Looking to have a weed free garden but don’t want to spend countless hours in your garden weeding, hoeing, tilling and working your fingers to the bone to stop weeds? Well, believe it or not, it is 100% possible. Even better, it’s easier than you could ever imagine!
How can I keep weeds from coming back again and again in my vegetable garden? What can I do to cut down on how many hours I have to weed? Is there any way to have fewer weeds without having to constantly run my rototiller through the paths of my garden?
Each and every week during the growing season, we get hundreds of emails from gardeners on the topic of weeds. Obviously, it can be extremely frustrating for gardeners to deal with them. Especially when they seem to come back so quickly, over and over again.
Weeds can turn a gorgeous garden into an eyesore in a few weeks or less. Not only do they create an untidy appearance, weeds also steal valuable nutrients from the soil and away from your plants. Unfortunately, weeds compete for the same vital resources (water, nutrients, light and oxygen) that vegetable plants need.
Don’t Let Weeds Take Hold…
When weeds are allowed to take hold and take over, they can keep yields down, affect the health of plants, and and even allow pests a greater opportunity to take hold.
But here is the good news, it’s not difficult to keep weeds out. In fact, by simply following the few simple tips below, you really can have a weed free garden. All without countless hours of work, weeding or frustration.
We know this because we have been implementing these simple strategies for over a decade now with weed free success. In two simple words, they work!
3 Easy Tips That Stop Weeds – How To Have A Weed Free Garden
1) Never Allow Your Soil To Be Bare – Ever!
If there is one basic thing you can do to eliminate almost all of your garden weeding woes, it is to cover your soil. In the spring. In the summer. And yes, even in the fall and all throughout the winter!
Bare soil equals weeds, and a lot of them. It allows blowing and drifting weed seeds to easily find a home. It also allows any weeds that are present to spread like wildfire. But when you cover the soil, unless a seed or transplant is purposely planted underneath, all of those weed seeds simply sit on top of the soil, unable to sprout.
So what is the best way to cover the soil? During the spring, summer and early fall growing months, it is with a thick layer of mulch. And in late fall, we plant a cover crop of annual rye or oats to keep the soil covered all winter long.
A heavy layer of mulch suppresses existing weeds and weed seeds already in the soil. In addition, it also helps to insulate your vegetable plants. Even better, it helps them to retain valuable moisture too. Finally, that thick layer of mulch keeps any new weed seeds that find a path into your garden from ever germinating.
How Much Mulch Is Enough? – How To Have A Weed Free Garden
We use a four to six inch layer of shredded bark in our walking paths. And in the growing rows where we plant, we use a thick four inch layer of either straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves – or a combination of all three.
Keeping the soil covered at all times all but eliminates weeds from ever becoming established and makes maintaining the space simple. In fact, these days, we spend less than 5 to 10 minutes a day in our garden keeping weeds under control. And trust me when I say that keeps the “fun” in gardening!
2) Stop Tilling, Raking & Hoeing Your Soil – How To Have A Weed Free Garden
Most of the weeding problems faced by gardeners result from working too much. Yes, you read that correctly. Simply put, the soil in most gardens is overworked and disturbed way too much. Not only does it create more weeds, it also leads to less than healthy soil.
There are a host of weed seeds sitting on top of the soil. All are just waiting for a chance to be “planted” below. And every time you till, hoe or dig into the soil, you are literally planting your next crop of weeds.
When a garden is tilled in the spring – a huge crop of weed seeds are planted in the wake of that tilling. The same goes for running a rototiller or hoeing by hand to dig out weeds during the growing season. The more you turn the soil, the more weed seeds you plant.
It becomes a never-ending cycle of tilling, hoeing and re-tilling and hoeing. All in an effort to eliminate the newly sprouted weeds planted from the previous tilling or hoeing. Put away the tiller, stop hoeing weeds – and mulch your garden deep. It works!
#3 A Consistent Approach – How To Have A Weed Free Garden
Last but not least, if you really want to end the constant barrage of weeds in your garden – visit it regularly! There is nothing more important than taking a consistent approach in maintaining your garden!
Just as in life, if you let things get ahead of you, problems will multiply quickly. The same goes for your garden and weeds. If you truly want a weed-free garden, a consistent approach is a must. Take the time to walk through your garden every day for five to ten minutes.
Remember that spending 70 minutes once a week in the garden is not the same as spending 10 minutes each and every day. A few small weeds today that can be plucked in seconds can turn into a mass of weeds in a week. By simply keeping mulch in place and taking any small weed starts out each day, your garden can and will stay healthy and weed free!
Here it to making this the year you create the perfect weed free garden – and enjoy the fruits of it all summer long like never before. Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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