Gardening can be so idyllic—pruning abundant rose bushes, harvesting ripe tomatoes, nestling colorful annuals into window boxes…then there's weeds.
Even the most enthusiastic gardener can become overwhelmed and disgruntled by an onslaught of weeds, taking the joy out of yard work and wreaking havoc on one's back. Here are some strategies from FineGardening.com for winning the battle with weeds, both for your peace of mind and your garden's good health.
Don't awaken weeds. Every inch of soil contains weed seeds, but only those closest to the surface receive enough light to grow. Don't unwittingly promote weed growth by turning and digging soil unnecessarily.
Don't skimp on mulch. Not only does mulch make your garden beds more attractive, it helps prevents weeds by blocking out the light. Keep in mind, however, that chunky mulch allows some light in and certain mulch is full of weed seeds, so make your selection carefully. If you're feeling ambitious, lay down a layer of fabric or cardboard and place the mulch on top. This will ensure no light and no weed seeds infiltrate your soil.
Weed after rain. Wet weeds come out much more easily than dry ones, so be sure to head out promptly after a storm. If you're left to tackle dry weeds, use a hoe or steak knife to slice them right below the soil line.
Plant close together. Instead of spacing your plants out, place them closer together so that they'll form a natural light barrier as they mature. This is a long-term strategy, but will help lead to weed-free gardens in your future.
Water selectively. Don't accidentally encourage weed growth by watering them. Instead, employ soaker hoses and watering cans to water just your plants, as opposed to wide swaths of your garden where weeds lie in wait.
Most importantly, weed often. Letting the chore go will make weeds more prolific and more difficult to pull out. Arm yourself with these strategies and put weeds in their rightful place.