In order to produce top-quality flowers, crops and shrubs, you'll need to maintain a weed-free yard and pay close attention to your garden and landscape every step of the way. Weeds are every gardener's worst enemy. No one likes pulling weeds, using noxious chemicals or using loud weed whackers.
Weeds are most likely to spread in a neglected and under-fertilized lawn, growing opportunistically between the undernourished grass that they steadily squeeze out. Your main goal should therefore be to provide the optimum growing conditions for the grass. Proper aeration of the soil is the main requirement, along with thorough watering when necessary and correct feeding. In a well-nourished lawn, both grass and weeds shoot up and can easily be cut back with the lawnmower. Since weeds are far less tolerant of regular cutting than grass, the grass will persevere while the weeds will diminish drastically, if not completely.
In addition to weeds being unattractive, they also harm the plants that you're trying to grow by stealing nutrients and water from the soil. The best way to keep weeds out of your garden is through a combination of techniques:
1. Create a physical barrier
The best way to fight weeds is to start preventative tactics before they appear. One popular solution is to lay newspapers around your flowers. Cover the newspapers with mulch to keep the area looking good. The weeds will not receive the sunlight they need to grow, but water will still soak through to your flowers. An alternative to this is to use a black landscape fabric and lay it down over the area, but poke holes for you plants to grow. The heat from the sun on the tarp should kill any weeds.
2. Pull weeds up when they're young
If weeds do sprout in your garden, it will save you time to pull them up when they're young. Young weeds won't have established root systems, and it's crucial to pull up the roots along with the rest of the weed. Many deep-rooted weeds can grow up to 6 inches into the soil, and if not removed, those roots can grow back again. Depending on the size and number of weeds, most can be dug-up with a weeding tool, potting trowel, or a small shovel. If the ground is too hard, try soaking it a little to ease the root removal process. Some people use hot-water to pour on shallow rooted weeds to help loosen up the soil or even kill the weeds on the spot.
Mowing your lawn regularly and to the proper height can help prevent weed growth. Mowing your lawn to its higher mowing range will help crowd out unwanted weeds and prevent sunlight from reaching them. Make sure you bag your clippings so you can help prevent them from spreading throughout your lawn. This is especially important when weeds are producing seeds.
Fertilizing can also help control weeds. It is important to know your lawn and its growing season. By doing so, you can identify the best time to stimulate your grass's growth and to fight off weeds. Additionally, many fertilizers can be mixed with a pre-emergence and weed-control to help prevent weed growth. By doing so, you can help crowd out weeds from growing and fighting for space. However, if you fertilize your lawn prior to periods of dormancy, you could actually end up feeding the weeds instead, and creating much bigger problems.
You can also kill weeds by covering them with clear plastic that's anchored at the edges. This process is called solarization. Heat will build up beneath the plastic, killing both the weeds and their seeds.
Though herbicides are effective, it's generally best to use them only as a last resort because they contain chemicals that are released into the environment. If you use a herbicide, make sure to follow the directions carefully. You can find herbicides at garden centres and home improvement stores. Remember to check for any by-laws regarding the use of herbicides in your area as some provinces in Canada prohibit the use of herbicides.
If you follow these steps in your garden, you should have very few weeds. And remember, weeds are just plants in places where you don't want them to be. If you try everything and a few stubborn weeds persist, try to see their virtues. After all, dandelion greens are considered a delicacy by many!
Source: Canada Realty News July 2009