For homeowners who love a lush, healthy lawn and gardeners who only want what they planted to grow in their beds and herbaceous borders, weed control is a priority. There are many ways to combat weeds, and here are three of them:
Pull Them by Hand
The simplest and most eco-friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them by hand, especially when they’re young. Older weeds can be much tougher to pull or dig up, for many have long taproots or spread by runners that need to be wrenched up out of the ground. Disturbing a plant that’s gone to seed only helps to distribute the seeds. A gardener should resist the urge to chop weeds up to make them easier to remove. There are some weeds that like nothing better than to be cut up, for the bits and pieces that are left can turn into new plants.
The best time to pull weeds is right after a rain. The gardener should wear sturdy gardening gloves and old clothes that cover them up, and use a good kneeling pad. If the root doesn’t come up right away, a gardening fork is good. If this is too strenuous, make sure that the weeds are at least decapitated before they go to seed.
Cover Them Up
Covering up the ground where the weeds grow tends to discourage them, though some weeds are so tough they will struggle even in darkness. Mulch discourages both weeds and harmful insects. It can be anything from crushed stone to shredded leaves, pine needles, wood chips or straw. Organic mulch has the benefit of adding nutrients to the soil.
The mulch should be layered not much higher than two inches deep and shouldn’t touch the place where the stem or trunk meet the roots to avoid rotting. If the gardener really wants to keep the weeds down, they should put down a layer of damp newspaper then pile the mulch on top of it. None of the newspaper should have colored ink, which is toxic. Black landscape fabric covered with a layer of mulch is also good.
Planting a cover crop to shade out the weeds is a good idea. Some cover crops include buckwheat, winter rye, oats, wheat and white clover. Keeping the grass relatively tall in the summer also keeps down the weeds.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them
Dandelions are famously nutritious. Every part of the plant can be eaten, and it can even be made into wine. Like other edible weeds, dandelion leaves are best eaten when young. Older plants tend to be chewy. Other edible weeds are sheep sorrel, lamb’s quarters and purslane.