Weeding. You hate it, right? It’s among the most time-consuming tasks a gardener faces. But how can you be sure you are doing it effectively? We’re here to help.
First, what defines a weed?
In the simplest definition, weeds are plants that grow where you don’t want them to grow. They can be plants that disrupt your neat and tidy rows or garden zones, plants that take over and choke out your desired plants, or simply extra plants that volunteer to grow elsewhere (a tomato in your summer squash, for example).
Like your garden plants, they can be annuals, perennials, plants, trees, or shrubs.
Some of the traits we appreciate in our garden plants are the same traits that allow weeds to thrive: hardy root systems, quick germination, and defense systems against predators both animal and human.
Options for weeding your garden
Hand-pulling or cultivating
- Hand-pulling can work well with smaller gardens when the soil is moist, not wet. For larger gardens, cultivators and hoes can be more effective, as long as you stay fairly shallow, especially close to your plants’ root systems. They can also save your back and your knees from all that bending and pulling!
- Larger weeds and perennials will need to be dug out with a shovel to make sure you get all of their root structures.
- Chemical herbicides can certainly be effective, but they do come with risks. They can destroy weeds but also harm pets, animals, and any small children that might come into contact with your plants.
- Also, one size does not fit all with chemical herbicides, so you may need to use several different types. Be sure to read the instructions and package labels thoroughly. Many herbicides can also damage the garden plants they come into contact with, so be sure to apply them carefully.
- Mulching can help your garden in many ways, including weed control. Perennial weeds, especially, can be effectively controlled by mulch. Several inches of organic mulch can block sun, moisture, and air from unwanted plants, eventually choking them out.
- It also helps create a more uniform temperature and soil moisture level in your garden, while preventing erosion. A mulched garden also looks nice!
- This fabric can be cut to fit your around your plants and between your rows. It can be used on its own or under mulch to form an additional barrier against weeds.
Is weeding necessary?
No matter what method you choose to weed your garden, weeding is unfortunately necessary.
Removing unwanted plants adds more room for your desired plants to find air, water, and room to grow.
The stronger your plants get, the more likely they are to fight off intrusive weeds, pests and diseases in the future.
Weeding also makes your garden more accessible when it comes to harvest time, and let’s face it, a neat garden just looks prettier.
Don’t forget to share your tips, photos, and ideas in the comments as you grow along with us!