Are you looking for a few tips and tricks to stop weeds from sprouting up in your garden over and over again – all summer long?
If there is one thing that frustrates gardeners more than anything else when it comes to gardening – it’s weeds. Weeds are far more than just an eyesore. As living, growing plants, weeds also consume valuable nutrients and moisture from the soil. The same nutrients and moisture your vegetable plants need to grow strong and produce.
If all that wasn’t enough, weeds can also harbor pests and disease. And both can make an easy jump to your plants. Even worse, as any gardener will tell you, once weeds show up, they seem to spread like wildfire. In fact, once they take hold, it can seem almost impossible to conquer them. But guess what? You can gain the upper hand – and even better, it can be easy to do so for good!
Working Smarter, Not Harder – How To Stop Weeds In A Garden For Good
Believe it or not, maintaining a weed free garden doesn’t require massive amounts of labor or effort. In fact, as you will see below, you actually have a much better chance of eliminating both weeds and the need to constantly weed by simply working less!
Sound impossible? It’s not! Visitors to our farm’s vegetable garden are always surprised when we tell them we spend an average of five to ten minutes total in our garden each day – and yet have zero issue with weeds.
Controlling weeds for good all comes down to eliminating a few weed causing methods – and then implementing a few additional methods that will keep weeds from ever coming back. With weed eliminating success in mind – here is a look at four key things you can do to keep weeds out forever this year.
4 Big Secrets To Stop Weeds In Your Garden For Good
1) Don’t Till Your Garden
The first secret on this list may surprise some gardeners, but believe it or not, using a rototiller to till your garden is one of the best ways to fill your garden with more weeds than ever!
An annual spring ritual for many is to till their garden to prepare it for planting. But all fall and winter long, weed seeds have been blowing in and piling up on top of your garden’s soil. And all of those seeds are simply waiting for a chance to be “planted” in the soil below.
A rototiller does an incredibly good job at doing just that – planting all of the weeds seeds as it flips the soil over. And within weeks, the garden is filled with sprouting weeds. Unfortunately, many continue to fire up the tiller and continue to till under weeds all season long in between rows. Unfortunately, it only helps in creating even more weeds than ever before.
It becomes a never-ending chore and cycle that is not only a huge waste of time and resources, but also one that destroys a soil’s health. The plain and simple fact is tilling is not good for the soil. Repeated tilling not only kills earthworms and other soil organisms that give life to it, it also destroys the soil’s structure.
As you will see below, by implementing a few more of the “secrets” that are to follow in the article – you will never need to till again.
#2 Mulch, Mulch & More Mulch – How To Stop Weeds In Your Garden For Good
So if you shouldn’t till your garden, how do you get rid of all of those weeds? The answer is mulch – and a lot of it! As it turns out, mulching a garden correctly is one of the easiest and most effective methods for creating a weedless and healthy garden.
The simple truth is that bare soil is asking for weeds to take over. Bare soil allows blowing and drifting weed seeds to find a home. A home where they can sprout and put down roots.
But when you use mulch to protect the soil, the seeds that find their way into a garden can’t find an easy path to the soil. Instead, they lay harmlessly on top without the ability to germinate. Especially if you keep the tiller out of your garden!
A heavy layer of mulch does so much good for your garden. In addition to stopping new weeds, it also helps suppress existing weeds and weed seeds already buried in the soil below. Even more, it insulates the soil and helps to retain moisture – both of which are huge keys in helping vegetable plants develop to their maximum potential.
In our garden, we actually use a combination of mulch to help both stop weed and power the soil and plants. It’s actually at the core of our low-maintenance Raised Row Gardening technique, one that creates better yields with tremendously less work! See: How To Create A No Till Raised Row Garden – Garden Easy!
Listen To Our Podcast On How To Create The Perfect Raised Row Garden With Ease
In our walking rows we use a heavy 4 to 6 inch layer of shredded bark. It eliminates weeds for good and we never have to worry about taking care of that specific non-growing space again.
In the growing rows, we use a combination of compost topped with straw, grass clippings or shredded leaves. We use a few inches of compost as mulch up around plants. This leaches nutrients into the soil below to help power plants low and slow all season long.
On top of that, we use a four inch layer of straw, clippings or shredded leaves to keep out weeds. When garden season is over, we then use a cover crop (more on cover crops later) to keep the soil protected. It stops weed seeds from finding bare soil and replenishes nutrients as well.
This combination of both traditional and living mulches keeps the soil covered from start to finish – year round. And in the process, all but eliminates weeds to create a weedless garden for good.
3) Stop Using That Hoe & Rake – How To Stop Weeds In A Garden
Talk about working less. One of best ways to also stop future weeds is to put away your rake and hoe. We have already talked about tilling causing weeds, but what many gardeners don’t realize is disturbing the soil with a hoe, rake or shovel can create more weeds as well.
Every time a hoe or spade is used around plants, weed seeds on the surface find a home to sprout. The same goes for disturbing the layer of mulch on top by raking or turning it.
Instead of hoeing weeds and disturbing the soil, garden maintenance should be limited to simply pulling the few weeds that appear, and occasionally applying new mulch when needed. As crazy as it sounds, working less really will create less weeds.
In addition, when planting, keep the holes to exactly where you need them. Avoid over-digging – remember the more soil you disturb, the more chances weed seeds find a home.
4) Be Consistent – How To Stop Weeds In A Garden For Good
Our last tip might seem to be obvious, but it’s actually where most gardeners slip up. If you truly want a weed free garden, a consistent approach is a must. And it doesn’t need to be hours upon hours of everyday work.
A simple 5 to 10 minute stroll through your garden every day is the best line of defense. But it needs to be done almost every single day. And here’s why:
If you spend 10 minutes a day in your garden checking for small weeds or any issues, you will take care of them quickly. But if you wait a week, those problems will multiply 10 fold. The fact is, spending 70 minutes once a week in the garden is not the same as spending 10 minutes each every day of the week.
Weeds and the problems they cause multiply at a fast rate when left for days on end. Pulling a few weeds from a mulched garden will take just a few minutes of work every day. But left to go for days or even weeks, those problems multiply exponentially.
Don’t Forget To Cover Crop!
So there you have it, the 4 simple secrets to stop weeds for good in your garden. One final note on keeping those weeds out forever – don’t forget to plant a no-till cover crop at the end of your garden season.
Cover crops planted in the fall keep the garden soil covered from incoming weed seeds, all while rejuvenating the soil below. They also add organic matter to the soil, help fix nitrogen levels for the following season’s crops, and help to keep soil from eroding from rain and snow.
And if you plant a no-till cover crop like cereal rye or oats, you won’t have to till them under next spring. No till cover crops die off and can simply be mowed off and planted through in the spring. That means the soil never has to be disturbed, and moreover, weeds never find their way to sprout.
We haven’t tilled a garden in 14 years now. And every year, the soil becomes more fertile, and produces less weeds. For us, working less could never be more fun! For more on Raised Row Gardening, check out our full length book: Raised Row Gardening. Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
Old World Garden
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