So the sun is shining, you have all your garden furniture out, your plants are in full bloom but unfortunately everywhere you turn there are dreaded weeds. Keeping your flowerbeds and garden weed free is always an uphill battle but with some strategic planning you will prevail. But first, you need to understand how weeds work and what exactly you are dealing with.
So, what are weeds? Weeds are plants just like any other plants in your garden. They require sunlight, nutrition and water. Weeds tend to grow from either seed or they reproduce from roots. Root grown weeds tend to be more difficult to control as roots grow outwards from the main plant and new plants start sprouting, creating more main or parent plants. This is how they thrive! There are always a few billion weed seeds drifting through the air at any given time, so don’t think that you can rid a garden of weed seed.
Out of the three essential elements required for weeds to thrive, the easiest one for a gardener to eliminate is sunlight. Mulching is a great way to eliminate sunlight however before you start doing this it is essential that you eliminate the weeds first before laying down the mulch. There are two methods, organically and chemically. The organic method involves using a spade or any other digging device. You will need to undercut the roots and remove the weeds, roots and all. Then you will need to work the soil by turning the soil by hand. Let the soil sit for a few days or so, and work it again. Keep repeating this as long as time permits as this process serves two purposes. It brings the roots that were left in the soil close to the surface so they can be dried by the sun and it disturbs the weed seeds that have started to germinate. The longer you continue this process the more weeds you are eliminating from your garden. Once you are satisfied you have prepared the ground sufficiently, you can start planting. When you’re done planting you can either mulch the bed, or keep turning the soil on a weekly basis to keep it free of weeds. Mulching is easier and will help control the weeds. You will need to get some weed barrier fabric sold at garden centres, lay that down and place the mulch over top of that. Some people use plastic however Weed barrier fabrics allow the soil to breathe whilst plastic blocks the transfer of water and oxygen. Eventually your soil will suffer as will your garden.
Chemical Weed Control
Controlling weeds with chemicals is easy and if carried out correctly is very effective. Always make sure you read the labels and follow the safety instructions! Depending on the brand some weed killers are applied over top of the mulch and some are applied to the soil before the mulch is laid down. A pre-emergent herbicide creates a vapour barrier at the soil level that stops weed seed germination and can be very effective at keeping your gardens weed free. These weed killers tend to only last about 5 or 6 months so they will need to be re-applied.