It often feels like you can be in a constant battle to control weeds in your lawn and garden. While there is no one surefire way to eliminate weeds entirely, try a combination of the tips below to prevent weed growth on your property.
- Create a Battle Plan: As they often say, the best offense is a strong defense. This will mean thinking more broadly about how you set up your lawn, what plants you decide to plant and in which arrangement, when you should reseed your lawn to prevent weed growth, etc. Having a healthy lawn to begin with can help crowd out weeds by eliminating the open spaces for them to grow. Keeping your lawn competitive by optimally fertilizing is one of the best ways to minimize weeds, according to Richard Zollinger of the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Science.
When it comes to setting up a strong defense, think ahead about using things like pre-emergent herbicides in the early months of the year to eliminate weed growth early on.
- Disturb your soil as little as possible. While it can be very tempting to just start tilling and hoeing away at your soil to pull out weeds, this can unfortunately have an opposite result. Many weed seeds can lay dormant a few inches under the surface, and turning over soil can simply rotate weed seeds, allowing them the sun and water needed to germinate. Be sure to only hoe to surface of the soil in order to pull away small, young weeds.
- Use a protective barrier. There are a few methods to consider when covering your lawn. One of the most popular is mulch. Mulch is an immensely popular barrier that benefits plants by keeping soil moist and depriving weeds of light. It is a natural product that can also provide a healthy environment for critters looking to eat weed seeds as well.
- Alternatives to herbicides. If you do not want to destroy weeds with heavy chemicals that can run off into your other plants, there are a few non-toxic ways to dry out or burn weeds:
- Vinegar and dish soap mixed with table salt in a spray bottle can kill weeds effectively when sprayed directly on the leaves. Just be sure to avoid any plants that you want to keep.
- Alcohol and dish soap is another killer combination for weeds. Again, this drying mixture should only be applied to plants you wish to destroy and does not work well in shady areas.
- Good old fashioned weed pulling. While most people dread the thought of spending endless hours on their hands and knees pulling up weeds, being strategic about when you pull weeds can yield greater results. The old saying “pull when wet, hoe when dry” is still sound advice, as ensuring that you only hoe the ground when there is little chance of dormant seeds being churned to the soil surface will prevent more weed growth in the long run. In addition to this, keeping an eye on your weeds and pulling them out before they go to seed can greatly reduce the likelihood of a second or even third crop. For many species, there are weeks of growth before weeds flower and distribute seeds.
No one method will eliminate all weeds by themselves, but a combination of tried and true tricks that work for you and your schedule is the best way to keep control of your weed growth. Consider personalizing your own weed-control approach and trying a few different techniques to see what is right for you. Or, contact Fox Hollow today for a free consultation!