As with most types of prevention, discouraging weed seeds from sprouting requires some extra time now so you can save a lot of time later.
Left unattended, weeds will quickly fill in unplanted areas and any open ground around plants. Mulch spread over the soil surface blocks the sunlight most annual weeds need to take hold. Weeds that do sprout are easy to pull because soil beneath mulch remains loose and moist. Coarse chipped or shredded bark is a good choice for large areas between trees and shrubs because it decomposes slowly and doesn’t easily blow away. For paths, a thick layer of sawdust provides good weed suppression because it depletes nitrogen in the soil.
Smother Weeds with Mulch
Yes, you can. Synthetic landscape fabrics provide a physical barrier to weeds yet allow air, water and nutrients through to plant roots. Spread the fabric over bare soil around trees and shrubs; overlap several inches of fabric at the seams. Anchor the material with U-shaped metal pins, then conceal it with 1 to 2 in. of mulch, such as stone or bark chips.
Does 32 ounces of vinegar mixed with 1/4 ounce of soap sound like an accurate mix
Good point about minding the gaps. Proper placement of plants is one of the best natural weed control methods. http://www.gardenerhack.com/5-weed-control-hacks-weed-free-garden/
Excellent info – but please, to be clear, the seed head illustrating #4 is Goldenrod, Not ragweed. There’s a Big difference, primarily that Goldenrod does Not produce Airborne pollen like ragweed does. And although Golden rod can and will get quite weedy, it is also a primary source of nectar for migrating monarch butterflies, so I always make sure I have plenty in my “Every-Man-For-Himself” garden. You know, the one where the tide waxes and wanes annually between the Goldenrod, the Beebalm and the Obedient plant 😉
When you can’t remove weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. With annual weeds, deadheading buys you a few weeks of time before the weed “seed rain” begins. Cutting back the tops of perennial weeds, like bindweed, reduces reseeding and forces them to use up food reserves and exhaust their supply of root buds, thus limiting their spread.
6. Water the plants you want, not the weeds you’ve got
Wow, that’s really useful, thanks to your website for sharing this!
Under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. In mulched beds, use an old steak knife to sever weeds from their roots, then patch any open spaces left in the mulch.
If you’re a new gardener—or you’re working in a wild and weedy space—the first season will likely be a rough one. Commit (and stick) to a weeding schedule, and don’t take on more space than you can manage. If you have more weeds than you can handle, keep weedy areas mowed until you’re ready to conquer them.
5. Mind the gaps between plants
I find fabric just gets in the way. The weeds will root on top of the soil regardless of whether fabric is down or not. I find a good layer of mulch, 3-4 inches thick, weeding by hand, making sure to get the roots, works best. Mulch will feed the plants as it breaks down, keep the bed cool, and retain moisture when it rains.
Drip irrigation is the way to go for a quick way to water your plants and not your weeds. Watering by hand works, too, but it’s often tedious. Photo: Steve Aitken