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how to prevent weeds from growing in mulch

How to prevent weeds from growing in mulch

Use several layers of old newspaper in place of black plastic weed barrier if you want a more environmentally friendly way to reduce weed growth through your mulch. Lay the newspaper down and cover with a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch. You’ll have to replace the newspaper and mulch more often, however, because the newspaper will biodegrade over time. Fabric weed barriers are another option, though they aren’t always as effective as plastic in preventing weeds from growing.

Cut small “X” shapes into the weed barrier if you want to plant new plants in the area before laying the mulch. Dig a hole in each “X” shape and place one plant inside each hole.

Rake the area smooth and remove any old mulch, rocks or debris that could poke a hole in your weed barrier.

Spread a layer of black plastic weed barrier over the planting area. If you already have plants growing in the area, cut holes in the black plastic to fit over them.

Things You Will Need

Weeds are the enemy of gardeners around the country. These pesky plants decrease the beauty of your yard and rob vital moisture and nutrients from your flowers, vegetables and lawn. Mulch helps minimize weeds but also retains more moisture and helps moderate the temperature of your soil. The trick to keeping weeds from growing through your mulch is to put a layer of weed barrier underneath.

Pull up any weeds that are already growing in the area you want to mulch. Use a trowel to help you remove the roots of the weeds, which will decrease how many try to grow back.

Black plastic weed barrier

Warning

Overlap the strips of black plastic weed barrier so weeds can’t sneak their way through the edges of the material.

Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the entire surface of the black plastic weed barrier. Spread the mulch over the edges of the weed barrier so the black plastic doesn’t show.

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

Think it’s an overstatement to call it the war against weeds? Here’s what you’re up against.

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

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.

Mow Higher

Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
Box 1780
Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780
800/871-8158
Telescoping Crack Weeder

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.

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True Temper Hardware
Box 8859
Camp Hill, PA 17011
800/393-1846
Scuffle hoe

Too little fertilizer can lead to sparse lawn that loses the competition with weeds. Too much helps nurture certain weeds, notably annual bluegrass, Bermuda grass and crabgrass. Strike a balance by following the application rates on the package. And use a fertilizer with a high percentage of controlled-release nitrogen, such as sulfur-coated urea, ureaform or IBDU. These provide a slow, steady nutrient supply.

How to prevent weeds from growing in mulch

It isn’t possible to keep weeds from growing indefinitely but you can keep them at bay for long periods of time. Just use your weed barrier before placing your mulch and you’ll be in a good position.

Read on to learn about how you can stop weeds from growing in mulch. You’ll figure out how to handle this problem efficiently so that you can get back to enjoying your gardens.

You might be worried about your plants and whether this barrier will negatively impact them. It’s easy to take steps to allow your plants to grow through this barrier.

The best thing to do is to go ahead and remove those weeds completely. You need to take a trowel and start pulling up the weeds by the roots. This might be a bit time-consuming but the results will be worth it once you see how things look later on.

Making Your Own Environmentally Friendly Weed Barrier

It’s nice to know that you can still make use of a weed barrier without having to compromise your environmental stance. Overall, the newspaper method works very well and stacks up nicely against the commercial weed barriers.

It might seem as if it is a real pain to have to take your mulch up just to remove weeds. This is why it’s best to do this before you ever lay mulch down so that you don’t have to take extra steps.

Many gardeners also cut these “X” holes in their weed barriers for plants that they have just planted from seeds. You could cut “X” shapes where the new plants are supposed to go and everything should be fine. It’s easy to do and it generally isn’t going to add much time to this little project.

Ensure That You Remove Weeds Completely

Now you get to figure out the best trick for keeping weeds from sprouting up through your mulch. You want to install what is known as a weed barrier on your soil before you lay down your mulch.

The only problem is that sometimes you will notice that weeds will start growing in your mulch. If you are seeing weeds sprout up through your mulch, then you’re going to need to take action to turn things around.