Garden Weed Control

Weed control is one of the most frustrating parts of gardening. How can you keep them from taking over?

Weed control is one of the most frustrating parts of gardening. If left to grow and multiply, weeds can not only make your garden unattractive, they can also rob desired plants of space, water, and nutrients. How can you keep them from taking over your garden?

The simplest, yet most labor-intensive method of weed control is simply removing them when they grow. Pulling them out by hand is easier just after a rain or after watering. Hand tools such as a hoe, long- or short-handled weeder can also be used. Weeding tools come in many varieties, some with angled blades to slice through weeds and their roots. These tools can be difficult to use in small spaces, and if the weeds aren't completely removed they will simply grow back.

Another method of keeping the weeds out is mulching. Organic material such as wood chips, shredded bark, straw, dried leaves, or even grass clippings can be used. If you choose to use grass clippings, allow them to dry out and turn brown before applying because fresh grass clippings can burn your plants. Plastic ground covering comes in rolls and also effectively keeps the weeds from emerging, but it also keeps water from penetrating, so you'll have to water underneath it. Cloth landscaping material allows the water to penetrate, but not the weeds. Of course, mulches cannot be used until after the seeds you have planted sprout, nor will plants re-seed themselves with a mulch covering the ground.

Chemical herbicides can also be used to prevent weeds from growing, but be careful to choose one that does not affect the desired plants. Some are safe to use around desired plants, but only after they have become established. Read labels and follow directions carefully.

The three methods to weed control are chemicals, mulches, and manual removal. The most successful strategy is to use a combination of the three. A few weeds in the garden won't do harm to plants, so unless having a perfectly groomed garden bed is important to you, it may sometimes be best to leave them alone rather than risk damage to desired plants. And you never know - sometimes the weeds are interesting, too.

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