Your garden is all planted, your seeds and transplants are off to a great start, and now all of your attention turns to one simple worry – how to stop garden weeds from taking over your garden – and your life this summer!
Weeding the garden is certainly a chore that very few gardeners would ever label as fun. Especially because for many, it seems like a never ending process. And one that gets more and more difficult with each passing week.
But keeping your garden free of weeds is extremely important. And not just so it can look pretty for your neighbors. Unfortunately, as weeds begin to grow and take hold in a garden, a lot of bad things begin to happen.
For starters, the weeds begin to absorb nutrients from the soil. And they just so happen to be the very same nutrients your vegetable plants need to grow strong, healthy, and most important of all, productive.
But it doesn’t stop there, weeds also steal moisture, oxygen and light from your plants. And if that wasn’t enough, they attract pests and disease to your garden space as well. All while frustrating you as you continue to pull, weed and repeat, week after week.
The End Of Garden Weeds…
Believe it or not, weeds don’t have to rule your garden or your life. In fact, with just a few simple tips and tricks, you really can stop garden weeds in their tracks. And in the process, not only have a beautiful weed-free garden, but amazing plants and a great harvest too!
Here is a look at 4 simple secrets that have worked wonders in our garden for years, and will help keep your garden weed free this growing season. And by the way, all of these tips will actually have you spending less time in your garden this year – not more!
4 Simple Ways To Stop Garden Weeds After Planting
#1 Mulch – The First Line Of Defense
Quite simply, bare soil in the garden is an open invitation for weeds to have a party in your garden.
Weed seeds are constantly being blown into the garden. And if that isn’t enough, they are also being brought in and deposited by birds, animals and insects too.
But those weed seeds can only become weeds if they germinate. And, they need to find a way to the soil surface in order to do that. And that is exactly where mulch performs its magic.
A good, thick application of mulch will keep future weed seeds from ever becoming an issue. For good. In fact, it can all but end the non-stop, never ending cycle of weeding that plagues most gardeners. But the key is using applying the right mulch in the right way!
Garden Mulching That Works!
What works best? We use a 6 to 8″ covering of straw around all of our growing rows to protect plants. The thick covering not only eliminates nearly all of our weeds and weeding chores, but it also help to regulate the soil temperature and moisture level for our plants as well.
If you can’t use straw, shredded leaves or grass clippings are a great alternative. All are organic mulches that break down over time to add even more strength to your soil.
The key is to use what you have available and plentiful – but whatever you do, cover that soil as a first line of defense to help stop garden weeds!
Check out our Podcast On The Secrets To A Weed Free Garden!
But mulching doesn’t just stop around in and around your plants. It can also be used in between your rows where you walk to eliminate even more garden chores.
#2 Stop Disturbing The Soil
Many gardeners spend countless hours tilling and re-tilling the walking areas between their plants. Not only is it time consuming, it also compacts the soil from all of the foot traffic.
Instead, mulch those areas with a thick coating of wood chips or leaves to eliminate having to maintain them at all. We use a heavy 6″ coating of bark chips between all of our growing rows to eliminate weeds.
The best part of all, the space never needs to be worked again – just add a bit more from year to year. You will be amazed at how much mulching can stop garden weeds from ever becoming a problem – all while freeing up more of your time. (See: How To Select The Right Mulch For Your Garden & Flowerbeds)
Speaking of working too hard, here is another time saving and weed eliminating tip: Hoeing and raking all of those weeds each week is actually causing your garden to have more weeds, not less.
Every time you turn the soil over, you are helping to plant the next generation of weeds. All of the seeds that been carried or blown into your garden are useless on the surface.
But as you hoe and rake around your plants, and till between the rows, your are helping to”plant” those seeds to become next week’s weeds.
It becomes a vicious cycle that only gets worse with each passing week. And it’s also why mulching is way better than tilling.
#3 Don’t Disturb The Mulch
Just like you shouldn’t disturb the soil by tilling or hoeing, that mulch layer needs to stay in place as well.
Turning, raking and disturbing the mulch layer is another great way to let all of those weed seeds laying on the surface find a home in the soil below.
This tip works just as well for the weeds in your flowerbeds too! Many folks like to turn or flip their mulch over every few weeks in their flowerbeds to keep it looking fresh.
Unfortunately, when that happens, guess what? All of those weed seeds that have been laying dormant on top of the mulch are now in the soil below.
Resist the temptation to flip your mulch in the garden and your flowerbeds. Instead, simply add a light coating on top if needed to freshen up or thicken up the protective layer. In essence, it’s working smarter, and not harder.
#4 5 Minutes A Day Goes A Long Way – How To Stop Garden Weeds
Finally, and quite honestly,one of the most important secrets of all for a weed-free garden is to take a consistent approach to maintaining your garden.
Whenever we speak at garden conferences, we love to talk about the 5 to 10 minute a day approach. And how it saves more time and work than you can ever imagine in your garden.
It’s simple. 5 to 10 minutes a day strolling in your garden to take care of a small weed here or there is a breeze. But if you add those 5 to 10 minutes up over a week, it comes out to about 35 to 70 total minutes. Not bad, right?
But let your garden space go for a week and head out and try to take care of the issues in 35 or 70 minutes and see what happens. The weeds and issues will have multiplied 10 fold. And suddenly, you will be spending hour after hour trying to catch up.
Be consistent. Head out every day, or every other day at the least and keep your garden and the weeds in check. Remember that today’s tiny weed can become tomorrows bigger weed. Even more, in a few days it can be come a large weed with hundreds of weed seeds!
You might just be amazed at how actually working less can help stop garden weeds more than working too hard. Here’s to less weeding, and more fun in the garden! Happy Gardening, Jim and Mary.
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