Aching back. Gnarled fingers. Blistered hands.
Sounds like somebody has a weed problem in their flower beds! You know there just has to be a better way to weed your flower garden.
There is no magic bullet that will kill all your weeds naturally, while sparing your beautiful flowers. However, using some imagination and thinking outside the box a bit will make that job considerably easier.
Prevention is the best medicine
There is no way to bring your risk of weeds down to 0%. But, you can minimize the chance of them taking root en masse in your flower bed.
Keeping the weeds from invading your flowers’ personal space to begin with will keep your job of weeding to a minimum.
If you are just preparing your flower beds for the first time you should solarize. Get yourself some clear plastic, about 2 millimeters thick. Spread that out over the beds and let the sun bake the soil for about 4 weeks. That will kill any seeds that are in the soil.
If you have already planted the beds and don’t want to bake off your flowers, then laying some cover on the bare ground between your flowers will create an environment that makes it difficult for a weed’s seeds to work it’s way into the soil.
Start with a few layers of newspaper. Not a bad way to get rid of all that bad news, eh?
Then, you’ll want to cover the newspaper layer with a good thick layer of mulch. Try to get at least 35 inches of it. Not just any mulch, though. Make sure it is a semicomposted mulch made of organic material. It isn’t cheap, but what will hurt the wallet will spare your back.
Should you pluck them?
It is such a satisfying feeling to see a rogue weed there among your flowers and ripping it right out of the ground. Flinging him aside never to be seen again!
Don’t do that if you actually want your garden weed free.
When you pull that weed out you are bringing its seeds to the surface. Usually the seeds are deep enough that they likely won’t germinate.
What you should do then is cut the weed at the soil level. I know what you are asking yourself right now. What about my poor back?
Nobody said you had to be the one cutting those weeds! Try to bribe some kids that are around. Maybe they’re your own kids or the neighbors. It’s nothing the promise of some ice cream won’t solve.
If your flower beds are truly overgrown you will need to hoe those weeds. But, don’t try to turn the soil over with the weeds the way you traditionally would use a hoe.
Make sure the edge of your hoe is razor sharp. Use a Dremel rotor to edge it sharp if you have to. Otherwise use some elbow grease and file it down.
You want to shave the weeds at the level of the soil leaving it undisturbed. Think of it like you are shaving. Just cut the weeds down at their bottoms.
Then use the cover technique that I mentioned earlier.
Now you should have a nice environment that will keep those weeds from coming back up.
But, there is still more you can do to really minimize them coming back with a vengeance.
Cover it up
You are likely thinking of getting some of that landscape cloth to cover the ground and prevent weeds from growing. Those don’t really work, however.
So, if you can’t beat them, join them. Don’t just mulch it and then pluck the ones that poke through. Don’t leave that ground naked.
Try planting some ground cover that is thick enough to keep the weeds from getting through. Acacia redolens, Campanula poscharskanya, and Gazania rigens are all examples of nice looking ground cover plants that simply substitute for weeds in between the flowers. These are all low growing and very dense cover plants that carpet the area.
Some weeds will inevitably poke through this cover, but, those that do won’t have much chance at survival as they will be competing with some heavy hitters.
There will come a point when your flower garden is so overgrown with weeds that you feel like the only option is to bring out the big guns and start spraying those intruders with chemical warfare.
Please, don’t do it. First of all, think of the heartache if you were to kill the flowers you worked so hard to produce along with those weeds. And, believe me, that is very likely to happen.
The other consideration is that when you apply most herbicides, that area cannot come into contact with pets or kids.
Do you want your yard to become a nogozone for your loved ones?
So, what about natural herbicide remedies?
The easiest method to try is simply kill them with boiling water. To make it fun you can pretend you are defending a castle and pouring boiling oil down onto the heads of your enemy. Weeds are your enemy after all!
This will kill the weeds and then all you have to do is try the mulch cover technique.
Vinegar is also effective. A 15% strength acetic acid vinegar will do the trick. You can find it in most garden centers. Simply pour a bit onto the leaves of the weeds. Try to not soak any of the soil around with it. Again, you don’t want to kill your flowers along with those weeds.
To sum it all up
- Solarize your beds before you even begin. That way weeds won’t be as much of a problem.
- Shave, don’t pluck those weeds. Don’t let the seeds come to the surface.
- Cover bare area with a layer of newspaper and organic mulch.
- Plant some cover plants to create a dense carpet that a weed will have trouble penetrating.
- Try natural remedies like boiling water or vinegar to naturally kill the weeds.
Even if you perform all of these tips to perfection, there is no way you will never have to deal with weeds again. So, learn to love the work of weeding.
The only foolproof way to never have to weed again is to hire a landscaper. But, what fun would that be?