Everyone loves a garden filled with flowers. What we don’t like are those plants that grow where they’re not wanted. You know the ones – weeds. There is nothing more frustrating than the constant battle to eliminate weeds in garden beds. It is possible to keep weeds to a minimum with a little persistence. Keeping your flower beds relatively weed-free makes your job as a gardener easier and helps keep your plants healthy. The best way to keep weeds to a minimum is to use all of the methods at your disposal.
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Keep Weeds Out Of The Garden
Weeds have nowhere to grow if you plant every inch of your flower beds with your chosen plants. Forget about creating space in your plot, instead fill every available space between your flowers with ground cover plants to weave in and out in their midst. Plant flowers close together. Dig deeper so that roots have room to grow down rather than outwards.
Prevention is better than cure, even in the garden. Make sure the soil you’re going to use is free of weeds. Thick plantings of annuals and perennials are the method of crowding out and preventing weeds. Dense plantings help conserve moisture in the soil, meaning less watering time. As late summer and fall approach, divide and split overgrown perennials to fill in open spaces. Examine plants you buy to ensure they aren’t small weeds growing along with the plants, and if there are, scrape them away before planting the flowers. Make sure any mulch, compost, or organic matter you use is well-aged, so weed seeds have died.
Weeds can establish themselves in a flower bed rather quickly because there is relatively little competition. There is plenty of open area with freshly disturbed soil, which is perfect for weeds to grow.
In contrast, weeds have a much more difficult time establishing themselves in a well-maintained lawn because the grass is so tightly packed and allows for little else to grow between the plants. Problems can arise when weeds have established themselves in a flower bed next to a well-maintained lawn.
The best way to keep weeds in your flowerbed from invading your lawn is to keep weeds and weed seeds out of your flower bed to begin with.
- Thoroughly weed your flower bed to remove as many of the weeds as possible.
- Lay down a pre-emergent in weed killer your flower beds and lawn.
- Add a plastic border to the edges of your flower bed. Make sure the plastic can be pushed into the ground at least 2 to 3 inches to prevent any weed runners escaping the flower bed.
Newspaper Kills Weeds
Newspapering your weeded flower garden is one cheap, easy way to keep out unwanted weeds by denying them light. Get rid of existing weeds before laying 8 to 10 sheets of stacked newspaper. If you run out, wet cardboard is just as effective. Then cover with mulch. There are numerous benefits:
- Recycle old papers.
- Newspaper conditions soil, leaving it soft and loose for next year’s planting.
- Grow a nice crop of earthworms for your garden.
- Cheaper than landscape fabric.
Mulch smothers weeds and helps soil retain moisture. Bare soil is an open invitation to weeds and weed seeds.To just lay mulch isn’t enough. It also needs to be put down and maintained correctly to help eliminate future weeds from your flower beds. Use a layer of 4 to 6 inches of organic material to prevent weeds from growing. Mulch in flower beds should be kept to a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of depth at all times. Don’t rake the mulch. Every time you go out and ‘freshen’ up the look of your mulch, you replant weed seeds that have been lying dormant on the surface. Adding a thin layer of mulch to freshen up beds is better than turning your mulch.
Heating the soil to kill weeds and weed seeds works before you plant flowers in the garden if you have a large area and plenty of time. Till the soil in the bed, rake it smooth, water it and cover it with clear, heavy-gauge plastic, weighted down at the edge so it stays in place. Ensure the area around it stays moist. It will take about 8 weeks for the soil to heat enough to kill weed seeds.
Weeding A Garden
Weeding by hand is most effective when you get the entire root, and remove them before they have a chance to flower and spread seeds. Be diligent about weeding on a regular basis, and try to remove very small weed seedlings before they grow large by simply scratching the surface of the soil on a hot day with a hoe or pronged fork weeder. The sun will quickly dry out the small seedlings and their roots. For weeds with very deep roots or rhizomes that resprout with any portion left in the ground, continually cut the plants as low as possible. Eventually, after 9 to 13 bouts of weeding over two years, you’ll eradicate the weeds.
Always sterilise your weeding tools with rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipes after each weeding session to help ensure that you don’t transfer weed seeds or diseases from one part of your garden to another.
How To Get Rid Of Weeds, A Last Resort
You may want to use chemicals to kill the weeds in your flower beds, but there is a risk is that you might damage or kill your flowers along with the weeds and possibly harm birds or pets with toxic poisons. Begin with the most benign products, such as those containing vinegar or other acid-based liquids, corn gluten meal or herbicidal soaps, and apply them as directed on the packages. Then try other chemical herbicides designed specifically for the weeds in your garden and use them exactly the way manufacturers direct.