If you have a garden, you will need a plan to manage its weeds. There are a number of ways to manage weeds without poison or chemicals. Think about these ideas and create a weeding plan that uses the methods that work best for you and your garden.
Weeding by Hand
Hand weeding is good for weeds that are interspersed in a lawn, or in a growing bed. Catch them in the spring when they are young and they will be easier to pull out by hand. If the roots have taken hold, put on your garden gloves and use a weeder tool. Dig down and apply leverage to pull out the weed. For more tenacious weeds, use a hoe. Hoeing removes the weeds at the soil level and also helps to loosen up and aerate the soil.
For weed prevention, use mulch. Once your bed is planted, lay down 2 to 3 inches of the mulch of your choice. This will help prevent weeds from coming up and, when they do, they will be much easier to pull out as mulch is looser than compacted soil. You can also put down mulch in the fall to help inhibit spring growth of weeds.
Fight Weeds with the Sun
If you have a large, weedy patch of land that you are trying to re-landscape, use the sun to cook weeds. Cut down the weeds, till and water the soil. Cover the soil with sturdy black plastic, like garbage bags, held down with rocks and leave in the hot sun for 5 to 6 weeks to dry out. This will also kill seeds and plant pathogens. Rake the area to remove any leftover weeds and seeds and prepare the area for planting.
Use Non-chemical Herbicides
You can also use natural, non-chemical herbicides such as corn gluten and vinegar to kill weeds that are not in the middle of lawns or planting beds. Corn gluten inhibits the growth of seeds so don't use in beds where you plan to grow plants from seeds. Vinegar can be sprayed on weeds full strength. Or pour boiling water on them to kill them.
Remove the Whole Weed
When removing weeds you always want to dig down deep enough so that all the roots are removed, including the main taproot if there is one. If the weed is dry and at the point of scattering seeds, like foxtails, do your best to capture the seeds as well. That's why it is better to pull them in the spring before they dry out.
More Weeding Tips
- Don't leave pulled weeds lying in the garden or they may resprout. Dispose of them with your green waste.
- Do not put pulled weeds in your compost as they may find a new growth medium there and take over.
- Don't have large patches of prepared soil in your garden without plants. This is conducive to weed growth as is already full of nutrients. Plant a ground cover to crowd out the weeds or cover bare areas with mulch.
- In the spring, inspect your garden once a week for new weeds and get rid of them.
- If you want to use landscape fabric to help prevent weeds as you prepare a new garden bed, consult with your garden specialist.