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Secret Guide to Weed Control

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

The big secret to controlling weeds in your garden is correctly identifying it. Once you know what you are up against it is relatively simple to destroying it. You can use organic and inorganic methods to have that great, beautiful lawn or vegetable garden.

 

There are millions of weed seeds waiting to sprout when the right conditions come along in every acre of land. It is a constant battle best handled slowly and continuously. Do your best to hoe or pull weeds every day or two in your garden.

 

Keeping weeds down to a manageable level makes it so much easier than waiting for weeks and trying to get them all at one time. You want to get rid of weeds while they are small and definitely before they produce seeds.

Weed Identification

Know Your Enemy

Knowing exactly which type of weed that is growing is of ultimate importance. Treating a weed with the wrong methods will not work in lots of cases and may even make the problem worse. Here is my favorite place to look for weeds.

 

Most weeds are annual plants. They grow from seed released every year and die when it gets cold. These types seem easy to control but they have a few tricks up their sleeves.

  • They normally make thousands of seeds and the fly all over the place.
  • Their seeds can remain dormant for years waiting for the right conditions to sprout.

Perennial weeds can be challenging to kill and get rid of permanently as they seem to keep coming back. Most of these produce a few seeds but spread primarily by their root system spreading underground. Another good weed identification source is here.

 

To get rid of these you have to get all of the root out of the ground or you'll just make the situation worse. Herbicides are one way to tackle these. Using mulch as shown below is another great method for these bad plants.

Cultural Controls

Easy Weeding

Using methods such as mulching heavily you can control weeds before they even get a chance to start. You also help improve your soil and help stabilize the soil moisture level.

 

Cover crops are another excellent way to smother weeds. Planting winter rye or wheat in the fall helps add nitrogen to garden soil and also helps control winter weeds.

Hoeing

Do It Yourself

Hoeing is a time-tested way to get rid of lots of different kinds of weeds. Just pulling them by hand works for small plots.

 

Make sure your hoe is sharp as it makes this job easier and actually safer. Just drag the cutting edge below the soil level cutting off the heads of weeds. Pretend you are sweeping a floor in your house is the proper way to hoe weeds.

 

I love using a Hula-Hoe (this is the one I love and use) or circle hoe. You can cut weeds on the pull or push stroke and get into the tiniest of edges.

 

Also a regular garden hoe works quite well. I have a big one I use and my wife has a smaller one as she is a small lady and my large one is hard for her to use easily.

Gardening Hoe
Credit: http://www.sxc.hu

Hand Pulling

Yep this works well and let's you look at your plants closeup!

Yep the old standby, pulling weeds by hand. This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rid of weeds if your plot is small enough. Usually square-foot gardening and raised beds used for vegetable gardening are really easy to use this method of weed control.

 

Just pull out weeds by their roots and keep repeating. Sooner or later you'll get them all. Do this in small spurts and keep at it. You'll notice over time that less and less weeds are growing. Combine this with mulching and you have a great weed control program.

 

When you first plant vegetables, make sure you don't pull up any of your edible plants like onions. Small, freshly planted vegetables can be easily mistaken for weeds.

Rototilling

This Works Pretty Well

If you use a rototiller in the walkways for weed control, set the controls to just turn over the top one or two inches of soil. Any deeper and you may bring old weed seeds to the top and they will sprout.

 

Do not ever, ever till Jerusalem artichokes, comfrey, dandelions or quack grass. All of these plants grow from the tiniest bit of plant left. If you till them up, they will grow back and be an even worse problem. If you do rototill them, plant a thick cover crop of rye, clover or wheat to smother them.

Mulching

Get rid of the bad and improve your soil!

Throwing lots of mulch in your garden or flower beds is a fantastic way to help control weeds. Thick layers of mulch will not only smoother weeds from getting any sunlight which they must have.

 

Mulch also helps improve your soil. If you do nothing other than throwing lots of mulch on your garden plot, you'll slowly improve the soil tremendously. This is my preferred method of weed control and soil improvement. All grass clippings and leaves get thrown in my vegetable garden.

 

Any weeds that do manage to grow thru your mulch are easily pulled up as they will most likely have very shallow roots.

 

If you don't have enough grass clippings or leaves, then plastic mulch will work ok. I've read quite a lot that the red plastic mulch is not really that good, so get a good mulch like the one above that biodegrades.

Vinegar and salt weed killer
Credit: http://www.sxc.hu

Organic Control

Mix Your Own Concoction

Using a vinegar, salt and herbicide that is soap based are all organic weed killers that work great.

 

When using vinegar and salt, you'll want to ensure that the area you spray is really something that you want to kill. Using this close to your good plants will not turn out well.

 

Since vinegar makes soil more acid and salt can leach to areas you don't want it to, be prudent in where you apply this. I like using it up against fences and around the house. Using it for the cracks in your patio or driveway is another good use. When getting ready to put down a brick path or concrete, you'll find this works very good also.

 

Investigate your other options before using this and going wild with it. This combination works really well but it is going to be broadcast over a larger area than just hoeing or weeding.

Soap Based Herbicide

Organic Commercial Killer

This stuff kills plant leaves by damaging their surfaces. The good thing is that it is rather harmless after about 48 hours or so.

 

You want to apply this directly to the leaves of the plants you want to get rid of. Be careful of over-spraying onto your good plants.

 

The younger the weed plant is, the better this works.

 

Do not use this on any plants which you plan on eating. None of this stuff is certified to be used on food plants that I am aware of. It will not harm any micro-organisms in the soil itself.

Boiling Water

Simple, Cheap and Effective

Yep this works quite well. But a couple of cautions are in order. Boil some water and then drain it on the bad plants to kill them.

 

  • You are dealing with a large pot of very hot water. It is easy to get burned.

  • Use extreme caution.
  • Along with killing plants, this will kill worms and other beneficial organisms in the soil.
  • Works best with annual plants.
  • Quite useful on harmful plants like poison ivy and oak. It will take multiple applications but then you won't be handling plants that make you break out in a rash.

String Trimmer

You can use this to some degree. But it doesn't work that well. You'll have to keep going over the same area time after time until the plant eventually dies. If you let the stalk or leaves grow for more than a couple days, it's not really effective as the plant can renew itself.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a lot of methods to use in controlling weeds.

 

The main theme if you haven't noticed it, is to start when they are small and young and keep at it.

 

Best of Luck!

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Comments

Nov 1, 2013 6:51pm
shar-On
Great information on weeds. They are a pain. My mum and dad recently went away and dad sprayed their small lawn with roundup trying to kill it as they were thinking of replacing with artificial. Trouble with that was it rained a few days after and when they returned from holidays the weeds were about ten feet tall. And yes the lawn was still growing too.
Rain diluted the weed killer. Rated up
Nov 2, 2013 2:51am
collinsj
Thanks for the comment. And yes weeds can be a real pain.

The key is to keep at it. Sooner or later you'll get control of them.

Best of Luck!
Nov 3, 2013 7:36am
Missagua
Great to see so many options that do NOT include commercial toxic products. Thanks for the post.
Nov 3, 2013 12:57pm
collinsj
Thanks for your comment. Yea there are a few organic methods to control weeds. Think about what our forefathers did before there was Roundup.

Best of Luck!
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