Believe it or not, if you really want to eliminate garden weeds, you need to stop working so hard!

eliminate garden weeds
Fresh tilled soil may look beautiful, but it is an open invitation to weed seeds!

It may sound a bit odd, but many of the weeding problems faced by gardeners are a result of working the soil in the garden too much. Weed seeds need to be “planted” –  just like beans, corn, or tomato seeds do. Unfortunately, weed seeds are constantly being blown or carried into your garden from all over. Dandelions, Canadian thistle, and a host of other weed seeds make their way to the top of your garden soil daily.

And every time you disturb the soil, whether by tilling, shoveling or hoeing – you are planting your next crop of weed seeds. It really becomes a vicious cycle – you hoe or till to get rid of the seeds that have sprouted, and you plant the next round.

So with that said, it’s time to stop working so hard. There are two simple keys to eliminate garden weeds, and they both center on keeping those weed seeds from ever getting planted in the first place. Once you eliminate the weeds – your work load gets cuts in half or more. And your vegetable yields will go up.

But I’m sure that most gardeners are okay with the added work load of a little more harvesting. Especially if they don’t have to work all those hours on weeding! 🙂  We have used the two methods below for going on 7 years now with fantastic results.

So let’s take a look a closer look a the two keys to eliminate garden weeds.

2 Simple Ways To Eliminate Garden Weeds – By Working LESS!

#1. Stop Tilling and Hoeing Your Rows So Much

The rototiller. It may be the most prolific planter of weeds in the history of gardening.

eliminate garden weeds
The rototiller – the world’s best weed planter

O.K.- I am probably being a bit harsh on the rototiller. It actually is a terrific tool for ripping up sod and preparing soil for new garden areas. But beyond that, rototillers actually create way more work and problems for a gardener. And in a raised row garden set-up, there is simply no need for one. See : Raised Row Garden

Not only are they expensive to buy, maintain and use, they are weed planting machines.

When they are used in the spring to till up large plots of ground, rototillers are also planting huge amounts of weed seeds that have been laying dormant on the surface of the soil all winter long. And the weed cycle begins.

Once the garden is planted, most of a gardener’s work is spent keeping weeds out of those freshly tilled rows. That means using that tiller again every few days to till under the weeds in the rows, and then using hoe to go between the plants. That is A LOT OF WORK!  And guess what, it creates more. That rototiller and hoe are simply stirring up and planting more weed seeds.

One last thing. All of that work can also cause other issues with your garden. For starters, soil structure plays a huge part in the success of your vegetable plants. Constant tilling can destroy good soil structure. And with it, the foot traffic trudging behind a tiller can compact and limit the root systems of the vegetable plants.

So rule number one – stop working that soil so much! Now, on to rule number 2 that puts it all together.

#2 Cover Your Soil – Always!

So how do you stop working your soil so much? By covering it. It really is that simple. When soil is covered, very few seeds can ever find a way to germinate.

eliminate garden weeds
We cover our walking rows in wood bark chips, and the growing rows in compost and straw to eliminate garden weeds

During the growing season, start by covering all of those walking rows so you simply won’t ever have to maintain them. For us, we use a heavy 6″ thick coating of bark chips. But it can be straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, newspaper, cardboard, plastic row covers, or even a cover crop.

Next, mulch around your plants to keep the weed seeds out. We use a heavy 2 to 3″ mulching of compost and straw in our growing rows. It keeps out weeds and the compost provides nutrients to the plants. You could also use straw, shredded leaves or even grass clippings. But when it’s covered – there are simple very few weed problems ever.

And for the final step – cover your growing rows in the fall as well with a thick planting of a cover crop.  See: Planting Cover Crops

Leaving any garden soil bare over the winter is an open invitation to create next years weed issues. And those cover crops also help put nutrients back into your soil that the vegetable crop took out.

These two simple steps not only help you grow a great garden, but really eliminate the weeds and work.

So put away the tiller, put down a little mulch and grab your favorite beverage. Now sit down and watch the weeds not grow!

Happy Gardening – Jim & Mary. If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, you can sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.  This article may contain affiliate links.

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6 thoughts on “2 Simple Ways To Eliminate Garden Weeds This Year – By Working LESS!

  • April 11, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I know you left your cover crops in place last season and just planted within them. However, in other cases, do you still till in your cover crops in the spring?

    • April 12, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Hi Julie,
      I re-read the above article several times to make sure I don’t miss a bet…..That said what I understand is that when you get ready to plant your vegetables, you convert the cover crop into mulch.
      Mulch in and around your plants….
      The mulch will stop the cover crop from growing after it’s completely covered over with mulch. The only living thing above the mulch will be your vegetable plant. Anything below will be converted to mulch and eventually dye off.

      Please anybody….If I misunderstood the article, correctly me.

      Commodore Collins
      Paragonah, UT

      • April 12, 2017 at 8:55 am

        Absolutely correct Commodore! Thanks for answering as well, it has been a busy week here with spring planting! 🙂

  • March 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Hi Jim & Mary,
    Oh So True…Years ago we lived in a farming community, mostly Japanese Americans who migrated to the USA around the turn of the 20th century. They never hoed weeds, they pulled the weeds by hand while the weeds were tiny just sprouting. They said hoeing the weeds just replanted the weed seed. They were very successful vegetable farmers. Their farms looked like large, giant manicured gardens that spread over several acres of ground. Everything was precisely done and looked beautiful.

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