these are buried deep and won’t germinate, but that doesn’t mean they won’t wait patiently for years to do so.
That’s why it’s important to minimize how much you dig and till in your garden. The more soil you toss up, the more likely you are to accidentally give some seeds a new shot at life. You want to be surgical when digging, and do your best to disturb as little soil as possible. This will limit the chances to bring seeds up into habitable soil where they’ll get light and grow.
Be Proactive in Pulling Them
Next, you want to make sure that you’re proactively managing the weeds in your garden. It’s a good idea to get out there and pull weeds as soon as you see them start to spring up. Weeds easily spread which leads to more weeds, so the quicker you can remove them the easier it will be to manage them in the long term.
It’s also much easier to deal with small batches than waiting for it to get bad. 5 minutes a day is much more manageable than having to spend an hour clearing them out once they get bad. Even if you follow all the tips listed here you’ll still probably have some weeds, so don’t be shy in pulling those that do get through.
Mulch is a gardeners best friend, and is key to stopping weeds. A good layer of mulch deprives the soil of sunlight, which will prevent the majority of weeds of germinating. It’s a good idea to put down fresh mulch every 3-4 years or when you start to notice that it’s not as nice as it used to be. For depth, look to add 2-3 inches of mulch to prevent weed growth.
Some mulch also includes herbicide which can be a positive or a negative. While the herbicide does help prevent new weeds, it can also be harmful to edible plants. Always read the directions before using herbicide treated mulch on your plants.
Used Raised Beds and Containers
If possible, plant your garden in raised beds or use containers. These are much easier to care for, and will give weeds a lot less opportunity to spread. You’re also likely to replace the soil each year which only further helps reduce the spread of weeds.
Take Advantage of Ground Cover
One problem many gardeners face is weeds popping up in the areas between plants. You usually don’t want to put plants right on top of eachother, but spreading plants out opens up prime real estate for weeds to take up.
As noted above, mulch is a great way to prevent this, but you can also look to ground cover plants. Plants like vinca will often grow enough to block out light to weeds, while at the same time not infringing on your other plants. This is a mulch free way to keep weeds out of your garden.
You can also cut these plants back and leave them as a natural fertilizer in the soil.
Use a Weed Barrier
Weed barriers are another option that people have mixed opinions on. While some claim they work great others complain about still getting weeds and water not actually penetrating.
With that in mind, my personal experience has been that weed barriers work fairly well for shallow root plants. Lettuce as an example typically has very shallow roots and works quite well with a good quality weed barrier. Deep root plants might have a bit of an issue with the barrier blocking their growth. Your mileage may vary here, but it’s always an option.
Lastly, remember that whenever you water your plants you’re also watering your weeds. When possible, make sure to direct your water and try to only get the areas around the plant. This can help keep moisture levels low in non-growing parts of your soil, which in turn can help stop weeds from taking hold too quickly.
You also invest in an irrigation system that can be setup to only water your plants and always on schedule. Obviously rain will go where it wants, but there’s no reason you need to contribute to that.
Weed Free Garden
With the above information you should hopefully be able to keep the weeds at bay in your garden. It’s always important to be vigilant, one good rain is all it takes to have the weeds roaring back. Stay on top of your garden maintenance and you’ll enjoy a beautiful, weed free garden.