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How to Reduce Weeding

trowel1web
My favorite weeding tool.

The gardening season is ON, which means we’re all busy weeding.  Here are some of my favorite ways to reduce the job..

  • Remove the weeds as soon as you see them.  If you don’t, they’ll accumulate and possibly become an overwhelming job.  Even worse, they’ll be harder to remove AND they’ll seed around.  We’re talking hundreds or thousands more weed seeds in your beds.
  • Ditto removing weeds from the lawn before they go to seed – because the wind will carry them to the beds.
  • Mulch is our friend.  A good 2-3 inches will prevent the germination of weed seeds that land on the beds, while also helping to retain moisture.  But back to the weed-prevention reason.  I recommend against using compost as mulch because it’s the perfect medium for weed seeds to germinate in.
  • Plant close together or at least let the plants grow together.  This makes it difficult for weeds to thrive or get sunlight.
  • Use weed-free soil.  I’m a fan of amending the existing soil but if there’s NO topsoil (post-construction, for example) and you’re bringing in garden soil, bagged soil will be weed-free, a good start.
  • If you have bare soil for a while, planting a cover crop like clover, vetch or annual ryegrass will create a weed barrier, and you can later dig the plants into the soil, where they’ll be used as fertilizer.
  • Water only the plants you want watered, not the entire bed.  Drip irrigation or hand-watering around the base of your plants means depriving weed seeds in other parts of the beds of needed water.
  • Corn gluten meal can be applied to lawns in February when the forsythias are blooming to keep weed seeds (in fact, all seeds) from germinating, and it can be used in beds, too.  If used any other time, it won’t prevent weeds but it will add Nitrogen to your plants.  As a weed preventer, I’m told that it works partially in the first year, close to completely by the third year.
  • If you compost yard waste, compost it completely before adding the compost to your beds – to make sure the weed seeds are killed.  A good compost thermometer will ensure it’s hot enough.
  • Love some weeds.  A weed is really just a plant that’s growing where you don’t want it to, but hey, they’re free and they’re there already.  So I give weeds a close look to determine if I really can’t stand them in my garden or if, like the evening primrose and clover in seen below, I actually like them and can let them stay.

IMG_8740

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Dandelions are another weed that people are giving a second look.  I’ve come to like them in bloom, especially whole fields of them, but when it comes to the plain foliage, I’m not quite there yet.

Tips I Ignore

  • Some sources suggest installing black plastic or landscape fabric under the mulch but I don’t like the look of either, and eventually it seems that they always show.
  • Herbicides work, but I only use them for plants between bricks or growing in other other tight spots where they can’t be dug up.
celandinepopyApril420
Wood poppies arrived in my woodland garden as weeds. Love them!

Posted by Susan Harrris.

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