I’ve never met a gardener who stated that they love to garden because they love to pull weeds. I remember growing up in Kentucky and sighing when my assigned Saturday chore (as it was most Saturday’s throughout the growing season) was to weed a section of the garden. Perhaps it is the lack of reward knowing that some of the weeds you pull will grow right back again. Maybe, but maybe, there is a better way! I’m not talking about weed eradication; I’m talking weed control – but how can you decline the weed pressure in your garden over several years?
Here’s a few tips to consider:
- Retrofit sprinkler irrigation heads to drip irrigation lines. Weeds love water too so why not restrict water to areas you are not growing garden plants.
- Use mulches, organic or synthetic, to cover areas of bare soil. Mulches will help to suppress weed growth.
- Pull weeds when they are very small, keeping in mind all weeds do not germinate at the same time of year. Regular monitoring of the garden will help you accomplish this goal.
- Avoid tilling the garden soil when not necessary. Tilling can surface dormant weed seeds that were once too deep in the soil profile to germinate.
- If you have bare sections of the garden, grow a cover crop. Some cover crops, like winter rye, provide allopathic competition to garden weeds.
- For annual garden weeds (live for one growing season), target plants before of just after bloom. Weeds need to bloom before they can produce and mature seed.
- For perennial weeds (live for three or more growing seasons), try to remove as much of the underground plant structures as possible (taproot, rhizomes, bulbs).
- Avoid bringing weedy topsoil or compost into the garden.
- Do not throw weed seeds into your backyard compost bin. You may or may not reach temperatures necessary to ‘cook’ weed seeds. Put weeds with seeds in your trash or green waste bin instead.
- Be patient, and be diligent. Overtime, weed pressure will decline to those that are devoted to the care of their garden – and hey, it’s good exercise too!