In vegetable gardens, flowerbeds and laws alike, weeds are obnoxious invaders of otherwise useful space. Whether your garden is an award-winning masterpiece or simply a personal pleasure, you’ll need to consistently work on weed control throughout the spring and summer months. Below is a list of popular and effective weed control options that work for most gardens.
Mulching helps keep weeds at bay by blocking light from getting to the soil. Mulch is fairly inexpensive. Bark, hay or even newspaper make effective mulch materials. Eventually, the mulch will decompose and require reapplication. Whichever mulch you choose, be sure it is clean and free of seeds that could exacerbate your weed problem.
Pros: Organic mulch helps feed your garden, keeps soil cool and prevents water evaporation.
Cons: Must be repeated often and can harbor weeds once decomposition starts.
Landscape fabric works similarly to mulch. It is a porous fabric that is laid over the soil and secured around desirable plants with stakes. Landscape fabric allows water to reach your plants, but blocks light from the surrounding soil. Many gardeners find it effective to use landscape fabric topped with mulch.
Pros: Effective and easy to install.
Cons: Reduces new shoots and, in turn, may reduce flowering on existing plants, costly for large applications.
Burning weeds can be effective in certain situations. The use of an outdoor torch can help remove weeds from tight spaces, such as between pavers, near fences and in sidewalk cracks. Burning doesn’t always kill seeds in the ground and prevent them from sprouting, but it is effective at killing weeds quickly with little physical effort.
Pros: Ideal for tight spaces, little physical effort required.
Cons: Not ideal for large expanses, torch can be dangerous if not handled properly.
Weeds will usually take advantage of any empty soil space in a garden. One tactic to control weeks is to simply not give them room to grow. Cover all available soil in your garden with groundcover plants for an attractive and low-maintenance method of crowding weeds out of your garden.
For lawns, make sure your grass is as healthy as possible by seeding in the fall, patching raw spots and regularly applying an organic fertilizer. You may not prevent 100 percent of the weeds in your lawn, but your grass will have a better fighting chance if it is given an optimal growing environment.
Pros: Environmentally friendly and attractive.
Cons: Time consuming and not practical for all garden aesthetics.
Chemical weed control substances, commonly called herbicides, come in two basic types. Non-selective herbicides will kill all plants, while selective herbicides are formulated to only kill certain weeds. Consult product labels for best application practices, such as timing and reapplication. Herbicides can be dangerous if used incorrectly and can have damaging effects on the environment and water runoff. For home use it is often desirable to explore other options before resorting the chemicals, especially in areas frequented by children and pets.
Pros: Effective, inexpensive.
Cons: Poisonous and must be used/stored with care, potentially dangerous to environment, not suitable for use around children and pets.
Unfortunately, weed prevention is not a one-time event. It must be done on an on-going basis with diligence and dedication. Truly weed free lawns and gardens are difficult to achieve, but getting a handle on weeds before they spread will ensure your grass and flowers are the dominant presence in your yard.