Gardening & Weeds: Preventing And Eliminating Them

Gardening: preventing weeds. There are very effective ways to eliminate and prevent weeds in a garden or flower bed.

Weeds can present a major problem for anyone with a garden or flower bed. They make their way into the soil and seem to take over, choking out plants and robbing them of valuable nutrients and moisture. Preventing weeds before they appear is much easier than pulling them after they have taken over.

If weeds have already invaded your garden or flower bed, pulling them by hand, tilling, or hoeing is going to be necessary, according to "The Garden's Uninvited Guests", published by The National Home Gardening Club, and written by Lon J. Rombough. Larger weeds should be pulled out by hand, and smaller ones that have not formed seeds can be tilled or hoed, says Rombough. He recommends pulling weeds a couple of days after a good rain or thorough watering. If the soil is too wet, weeds will break off at the stem and leave behind the root system. If weeds have become large enough to form seeds, hoeing will spread them into the soil and the warmth of the sun will promote germination.

Once weeds and their roots have been removed, there are ways to prevent future weeds from cropping up. "The Garden's Uninvited Guests" has several suggestions of products to prevent weeds and methods for their use.

Black plastic is commonly used as an inexpensive barrier to weeds. It is placed over the soil and secured to the ground. Openings are made for plants to grow through, while the plastic covering effectively prevents unwanted plants and weeds from germinating and growing. Another benefit of black plastic mentioned by "The Garden's Uninvited Guests", is that black plastic helps prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil, and it helps keep the soil warmer during cool weather. Decorative stone, bark, or mulch can be used to cover the plastic. The same article warns that black plastic often tears. Also, air and nutrients cannot reach the soil beneath the plastic.

Weeds can be killed, according to "The Garden's Uninvited Guests" by placing clear plastic over the area to be planted. Leaving the plastic in place for approximately six weeks will heat the soil, resulting in the killing of weeds beneath it. This should be done by thoroughly watering the soil and anchoring the plastic to the ground. Once the area is free from weeds, an organic mulch is recommended to help prevent future weeds from surfacing.

"The Garden's Uninvited Guests" suggests the use of black-and-white newspaper or cardboard to block the growth of weeds. Several sheets of newspaper or heavy cardboard will need to be thoroughly watered and kept in place with mulch or something heavy such as brick. These materials will eventually decompose and contribute beneficial organic material to the soil.

Weed-retardant garden fabric is another alternative suggested by "The Garden's Uninvited Guests". This material is woven so water and nutrients can flow through to the plants and soil. It is also heavier than plastic and resists tearing. Covered with decorative stone, mulch, or rock, garden fabric is an attractive and effective method of controlling weeds.

"Controlling Weeds in Your Lawn and Garden", published by The Garden Helper, says that weeds having larger stems such as blackberries and scotchbroom may be eradicated by hammering copper nails into the fibrous stems. However, this does not always work, and it is not a quick fix. The same article recommends cutting them off at ground level and digging up the roots of the plant. Any seeds that have been spread, or any remaining roots can cause more weeds to grow, so the removal of new growth will probably need to be done a few times.

It is best for the environment to use natural methods of weed elimination, but "The Garden's Uninvited Guests" says that with some stubborn weeds chemicals may be the only remedy. It recommends reading labels and warnings very carefully. Also, be sure that the product you are considering using will kill the specific weeds you are dealing with. The same article says there are new products available that do not contain toxic chemicals, but a form of soap with sodium and potassium. These products damage the membranes and cells of the weeds causing them to die. Check with your local garden center for products that will meet your specific needs.

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