Weeds are one of the most persistent pests plaguing crop producers, homeowners, and landscape gardens. While at times it feels like a never-ending battle to keep the gardens maintained and weed free, there are some methods to help you.

Hand Pulling– Sometimes nothing compares with good, old-fashioned manual labor. Hand-pulling weeds is often the very best way to stay one step ahead of them. Pulling the weeds by hand is much easier when the ground is wet, and soft so working soon after a rain will make the job easier. Removing weeds when they are young also helps to make the chore easier, as the roots aren’t as deep. Be sure to remove perennial weeds completely, so that they do not have a chance of using their stolons, runners, or tubers to reproduce and you end up with more weeds than you started with.

Mulch – While every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Mulch benefits plants by not only keeping the soil moist and cool, but also deprives the seeds of light. Organic mulches can host crickets and beetles, which seek out and devour seeds.

Landscape fabric– Many homeowners turn to landscape fabric to thwart weeds. However, there are both benefits and drawbacks to this. I personally do not recommend using it for most gardens. One of the biggest drawbacks is its effect on soil nutrients. Dead leaves, mulch, and other organic material cannot biodegrade into the soil, so the nutrient levels drop within the garden. Other drawbacks include: spreading plants are restricted in their growth, moving or transplanting is difficult, or trees and shrubs can become girdled as they grow.

Fabric needs to be covered with stones, pebbles, or mulch. Strong weed roots can eventually grow through, making them much harder to remove, and seeds can germinate on top of the fabric, where the mulch and plant debris has turned to compost. The benefits of landscape fabric: Hardly any weed growth in the beginning, soil does not dry out as quickly, and the soil warms up earlier in the spring.

Preemergent herbicide– Preemergent herbicide is an important tool in weed management, but properly timing the application can be tricky. Preemergent herbicides prevent the germination of seeds by inhibiting a key enzyme. They do not affect any established plant or kill the weed seed. The best time for application for preemergent is in the early fall, early spring, and mid-summer, before the temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees.

Herbicide – Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers are chemical substances used to control unwanted plants. Selective herbicides control specific weed species, while leaving the desired plants or crops relatively unharmed. Nonselective herbicides, sometimes called total weedkillers, can be used in large areas, with no valued plants. They kill all plant material with which they come in contact.

A combination of tactics can minimize cost and effort and maximize the effectiveness of weed control. Call Alexa for more information on a program to suit your garden.