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BONNIE’S GARDEN – 6 Tips for a Weed Free Garden

By Bonnie Pega
Bonnie's Garden

This past Saturday, June 13th, was National Weed Your Garden Day. One of the most important things we can do as a gardener is to keep weeds out of our vegetable and flower beds.

Too many weeds can crowd plant roots and force them to compete for water and nutrients. When a plant is “fighting”, they have less energy to grow or bloom. Weeds can also provide hiding places for insects and cut down on air circulation, which is essential to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.

6 Chemical-Free Tips to Keep Your Gardens Weed-Free

1: Make sure your gardens are weed-free before planting

Spread a tarp over the area for a couple of weeks before planting.  This will cut off the sunlight to the weeds beneath and hasten them on their way to weed heaven.

2: Mulch your garden after planting

There are a few things to think about though:

  • Consider the pH of your soil when applying pine straw or pine bark mulch, which can acidify the soil slightly.
  • Leaves are great but keep the soil cool so don’t apply until June, when the soil is warm.
  • Newspapers work great as mulch, but you might want to top with an inch or two of regular mulch for looks.
  • And, if you use grass clippings, consider the way you treat your lawn. Do you use a lot of chemicals? Do you want those same chemicals in your garden?

3: Pour boiling water over tough weeds

This works great, but don’t do it too close to ornamentals.

4: Flame Weed them

My neighbor has a Flame Weeder. It’s really cool (or really HOT!) and very effective. You can only use it on well-watered gardens, however,  and you must have a hose nearby.

5: Eat them

So many of what people consider weeds are edible, including dandelions, wood sorrel, wild violets, and many others.  There are many books out there to help you identify edible wild plants.

6: Hand pull

An ancient Chinese proverb says “The best fertilizer is the shadow of the gardener.” How true! Hand pulling, at least on occasion, gets you up close and personal with your garden. What better way to get close than to turn over the occasional leaf to check for insect eggs or to catch that first glimpse of a baby squash ready to grow or appreciate the delicate beauty of that little green bean flower? Hint: if you water your garden first, the weeds are way easier to pull.

What is a Weed, Exactly?

Remember, a weed is only something growing where you don’t want it. A rose in your driveway is a weed. In my backyard, wild violets, dandelions, buttercups, and clover are NOT weeds. In my vegetable garden, they are.

Get Advice for YOUR Specific Garden Situation

Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse and talk with us about the best way to control weeds in your gardens. With so many ways to control weeds, let us help you choose the best method for your unique garden situation.

For more info from Bonnie, visit our blog

4 thoughts on “BONNIE’S GARDEN – 6 Tips for a Weed Free Garden

  1. I have a unique grass growing all over my flower bed. I was told it was Sedge. I spent an entire Saturday pulling it out, at the root and in less that two weeks my flower bed is overgrown again. Plus it seems to have helped the plant grow faster and multiply. I almost killed an 80 year-old maple with weed killer so I don’t want to use that anymore. What can I do?

  2. Leslie, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that horrible aggressive nut sedge. The problem is that nut sedge is a vigorous grower–growing from any tiny bit of root left in the ground, as well as re-seeding. I’ve had my best luck by “mulching” with newspaper topped with regular bark mulch and just leaving it for a month or two. You could also try “Preen”–Preen is a pre-emergent weed preventer that can keep weed seeds from germinating. Use it around grown plants and mulch on top for great results.

  3. I’m glad you included #5, which is my preferred strategy for dandelions! Gourmet, organically grown greens, super nutritious and versatile. And how can you not love their sunny golden faces in May?

  4. In the spring, my backyard is full of dandelions and wild violets and the bright yellow looks so nice with the purple/blue violets. Now, I have clover blossoms and can sit on my deck and watch bees and little butterflies all over the yard. My kitties sit inside and watch baby bunnies nibble on the occasional clover leaf. What’s not to like? I have a friend who makes dandelion wine from the blossoms.

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