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Strategies to Discourage Weeds in the Garden

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In a garden bed that is left unattended for a few weeks during the summer season, only the hardiest plants can prevail in a competition of survival. Once nature sets in, weeds will quickly take over.

Non-chemical treatments are our preferred option for controlling weeds in the garden. Rapidly spreading and growing weeds can smother your vegetable plants, however there are a variety of other methods to keep them in check.

This article will provide a few solutions to prevent weeds from growing in the garden. Every approach has a different level of effort involved, so choose the one that best fits your particular circumstances.

1. Incorporate Mulch in Your Garden

When beginning with a completely blank canvas, one can keep ahead of the weeds by applying mulch in generous amounts around the plants. There are a variety of mulches which are useful in keeping weeds at bay.

The Different Varieties of Garden Mulch:

  • Dead leaves. Come autumn, it is a good idea to mow up the fallen leaves and store them in a heap. Over time, these leaves will decompose and turn into a compost-like soil amendment which is quite rich in nutrients. This can be used as mulch for your plants.

  • Straw. Straw, which is composed of dried out stalks from cereal plants, is the ideal mulching material for the garden and not hay. This is because straw usually has less seeds, which means fewer germinations. Cover the soil around your plants with a thick layer of straw to keep weeds at bay. These can be purchased in bales from livestock supply stores.

  • Grass clippings. If you are blessed with a lawn, use the grass clippings that you obtain from mowing as a free mulch. These can be used fresh or dried as a mulch in the same manner as straw.

  • Black plastic. If you want to give your garden a neat and tidy look, black plastic mulch can be employed. While this may appear unnatural, it is one of the simplest and most effective ways to mulch rows. It usually comes in a large 4′ wide roll which can be cut to fit the size of the garden. Make sure to create holes wide enough around the transplants so air and water can reach the soil around each plant.

Mulching in the garden offers far more advantages than just controlling weeds. A distinct benefit is enhanced water retention in the soil that is beneath the mulching material. This water will not disappear as quickly as it would have without the mulch and can be saved for a longer duration to benefit your plants.

Temperature regulation is yet another upside of mulching. If a chillier climate is expected, a generous layer of mulch can aid in keeping the root system at a steady temperature. This is especially useful for fruits or vegetables that are not resilient to cold weather, for example, peppers!

2. Utilize a Weeding Hoe for Gardening

Garden weeding hoe tool.

This gardening tool is great for weed control. It has a long handle that supports a thin, loosely-fitted blade which is designed to cut through the roots of the weeds. The blade works to eliminate the weed by slicing up its root system.

We had difficulty finding these items in stock at our local hardware stores; however, we were fortunate to stumble upon one at Home Depot. Alternatively, they can be purchased from Amazon for a similar cost here.

It is essential to employ the hoe on young weeds before they can become too large with deep roots. Trying to take on fully grown, overgrown weeds may not be feasible with this tool and may result in more blisters than it is worth.

Ensuring frequent weeding of the garden with this slicing tool will make your task much more effortless in the long run!

3. Use A Tarp To Cover The Soil

When deprived of the sun's rays, photosynthesis will not occur, and weeds will consequently wither away in a short amount of time. This phenomenon can be witnessed through the example of a neglected kiddy pool left out on the grass; the grass swiftly yellows and fades away.

A reliable way of eliminating present weeds in your garden is covering the region with a tarp that blocks out the light. A heavy-duty tarp is the most ideal option, but you can also employ thick black plastic in order to keep out the sun's rays. Remember to plan ahead of time, since this technique requires a few weeks. Early spring and late autumn are the most favorable times for this.

It is important to note that this procedure is distinct from 'solarizing' a garden bed, a method that employs clear plastic to facilitate the absorption of more sunlight for the purpose of increasing the soil temperature to a level that eliminates weeds and bacteria.

A tarp can be used to eradicate weeds. Here is what you need to do:

  • It is advised to cover the garden bed with a tarp bigger than the surface area to prevent weeds from coming up from the sides.

  • To make sure the root systems do not come in or leave the area, secure the edges by digging a small trench around them or using garden pins or heavy rocks.

  • To stop the wind from blowing the tarp away, put heavy objects like rocks and cinder blocks around the edges and in the middle.

  • Leave the tarp for 4-8 weeks to make sure the root systems are completely dead and decomposing in the soil. Check progress each week.

  • When the weeds are mostly gone and you are ready to plant, take off the tarp and store it. Pull out any remaining weeds and roots.

  • Plant your garden right away and mulch in order to avoid new weeds from appearing.

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The ideal time to do this is when the garden is not occupied, though it can be managed during the summer months if it is necessary. The length of time it takes to complete the task ranges from weeks to months, depending on the toughness of the weeds.

4. Cultivate Additional Crops

I find it useful to occupy soil space with more plants when wanting to keep weeds away. Not spacing plants correctly can make room for weeds to spread.

Maximize your garden space by planting your vegetables closer together, but still leaving a bit of room. Then, you can fill the extra space with smaller plants. This will provide the shade necessary to stop the weeds from taking over.

A great way to preserve the soil microbiome is by utilizing your own soil. It is recommended that soils continually have plants growing in them to prevent erosion and safeguard the worms and microorganisms that live in it.

5. Regularly Pull Weeds by Hand

If you're looking for a more traditional approach, you could always manually remove the weeds from your garden. If you don't mind getting your hands dirty and find pleasure in being outdoors, this process can be calming and fulfilling.

Maintaining control of the weeds is critical in this situation. If they become too well-established, manual weeding will be a laborious task.

One suggestion is to invest in a kneeling pad to provide protection to your knees while gardening.

Types of Weeds Found in Gardens


  • Crabgrass is an ideal plant for hot weather and can tolerate drought. It is able to reproduce itself and its roots can spread. As with all garden weeds, it is essential to extract the entire root system to get rid of it!

  • Foxtail. Clustering grass that grows rapidly and can become quite tall. It can be dangerous to animals and other wild creatures.

  • Purslane. Although often used as an ingredient in salads, purslane is actually an invasive weed and can easily take over a garden if not controlled.

  • Bluegrass. This annual grass can sprout up in any type of soil and spread quickly. To prevent it from becoming established, it is important to dig out all the roots.

  • Velvetleaf. This invasive annual weed is native to southern Asia, but has spread to other areas around the world. It can reach heights up to 8' tall if left to its own devices. Abutilon theophrasti is the scientific name for this plant.


  • Dandelion. You may find these in yards and meadows. Before you start getting rid of them, consider the advantages they offer to lawns and gardens. Dandelions are attractive and can provide sustenance to early spring pollinators, help loosen up tightly-packed soil, and are edible, with numerous health benefits.

This article is meant to help you avoid having to weed your garden. With some good forethought, you can make it so that you don't have to do much weeding. If you know of any other techniques that have worked for you, please share them - we enjoy discovering new gardening methods!

"Keep Gardening" - GWDXM

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