6 Tips to Keep Weeds out of Your Garden

Weeds are the true enemy of gardeners. They steal the life of vegetables and flowers and make gardens look overgrown and disorganized. Unfortunately, removing weeds isn’t just a one-time project. Rather, it is a continuous process that’s required for maintaining a beautiful garden. Luckily, there are tricks and tips you can use to keep these pesky weeds out of your garden. Here are the six that I think you need to know:

1. Remove Bare Soil

Bare soil is at the root of the most common weed issues. Bare soil is basically an open invitation for weeds to become established. By using mulch and protecting your soil, you can prevent weeds from growing. Straw and shredded leaf mulch along with compost will help to keep weeds out of your garden.

2. Don’t Dig and Till Your Soil

Stop tilling your garden. All tilling does is takes all of the weed seeds laying on the surface, where they may never germinate and plants them into the soil. You are essentially planting weeds by doing this. Tilling over time can actually destroy your soil’s structure. Instead, heavily mulch your soil with grass clippings, straw or shredded leaves to keep weeds to a minimum while adding vital nutrients to the soil as they break down.

3. Use Newspaper

Newspaper is a great weed barrier. First, spread newspaper over the area, eight or 10 pages thick. The paper can be weighed down with stones and covered with half an inch of potting soil or compost. Spread just enough to cover the newsprint; then water the area.
Continue to water the newspaper mulch every day unless it rains. A month later, when it is time to plant flowers, the paper will have begun its transition to compost. At the same time, the weeds under the paper will have turned from green to yellow and tan. It is okay to lift a paper edge in order to check on progress. Be sure to replace the paper, though. The weedy roots will not be dead yet, and the weeds will revive in sunlight.
When it is time to plant, tear or cut a small hole in the newspaper where each plant will grow. Just lift the plant from the container, set it in the custom-made hole, and scatter the soil from the holes on top of the newspaper layer. If you want to start any flowers from seed, bury the seeds in the half-inch of compost topping. The developing roots will grow down through the newspaper layer as long as it stays damp.

4. Boiling Water

Boiling water will definitely kill weeds but you must be careful because it will also kill any other plant it touches. If you use this method, make sure you pour the boiling water just a few inches above the plant to avoid it splashing everywhere. For weeds that are in direct sunlight, combine one-part vodka to six parts water, add in a few drops of dish soap and spray the weeds plenty with the mixture. The weeds usually shrivel up in a few hours.

5. Use the Old-Fashioned Way

You could always go old school and pull out the weeds by hand. This may take some time and it may not be entirely effective as many of these weeds will grow back, but it is a good option if you have just a few weeds that need to be tackled. You could also find various sprays that will kill weeds, but you’ll need to be careful not to spray your plant life.

6. Use Cornmeal

Yes, cornmeal is effective at keeping weeds at bay. Just sprinkle it on the weeds to keep it from germinating but be mindful that it will keep most seeds from germinating so you don’t want to sprinkle it too close to freshly planted flowers or vegetables.

Are you considering a gardening project in the near future? Contact me today for recommendations for local garden suppliers and consultants.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.