How to Prevent Weeds from Growing

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing in Your Garden

Weeds make flower gardens look ugly and have harmful impacts on the plants, deteriorating their growth. There are various methods you can choose to keep your flower garden free from weeds. You can also apply a combination of the methods and achieve a lush, weed-free flower garden.

Why Keep a Weed Free Garden?

1. Weeds can be a Hiding Place for Pests.

Tall grass and other weeds growing in a flower bed may host mosquitoes and other harmful pests. The pests may also feed on your flowers or cause diseases to them.

2. Weeds Compete for Space, Water and Nutrients with Other Plants.

Weeds will compete for water and nutrients with your plants, and may outrun them. Eventually, your flowers will grow weak and may die. Some weed species are also invasive and may also compete for space.

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing

1. Mulching

Mulching refers to covering the soil surface around plants using a thick material such as dried grass or wood chips. When you mulch the surface of the soil, weeds will not get sunlight, which is an essential growing requirement. If there are emerged weeds, they will die, and their seeds will not germinate.

The mulch will also be beneficial to the plants, as they will provide a cool surface, and reduce the rate of evaporation. You will not have to water them frequently. After some time, the mulch will decompose and provide nutrients to the soil.

Mulched flower gardens are not usually appealing to the eye. You can cover the mulched surface using a plastic mulch sheet and give it an attractive appearance.

2. Use Homemade Solutions

1. Corn Gluten

Corn gluten works as a pre-emergent. Apply it on your garden to kill weed seeds that may be present. It will not harm your plants, as long as you don’t apply excess amounts.

2. Vinegar

Apply vinegar on the leaves of the weeds. You can use the common household vinegar since it has 5% acetic acid, which is powerful enough to kill most weeds. If there are stubborn weeds growing in your garden, apply industrial vinegar. Be cautious when using the industrial vinegar as its acetic acid concentration is high and may cause harm.

Do not apply the vinegar on the flowers, as they will die. For this weed-killing method to be more effective, add liquid wash detergent, and apply the mixture regularly on the weeds, until they die. You can also add table salt to the mixture.

3. Maintain a Healthy Soil

Add compost to the soil frequently. The plants will flourish, and they will be able to compete with weeds. Adding compost also results in increased plant yields.

4. Hand Weeding

Getting rid of the weeds by pulling them by hand will only be successful if the weeds are at an early stage, before flowering.  Flowered weeds will spread their seeds.  Days after pulling them, the seeds will germinate. Uproot the whole plant together with its seeds. Pulling them at a young age will also be much easier, as they will not have developed strong, stubborn weeds.

5. Solarization

Solarization involves the killing of weeds and their seeds before planting your flower garden. Till the land until the soil particles are smooth, and water it thoroughly.  Use a dark colored plastic sheet to cover the entire surface of the land and put some weights on its corner edges, so that it is not blown away by the wind. After 2-3 months, the weeds will be killed by the hot soil, and the land will be ready for planting.

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6. Grow Your Flowers Closely

Growing flowers closely provides shade on the soil surface, which discourages the weeds from growing, by depriving them of sunlight.

7. Weed Appropriately

Pull weed seedlings when they are small in size, and when the ground is wet. You can irrigate your flower bed a day prior using a garden sprinkler. Wear garden gloves as you weed to avoid getting hurt.

When pulling out the weeds using a hoe, the soil should be dry, so that the uprooted weeds will die immediately due to lack of moisture.

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8. Plant Ground Cover Flowers

Ground covers take up the empty spaces that would otherwise have been taken up by the weeds. They cover the soil and prevent the emergence of weed seedlings. Apart from discouraging the growth of weeds, they also help in moisture retention, and prevent soil erosion. Ground cover plants also improve the curb appearance of a flower garden. There are several types of ground cover plants you can grow, such as creeping thyme, sedum, and lavender.

9. Water Your Flowers Carefully

If you water the entire garden, weeds will grow on the uncovered parts of the flower bed. Deprive weeds of water by watering your plants only. Watering your plants through drip irrigation replenishes them, while creating a drought for the weeds. Still, you can apply water on the base of the plants with a soaker hose or watering can. This method is more effective in areas which do not receive a lot of rainfall, or for gardeners practicing greenhouse gardening.

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10. Apply a Pre-Emergent

Applying a pre-emergent prevents specific weed seeds from germinating. Note that this method will not kill already existing weeds.

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11. Discourage the Weeds from Growing Right from the Start

When planting a flower garden for the first time, ensure that the soil you use if free from weeds and their seeds. When buying seedlings, ensure that there are no weeds along them. If there are any, carefully remove them from the plant. Also, only use well-aged compost manure.

12. Apply Herbicides

At times, the only way to get rid of weeds is by killing them using chemical herbicides. Herbicides are usually classified into two groups; selective and non-selective. Selective herbicides kill some specified weeds and leaving the other plants healthy and flourishing. Non-selective herbicides kill all types of plants in a garden.

For an existing flower garden, use selective herbicides, which will not harm your plants. If you want to start a new flower garden, you can apply a non-selective herbicide to kill existing plants and weeds, before planting your flowers.

All types of herbicides should be used with a lot of caution, and stored safely, out of reach for kids and pets. When applying them, wear protective gear, including goggles, gloves and protective clothing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I control the growth of crabgrass in my garden?

Crabgrass is usually very stubborn and hard to control. You can use chemical herbicides to get rid of it, or uproot it.

When should I apply a pre-emergent in my garden?

Apply a pre-emergent before you see weeds on your garden, since they do not kill existing weeds, but their seeds.

When should I plant my flowers after applying a non-selective weed killer in my garden?

Many weed killers evaporate 48-72 hours after they are applied. Carefully read the instructions on the wrap bag. If you plant the flowers before the killers evaporate fully, they will get killed.

What kind of chemicals will not harm my pets?

Many chemical herbicides may be harmful to pets. Use organic solutions such as vinegar and liquid wash mixture to get rid of weeds in your garden if you have pets such as vinegar.