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Controlling Weeds

Controlling Weeds

There is nothing more beautiful than healthy, vibrant plants in a border. Whether you are starting a new bed or border or just trying to maintain an existing one, keeping your garden free from weeds as much as possible is important as weeds compete with ornamental plants for moisture, nutrients and sunlight. 

Take time.....carve out time to walk thru and weed your beds and borders every two weeks. This will pay huge dividends in keeping your garden looking attractive throughout the year!


There are various methods to combating weeds. Ideally, weeds need to be removed when young or before they establish themselves and especially before they set seed.

Remove weeds by hand This might be a more viable option if your garden is new or small. It's a good idea to carve out some time every two weeks to weed your garden, if you wait too long the job will seem much harder.  There are many types of hand weeders and hoes.  Make sure to sever the weeds just below the soil surface.

Boiling Water Boiling water can be poured directly on plants.  This works well in small areas or brick or stone pathways.  It will take a few days for the plant to die. Once plant  has dried, pull it out.  You may need to repeat this application a couple of time during the growing season to eradicate weeds.

Smothering  A simple method is covering weeds with cardboard or newspaper, layer newspaper down with at least 4 sheets of used cardboard. Any established weeds will die from lack of sun and any weed seeds will not be able to germinate.  A smothering method is called Lasagna Gardening, which refers to building layers of organic matter that eventually cook down and smothers any weeds. Organic matter used includes garden trimmings, grass clippings, leaves, vegetable & fruit scraps, manure, compost, pine needles and peat moss.  Fall is a great time to do this since it allows the bed sufficient time during  the winter season to break down and thus ready for spring planting.

Salt Mix a solution of 1 cup salt to 2 cups boiling water and pour directly weeds.

Vinegar  White or apple cider vinegar dissolves  the skin of the leaves causing the plant to dry out and thus die.

Herbicides to prevent weed germination  Pre-emergent herbicides are weed killers most often used in perennial gardens since the target the root that first emerges from a weed seed.  Since perennials have established roots, they are not harmed by it.  Most brands last up to 3 months, so it may mean a couple of applications during the growing season.  A popular brand is called Preen.

Herbicides to eliminate established weeds  Non-selective herbicides kill any vegetation it comes in contact with.  Brands such as RoundUp are used for getting rid of lawns or establishing new beds.  Available in ready to use forms with their own sprayer, or if you select to mix your own, make sure you only use that sprayer for that purposes.  Always wear rubber gloves, a long sleeved shirt, and pants to avoid contact .  To avoid spraying on existing plant material, use larger pots or a bucket to cover

Mulching  Applying a minimum of 3 inches on an area where weeds have been removed.  Mulch will help to smother attempts of many weed seeds that attempt to germinate.  Certain alpine, rock and succulent type plants have crowns that are sensitive to mulch and prefer crushed stone or gravel. 

Groundcovers Groundcovers are a type of living mulch that provide many of the same benefits of regular mulch. Plants will take a couple of years to fill in, but once established, help deter the germination of new weed seeds and reduce yearly costs of organic mulch replacement.