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best way to stop weeds from growing in your garden

Best way to stop weeds from growing in your garden

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.

Most weeds are easy to eradicate if spotted early enough and can be controlled without the use of chemicals.

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.

About weeds

Annual weed seeds can survive for years in the soil, waiting for the perfect conditions to grow. They germinate at lower temperatures than most garden plants and can grow and set seed very quickly. It’s important to recognise them at the seedling stage, so you can eliminate them without accidentally removing your flower or vegetable seedlings.

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Mowing too low weakens turf by reducing the ability of a grass leaf to produce enough nutrients. It also lets light hit the soil surface, which helps crabgrass and goosegrass seeds sprout and grow. Check with your local extension service for the recommended range of mowing heights for your grass type. Then mow at the highest level—usually between 2 and 4 inches.

In the process of trying to eliminate weeds, people often make mistakes that lead to more weeds. Here are the most common:

Spread Landscape fabric and cut it to fit around plants. Photo by Saxon Holt

6 Weeding Mistakes

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.

Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots and helps annual bluegrass, crabgrass, chickweed, sedges and other weed seeds germinate. If you water too little, the lawn suffers while spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, quackgrass and other weeds adapted to drier soil thrive. Instead, provide your lawn with infrequent, deep soakings. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to determine when you have applied 1 inch of water.

Any weeds that grow through mulch are easy to pull because the soil remains loose. Photo by Saxon Holt

Apply Preemergence Herbicides

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.

This Preemergence herbicide, made from corn gluten, is nontoxic. You can safely use it near all of your vegetables as well as around ornamental plants. Photo by Saxon Holt