Prevent Weeds from Taking Hold

With the first real rains of the season, weeds are sprouting all over.  Since Nature doesn’t like bare soil, weeds will fill in any available space including pots, raised beds, or anywhere space and soil are available. Prevent weeds by planning ahead for new planting areas and using a combination of competitive plants, mulches, and weed removal by hand. Removing aggressive perennial weeds before they set seed is especially important.

Mulch is the key to weed-free landscaping.

  • Mulches prevent weed seed germination by blocking sunlight. Properly apply mulch and replenish it so it continues to suppress weeds.
  • Organic mulches (e.g., wood chips, bark chips, compost) are attractive but must be replenished once they break down. Choose a medium-sized mulch (3/4 inch) and keep at a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
  • Natural inorganic mulches (e.g., sand, gravel, pebbles) are more stable than organic mulches but difficult to keep clean.
  • Landscape fabrics are porous and long lasting and vary in how long they remain effective. Cover with organic mulch.
  • Black plastic is not preferred since it can restrict air and water movement and promote root rots.

When weeds invade your landscape:

  • Remove young weeds by hand before they flower and set seed.
  • Use a dandelion knife or similar tool to dig up all roots and underground parts of perennial weeds without overly disturbing the soil.
  • Consider devices such as string trimmers for large areas.
  • Apply mulch to weed-free areas to prevent further invasions, and regularly remove new weeds as soon as they appear.

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