(Natural News) Weeds are a pain for gardeners. For starters, they compete with plants for water and nutrients and can overrun the garden if left unchecked. They can also cause plants to wither and even stunt their growth. Luckily, there are many ways to naturally get rid of weeds and keep them from coming back.
Check your garden for any weeds and consider the following strategies: (h/t to OldWorldGardenFarms.com)
1. Stop disturbing the soil
Nearly every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds. However, only those in the top inch or two of soil actually get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and working the soil brings weed seeds closer to the surface, so always assume there are weed seeds every time you work a patch of ground. Dig only when you need to and immediately “salve” the disturbed spot with plants or organic mulch like straw and leaves.
On the other hand, you can minimize soil disturbance on your lawn by using a small, sharp knife with a narrow blade to slice through the roots of dandelions and other lawn weeds. This severs them from their feeding source and eliminates the need to dig out each weed individually.
2. Mulch your beds
Mulch benefits your plants by keeping the soil cool while depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches can even host beneficial crickets and beetles that seek out and devour weed seeds.
Take note that some light can still pass through chunky mulches. Some gardeners often discover this too late and end up with mulch laced with weed seeds. Therefore, it’s important to replenish the mulch so that it’s always at least two inches deep. Don’t pile it on any thicker or else it can deprive the soil of oxygen for your plants.
In any case, you can keep weeds from pushing through the soil by covering its surface with a layer of cardboard or newspaper and then spreading organic mulch materials over that.
3. Don’t disturb mulched beds
It may be tempting to re-till your mulch. However, disturbing the layer of mulch on your garden beds is a great way to help weed seeds lying on the surface of the mulch find a home in the soil underneath.
Put simply, every time you disturb mulched beds, you’re helping to plant a new batch of weeds that will eventually crowd out your plants and compete with them for nutrients.
Instead of re-tilling your mulch, add a thin layer of new mulch on top of the old one.
4. Plant cover crops
Growing some plants close together helps cut down weed growth because there won’t be much space for weeds. But in cases where you can’t grow plants close together, try planting cover crops. As the name implies, cover crops literally cover the ground so that weeds can’t utilize it. Cover crops also rejuvenate the soil below, adding organic matter to it and helping fix nitrogen levels for the growing plants.
Cover crops can be mowed off once they’ve done their job and planted again in the spring. This can all be done without disturbing the soil. Here are some of the best cover crops for gardens and small farms.
5. Be consistent
If you want to keep weeds away in the long term, you’ll have to consistently put in the work. Try to take at least five minutes every day surveying your garden for new weed growth. Get rid of weeds as soon as they appear, when they are easier to pull and before they have the chance to spread.
This way, you’ll only be looking at about 3o to 60 minutes of weeding per week. That’s considerably better than spending hours clearing a garden that gets overrun by weeds frequently.
What may look like a tiny, harmless weed today can overrun your garden if left unchecked. Try any of the listed strategies above for naturally getting rid of weeds and preventing them from coming back. (Related: Natural weed control: 9 Herbicide-free tricks.)
Learn other gardening tips and tricks by reading more articles at HomeGardeningNews.com.