Weeds in the garden always seem to grow a little faster than the flowers or crops. But with the right tools, regular weeding and a few gardening tricks, weeds can be controlled.
As diverse as weeds are, there are also numerous ways to fight them. Individual weeds that are not yet deeply rooted can simply be pulled out. In the case of thistles or nettles, however, be sure to wear gloves. If you weed before flowering, you avoid the plants forming seeds. Impatiens, for example, flings its seeds far away at the slightest touch. Also pluck out weeds that are close to the pond. Since many herbicides endanger aquatic organisms, don’t use them near bodies of water. As you can see, there are many ways to keep garden weeds at bay. Here are the best tips for keeping weeds under control.
How to get rid of weed in the garden
Using weeds as indicator plants
Nettle and Co. tell us a lot about the condition of the garden soil. Correctly interpreted, the indicator plants can even assist the gardener in his work. Stubborn root weeds such as buttercups or couch grass prefer to grow on compacted soil. They indicate that the soil needs better aeration. Others, such as lesser sorrel, like acidic soils, here, liming may be in order. If you know what the site is like, you can base your design on it: Chickweed indicates humusand nutrient-rich soil, the ideal place for vegetable crops in new gardens.
On larger areas, the most effective way to get rid of weeds is with a hoe. It is not so tedious if you have the right tool with the optimal working width at hand. Especially practical are plug-in systems. Here you only need one handle for different hoeing attachments.
In the vegetable garden, where space is left between rows or the soil is exposed until the next crop grows, hoeing also interrupts the capillary system of the soil at the surface, thereby reducing evaporation from deeper soil zones. This saves watering, thus explaining the old gardener’s rule “Hoeing once saves watering three times.” In dry, sunny weather, you can leave the hoed-out weeds as mulch, provided they have not yet formed seeds. It wilts immediately.
The mulch layer
Under trees, roses and shrubs, bark mulch or mulch compost is an ingenious problem solution. Even a layer of 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inch) thick leaves hardly any chance for weeds to sprout. If something does grow through, it can be easily plucked out because the roots have a hard time finding a foothold. Mulched areas warm up more quickly, and the soil remains moist and loose underneath. Bark mulch and wood chips bind nutrients during decomposition, so you should fertilize the beds with horn shavings before mulching.
The crack weeder
Environmentally friendly is the removal of weeds from paved areas with the crack weeder. The work will be much easier if you use a high-quality tool with a comfortable grip and sharp blade. Remove weeds before they bloom so they don’t propagate. Weed killers are prohibited on paths, garage driveways and squares unless they are sealed and used for gardening. There is a fear that the active ingredients will be washed off and end up in bodies of water.
Cut out taproots
Weeds with taproots, such as dandelion, thistle, blunt-leaved dock or fleeceflower, should be cut out deeply so that the root is completely removed. There are very effective tools for this purpose that are comfortable to use while standing. Repeat the process if the weeds do sprout again. However, a weeder is also good to fight yarrow in the lawn, provided that you notice it early.
An attractive green carpet of plants
Ground covers are the most elegant way to suppress weeds in the garden. Where cultivated plants grow luxuriantly, weeds cannot thrive. Especially for shadier areas, there are groundcovers such as golden nettle that even suppress goutweed.
In the ornamental garden, therefore, place plants such as ivy, cranesbill, pachysandra, shrubby cinquefoil, periwinkle, Breckland (wild) thyme, lily of the valley or golden strawberry so densely that no open ground is left for weeds. Keep the recommended planting distances, because only in this way the ground cover will develop optimally. In the initial phase, covering free spaces with bark humus helps. In specialized trade there are ready rooted vegetation mats, which can be laid like rolled turf.
Removing couch grass and goutweed completely
Root weeds such as couch grass, goutweed or hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) should always be dug up completely. If they have spread in the perennial bed, there is usually no other way out than to dig up all the perennials in the spring and remove all the weed roots from the bed with a digging fork. Then divide the perennials, check the sections for weed rhizomes as well, and remove them thoroughly before replanting the plants. If a rhizome piece remains in the soil, a new plant will form from it. Therefore, aftercare is also very important: after renewal, check the bed regularly at short intervals for new weeds and dig them out promptly.
Opaque film, plastic fabric or mulch paper not only suppress weeds, but also store heat for plant growth.
After tilling the soil, provide the bed with an adequate application of slow-release fertilizer and lay the mulch film flat over it. Then, to secure it, cover the sides of the film with soil and cut 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2 in) cross-cuts in it for the vegetable plants or strawberries. Since plastic films are not environmentally friendly when disposed of, use only reusable fabric materials or compostable films.
Should you compost weeds?
Making your own compost is a good thing. But often, it is used to drag in weeds. In professional composting facilities, high temperatures ensure that weed seeds and seedlings die. In the home garden, the inside of the compost heaps often does not get hot enough. Frequent turning, at least twice a year, is beneficial. If you want to be on the safe side, you should not dispose of weeds that already bear seeds in the compost. Root weeds are best left to dry out thoroughly before they end up in the compost.