Growing your own vegetables can be a fun and cost-effective way to feed your family, but pesky weeds can put a damper on your gardening ambitions. They can also wreak havoc on a lawn, making it hard for your family to fully enjoy your outdoor space. But you don’t need harsh, chemical herbicides to kill weeds. You can use these five organic weed control methods to keep your vegetable patch, flower beds and lawn free of weeds.
1) Top Weeds Before They Seed
The easiest way to keep your lawn and garden free of weeds is to stop them from growing at all. Many plants reproduce by spreading seeds, but before they can do that, they have to flower. Think of the common dandelion, with its bright yellow flowers that transform into clouds of white-tufted seeds borne on the wind. You can reduce or eliminate dandelions in your yard by lopping off the bright yellow flowers before they have a chance to seed.
Apply the same logic to other weeds, from Canadian thistle and crab grass to purslane and trefoil. Don’t let weeds drop seeds in your yard. Mow, string trim or hand-cut them before they have the chance. If done diligently, this method will gradually reduce the number of weeds in your yard over the years, by shrinking your yard’s weed seed bank, which consists of many tens of thousands of seeds dropped in your yard by weeds over the course of a season.
2) Solarize Garden Beds
The weed seed bank is the reason why weeds can be such a problem in garden beds, even if you till up all the plants in that area. The soil itself is full of seeds; a single weed can drop thousands of them. The process of solarization kills these seeds so you can start with a clean slate.
To solarize an area prior to planting, till it up and then cover it tightly with a sheet of clear plastic for at least six weeks under a hot late spring or summer sun. This will burn away weed seeds, and even kill some pests and diseases.
3) Keep Weeds Down with Pre-Emergent Herbicides
Another option for keeping weeds out of your garden beds is to apply an organic pre-emergent weed killer. This is a less extreme option than solarization, since it takes less time and effort, and it’s an option that can be extended to your whole lawn if you’re concerned about weeds in the grass. Pre-emergent weed killers also act to reduce the weed seed bank by killing weed seeds before they can sprout, grow, and re-seed.
4) Kill Those That Do Grow With Organic Herbicides
Despite your best efforts to eliminate the weed seed bank, you’re going to still have some weeds in your garden and lawn. That’s because many weed seeds, like the aforementioned dandelion seeds, arrive in your lawn and garden on currents of air.
You can kill these weeds by pulling them up with a trowel or other hand weeder. You can also kill these weeds by applying an organic herbicide. Plain vinegar is an option if you want to kill lawn and garden weeds cheaply. Flame weeding might be an option if you need to kill weeds in sidewalk cracks or around fences and barriers.
5) Mulch Beds to Hamper Weed Growth
Mulch in flower beds and vegetable patches can keep the soil moist and keep weeds from growing. Mulch is an attractive solution for flower beds, as is planting varieties or ornamentals that can be spaced close together to choke out weeds. Mulch early in the season, before weed seeds sprout, but not until you’ve eliminated all existing weeds from the plot. Use two to three inches of a weed-free mulch, not hay or grass clippings.
In vegetable beds, or in areas where weeds proliferate, put down a barrier of garden cloth, newspaper, or brown paper bags before mulching. This provides an extra layer that sprouting weeds will struggle to get through. Kill any weeds that do prevail with a spray of vinegar; just be careful not to get it on your flowers or vegetable plants.
The struggle against weeds is an eternal one for any gardener, but it’s not one that requires toxic chemicals. Organic weed control can be just as effective at keeping your lawn and garden beautiful and weed-free.
To control weeds try these organic tips and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well they work. If you’re interesting in having a organic garden or growing herb indoors check out Mary’s Heirloom seeds.
If you have you tried any of these organic weed control methods or have any other tips that have worked for you please share them in the comment section!
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