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Keeping Weed-free Garden Beds

Apr 1, 2022 | Gardens


Starting a garden seems so aspirational sometimes. The benefits of fresh produce, the visual appeal of a perfect row of flowers, and the contemplative task of tending to your plants are simply refreshing. It’s literally a productive hobby. 

However, an annoyance to many gardeners is the inevitable presence of weeds. They proliferate, overwhelm your garden, and make you feel as if your labor has gone to waste. 

However, there are some ways to combat weed growth: 

  • observing your soil for potential weed sprouts
  • snipping reproductive features of weeds
  • pulling weeds as soon as you see them
  • using mulch
  • growing plants close together
  • watering the base of your plants. 

All these methods will help curb the growth of weeds! 

Why are Weeds Such a Problem for Gardens?

Fast reproduction defines weeds. They produce many seeds that germinate quickly and can remain dormant for extended periods. Weeds can typically survive in unusual places compared to other plants, such as areas with high traffic from animals or humans. 

However, weeds become a problem for your garden as they hog your plants’ light, water, soil, and other essential nutrients. Weeds can also contain insects and diseases that can damage the health of your plants. Common weeds to look out for while gardening are crabgrass, chickweed, dandelions, and thistles.  

Preparing for a Weed-free Garden

Seeds of common weeds are everywhere, especially in soil, and they are waiting for the perfect chance to take root. When you begin to garden at a new site, it is essential to reduce potential bad seeds, as they can take over your garden. 

You can reduce seeds at a new site by turning over and breaking up the soil, watering, and waiting for weed seeds to grow. Due to the quick nature of weed growth, it should not take too long. Pull out these weeds as soon as you see them! Similarly, if you do not have the time to pull the budding weeds, you can prevent their spread by snipping off important reproductive features of a weed. Chop off the flowers and the seedheads of any weeds. 

Another critical observation to make when purchasing new plants is checking and making sure they do not have any weeds. Often a new plant could be harboring a neighboring weed, so make sure to check. Tilling your soil for potential weed seeds, trimming parts of a weed, and checking new plants will save your garden from being overrun!

Weeding the Bed

Perhaps the most obvious way to get rid of weeds is to pull the pesky plants as soon as you spot them! While regularly pulling weeds from your garden may seem like an additional chore, it will be much easier and faster if you pull them as soon as you see them. When you pull weeds early, they are much easier to remove from your garden. Similarly, the plant is less likely to spread across your garden and create more annoying weed sprouts when you pull weeds quickly. Thus it is imperative to pull unwanted weeds as soon as you spot them, or else weeding will become a more regular chore. 

Make a routine of simply inspecting your garden and taking action against these new weed sprouts. 

Use Mulch to Suppress Weeds

Another great and effective way to prevent unwelcomed weeds in your garden is to use mulch! Mulch is a versatile element of a weed-free garden. Mulch prevents light exposure to weed seeds found in soil and thus prevents them from growing. 

Mulch is an excellent addition to preventing unwelcomed weeds in your garden without the additional labor of constant de-weeding. When using mulch, consider adding a 2- to 3-inch layer to prevent unwanted weed growth. For food gardens, one can use shredded leaves and hay as mulch. In decorative gardens, it is popular to use shredded bark. 

Keep Plants Close

To maximize your garden and prevent possible weeds, grow all your plants close together. Weeds survive off plots of bare soil, and thus a simple way to avoid them is to get your planned plants cozy with each other. When planning your garden, place all plants in the closest recommended spacing. Make sure to follow the recommended planting guide as you do not want plants to compete with each other for nutrients and water. 

Keep your plants as friendly neighbors working together to fend off weeds. Placing plants near each other and preventing large spaces of empty soil will help prevent weeds and expand your garden’s harvest. 

Plant Cover Plants

When the soil remains empty in the winter months, consider using a cover plant to prevent weed proliferation. Cover plants like ryegrass, winter pea, and clover will shield your garden from weeds and reintroduce beneficial nutrients to the soil. These plants will also protect your soil from erosion in the harsh winter months. 

Don’t Overwater

Regular watering is essential to keeping a healthy garden, but watering is also vital to weed growth! Therefore it is crucial to be cautious when watering and only water your intended plants. Watering the entire bed of soil will germinate weeds within the soil, and they can take over your entire garden. When watering, consider using a soaker hose and only water the base of your garden plants. This will help keep your garden healthy and will prevent any possible weeds from sprouting. 

Weeds may seem like a consistent threat to your garden, but there are a handful of effective ways to prevent and curb weed growth! Take early action by checking your soil for weeds by tilling and watering your garden bed before you place your plants. Then remove the unwanted weed sprouts. Regularly observe your garden for weeds and pull them as soon as possible, as it is easiest to pull a weed when it is sprouting. Even take the time to cut off reproductive parts of a weed — like the flower. Also, consider using mulch, watering just the base of your plant, and growing plants close to each other. These methods will ensure your garden will be free of unwelcomed weeds! 

If you want to save the hassle of keeping a weed-free garden, contact the landscape maintenance experts at Johnson’s Landscaping



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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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