Weeds are the single most frustrating part of gardening. They encroach upon your garden, they overtake your lovely flowers, and they cut off nutrition to your vegetables.
Most people agree — weeds must go! But the solution is not dangerous weed killing chemicals. Rather elbow grease and outwitting weeds is the safest and healthiest recourse.
Adjust your attitude to weeds!
Some weeds are most definitely just that — a weed. But many other “weeds” may actually be the preferred flower in another yard. Anything that grows in your garden without your permission is considered a weed. This includes flowers sprouting from cast-off bird seed, vegetable plants growing from compost-surviving seeds, and descendants of your chosen flowers a season or two ago.
Consider working with these plants instead of against them. A naturally growing garden is not only easier to maintain, but it is usually better adapted to your region and yard.
Till and Hoe
If you are starting your garden from scratch and don’t need to worry about protecting bulbs or rooted plants, then tilling is a great way to break up and ease the removal of a patch of weeds. Rows of dirt between vegetables can be tilled at any time to remove weeds. Too much tilling can create soil problems, though, so only do so a few times a year. Hoeing accomplishes the same end, but on a smaller scale.
Mulch your ground
Once you have the largest and strongest weeds removed, cover the ground in a thick layer of mulch. Mulch not only improves the soil for your plants, but its blocks out the light that weeds need to grow. Do not mulch over plants that need to come up or over seeds you have sowed.
Block even more
If you have extremely persistent weeds and need to increase the effectiveness of your mulch, try laying down newspapers, paper bags, or cardboard before laying the mulch. These will effectively block the sunlight and can even control weeds for years without replacement. You can also buy weed control fabric which serves the same purpose, but it can get pricey for a large garden.
Pull those weeds up
If any weeds do manage to pop through after your efforts to remove and prevent them, chances are they will be weak and easily be removed by hand. Just put on some gardening gloves and give them a yank. Go around your garden once a week and catch them before they have a chance to take hold.
Weeds are persistent, and you must be also if you want to win the backyard battle. Take time early on to remove and prevent them, then follow up with regular checks to remove any that creep in. You will have a lovely garden full of only desired plants.