Most weeds are easy to eradicate if spotted early enough and can be controlled without the use of chemicals.
On this page
A weed is technically just a plant in the wrong place. It could be an unwanted seedling from another plant, or something more pernicious and invasive that you really want to eradicate. However, while you’ll never be able to completely stop weeds from popping up, there are ways to ensure they have less places to grow.
Bare patches of soil will quickly be colonised by both annual and perennial weeds, so a well-stocked border is less likely to support a thriving population of these pesky plants. If you have gaps in your borders, plug them by planting ground covering plants.
Check the label to determine if it is safe for use around the kinds of landscape plants you have and effective against the weeds normally present.
Tips on how to keep weeds out of the garden, add the right amount of mulch over weeds, and 6 mistakes to avoid to keep your garden weed-free.
Preemergence herbicides, such as those containing oryzalin or trifluralin (look on the label for these chemicals), or nontoxic corn gluten meal, kill weeds just as they germinate and will not eradicate established weeds. For a preemergence herbicide to be effective, you must apply it to soil cleared of visible weeds; also, you have to water most of these herbicides into the soil.
How to Mulch Over Weeds
A single redroot pigweed is able to produce up to 30,000 seeds in a season. And those seeds can remain alive in the soil for 70 years waiting to sprout and overrun your perennial border at any time.
Any weeds that grow through mulch are easy to pull because the soil remains loose. Photo by Saxon Holt
Share this story
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.
Weeds can’t survive without moisture. In areas with little or no summer rain, drip irrigation or soaker hoses help prevent weed seeds from sprouting by depriving them of water. These systems deliver water to the root zone of plants at the soil level. The soil surface and area surrounding the plants stays relatively dry. In contrast, overhead sprinkler systems spray water over the entire soil surface and supply both garden plants and weeds with water.
I also plant my vegetables intensively. High-intensity planting means seeding or transplanting crops close together. You don’t want them to compete for sun, water, and nutrients, so read seed packets to discover recommended planting distances. You do, however, want them to grow densely with healthy root systems so they can choke out weeds.
Cover crops are a sneaky way to reduce weeds as well as build soil. If you have a new garden site and want to reduce the weeds, you can plant a fast growing, dense cover crop like buckwheat which is often affectionally called a ‘smother crop’ for its ability to crowd out weeds. It’s also is a great soil builder when tilled or dug into the soil. Just be sure to cut cover crops down before they set seeds. You can also use perennial cover crops like clover as pathway plants between raised beds to reduce weeds and entice pollinators.
3 – Mulch mulch mulch for a weed free garden
Does a weed free garden sound like a dream? It IS possible to reduce weeds in flower and vegetable beds with a few simple strategies. I’ve been putting these techniques to work in my large vegetable garden for many years and while I wouldn’t call my garden completely weed free, I’ve cut my weeding time dramatically. Read on to learn my nine strategies for reducing garden weeds.
Have you ever bought or been given a new plant only to discover there were weed roots or seeds hiding in the soil? That’s how I got goutweed in my flower border. Frustrating! Before you introduce new plants to your garden, give them a good ‘once over’. Check the soil surface for any signs of weeds and if they came from a neighborhood plant sale, which can increase your chances of weeds, break apart the root ball. I’ve learned what goutweed roots look like (fleshy, white or light brown that break apart easily) and checking the soil allows me to inspect for invasive weeds like goutweed.
4 – Check and inspect!
In small spaces, you can also plant annual flowers, vegetables, and herbs in containers. There are many types of containers available at garden centres and online in a wide selection of sizes, styles, and materials. When you garden in pots you’re planting in sterilized potting mix, not garden soil and that means fewer weeds.