Weeds can turn a wonderful garden into a mess very quickly. They do not come to your garden magically; weed seeds can remain active in soil for many years. If you practice diligent weeding from the start you can make your soil relatively weed-free in a few years. Eventually, weeding will be an easy task. However, if you let them grow (even for one season!) the weeds will deposit thousands of seeds, and you’ll be doing constant battle with new weeds for many years to come.
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged—weeds can be controlled with a little diligence, and weeding is a part of gardening. Time spent weeding is time spent out of doors enjoying your plants, and that is quality time.
Here are four ways to control weeds. Some combination of these should work for you:
Suppression involves prevention. Use mulches (natural and artificial) to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Mulches help keep the soil at an even temperature and moisture content which helps prevent some weed seeds from germinating.
Many weeds thrive in adverse soil conditions. By keeping your soil well fertilized and amended you can reduce the amount of weeds that will sprout in your soil.
Selecting plants that have dense foliage and growth habits reduces the amount of sun underneath the plants. This in turn stifles weed growth. Although some weeds will be aggressive enough to push through the foliage canopy, most weeds will remain underdeveloped due to the lack of direct sunlight.
Quite simply, get out there and pull up any weeds you see. The sooner and more often you pull them the better off your garden will be. Some weeds will be more difficult to slay than others. For instance, many perennial weeds spread with underground root systems and you have to remove the roots to prevent regrowth. As a rule, weeds that break off at the surface will sprout again.
Hint: Many weeds can be carefully “coaxed” out of the ground, roots and all, with a firm grasp of the weed at the base and a slow pull. Weeding takes practice and overtime you will get a “feel” for different kinds of weeds. A great tool to add to your gardening tool box is a simple hand weeder or “Dandelion” puller. To use it, insert it into the ground next to the weed and either pry the weed out roots and all or slice the roots well below the surface and pull out the weed.