Are you tired of dealing with annoying weeds in the garden? How can you design a weed-free landscape?
Weeds are the naturally occurring plants that are present in every garden, lawn, patios, and even in cracks in the walkway.
While most of these plants do not disrupt your daily life, they certainly lend a worn-out and unkempt appearance to the surroundings of your home.
If you are a gardener or a landscape designer, you have most likely encountered thousands of weeds. There are many tips and tricks that you can use to get rid of unwanted weeds, but not all of them are truly effective.
This comprehensive guide lists out all the details you need to know for weed-free landscape design.
Comprehensive Guide For A Weed-Free Landscape
- Comprehensive Guide For A Weed-Free Landscape
You need to make efforts to maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape consistently. Removing weeds is only a part of the process. We have summarized all the effective tips, steps, or measures you can use under five broad subheads.
Identifying Garden Weeds
First things first – should you get rid of all garden weeds? Are all weeds harmful?
Any gardening expert will tell you that there are some weeds which are beneficial to your landscape. It is crucial that you identify these weeds and remove the others which do more harm than good. Identifying common weeds can be a challenge. Knowing with certainty which weeds to remove and throw in the trash is half the battle won!
Here is a list of five of the most innocuous weeds you will likely find in your garden.
- Dandelions can be seen in nearly every lawn. Most of us fall prey to the myth that it is a noxious weed, but it offers a plethora of health benefits. You can use dandelion leaves as a substitute for arugula in salads. Why would you do that? Because dandelion leaves are a rich source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Dandelion roots are used medicinally to treat liver and urinary tract problems.
- Clover can be used to make tea. People often seek red clover due to its nutritional benefits. It is a rich source of chromium, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and more. Red clovers contain water-soluble compounds that can act like estrogens, making it useful for improving blood circulation, lowering osteoporosis risk, and addressing PMS and hot flashes.
- Plantain is common all over the globe and shares most of the nutritional aspects of dandelions. Plantain leaves have an array of minerals and nutrients and are often fried in olive oil. You should consume these leaves when they are small because they get bitter as they grow. Plantain leaves have healing properties and can be blended to make a salve which you may apply to cuts.
- Chickweed is found all over North America. It serves as a great land cover as it grows out and not up. Some studies have concluded that chickweed has anti-inflammatory properties. You can brew tea using chickweed leaves and consume it to help with common digestive problems like ulcers or bladder infections. You may even use them as a salve to soothe skin problems like eczema or psoriasis.
- Stinging nettles can hurt you and need to be handled with care. We recommend using gloves and being careful of the needles when you use them. They offer a lot of essential minerals that are hard to find in other foods. You even get a considerable amount of protein from stinging nettles. You should boil them to get the needles to fall off. You can either cook it or prepare tea from it.
Removing weeds is only going to be effective if they do not recur. In the majority of cases, garden weeds can be stubborn and have a history of repeated occurrences. It can be highly frustrating for gardeners to spend their valuable time and money on weeding only to find that they have to do it over and over again.
Here are three common reasons for recurring weeds in your garden:
- The entire plant has to be removed – root, stem, and leaves. If you leave even a small portion of the root in the soil, the weeds may grow again.
- If the surroundings of your garden are not landscaped or have a lot of trees, there are a lot of weeds around. The wind or birds can easily carry the seeds to the garden, allowing for weed growth.
- Your garden has to be dense enough not to provide adequate space for weeds to grow. It is easy for weeds to occupy, spread, and settle down in empty spots in the garden.
One of the key points to remember is to start early. Removing young weeds is more comfortable because of their small roots. You have to be proactive and keep your landscape under regular surveillance for spotting new weeds as soon as they emerge. Once you’ve located the weeds to get rid of, you can employ any of the following techniques and remedies.
Picking a favorable day for weeding will make the process straightforward and save your precious time. As a general rule of thumb, the next day after rainfall is one of the best times to remove those pesky weeds from your garden. Damp soil is loose and enables you to remove the weeds entirely, roots included. The risk of leaving the roots in the ground is negligible when the soil is moist and loose.
Pulling out weeds using your bare hands is probably the oldest and most primitive weeding technique. You can go about pulling weeds out with your hands, but it will only be useful if you exercise caution to pull out the roots. Hand-pulling weeds can be difficult and time-consuming, especially with deep-rooted ones like the dandelion.
When trying to remove a deep-rooted weed, you should consider using a hoe to dig the soil around the stem. Once you get the soil fairly loosened up, grab the stem in a firm grasp and pull. You may need to pull several times for the weed’s roots to detach from the soil.
It is simpler to remove a weed with shallow roots, and you do not need to dig the soil around the stem with a hoe. You can easily pull the weed out with its roots by just grabbing the stem and giving it a gentle pull.
Pulling With a Tool
We are not big fans of weeding using your hands. It is time-consuming, inconvenient, and back-breaking on any given day. Using a gardening tool simplifies the arduous task of removing weeds from your lawn. These tools are readily available in most hardware stores and do not cost a fortune so you can easily use them.
For removing shallow-rooted weeds, we recommend a small garden hoe to dig the soil around the stem. For removing deep-rooted weeds, you should opt for a unique tool known as the fishtail weeder or the winged weeder. Using this tool takes more time than the regular garden hoe as you have to work on each unwanted weed individually, but it gets the job done.
Using the winged weeder is reasonably straightforward – place the blade’s bottom tip next to the stem and press down to push it into the soil. Then tilt it downwards to pull the entire root out. If you do not get it right the first time, repeat it till you get the hang of it.
Weed Removal Products
There is no dedicated machine to pull weeds out of the ground. You can use your hands, gardening tools, or weed removal products. When it comes to the last option, it is easier to use, but the results are not always satisfactory.
You can use organic products available in stores or use home remedies that can be conveniently prepared. Another option is to use chemical-based weed removal products. Let’s take a look at each of these options to understand their pros and cons.
Organic or Home Remedies
Natural or homemade remedies are environment-friendly and do not pose a severe threat to your garden or lawn. Some of the most common solutions at your disposal are:
You can choose from a range of effective organic herbicides available at nurseries and home improvement stores. We recommend buying herbicide that has a practical application method allowing for better control of the distribution. You do not want to spray it on plants near unwanted weeds unintentionally.
Weeds need light to grow. Using organic mulch to cover the soil in your lawn is a useful trick to keep weeds from erupting. Organic mulch is known to host carabid beetles and crickets which are capable of devouring many weed seeds.
Spot killers are homemade remedies that you can use to target undesirable weeds sticking out through cracks in your walkway, patio, or lawn. These weed killers are easy to make and effective. You need to ensure you spray them only on unwanted weeds.
- Salt – Salt should only be used if you do not want anything to grow again in a particular spot, not just weeds. It makes the soil barren. Rock salt is preferred by most gardeners, but any salt will do the trick. Just sprinkle some salt in areas where you want to kill weeds or spray a mixture of salt and water.
- Vinegar – Apple cider or white vinegar works wonders for removing weeds. Just spray it near the weed stem so the roots can soak it up. You may have to spray it several times to kill the weeds.
- Boiling Water – The most straightforward home remedy for a weed killer is boiling water. Pour it on unwanted weeds to burn them out and then remove the dead remains.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda has high levels of sodium, which is unfavorable for weed growth. Sprinkling fistful of baking soda will keep dandelions and other weeds from growing.
- Bleach – Undiluted bleach can be poured to remove weeds. It usually takes a couple of days for weeds to die from bleach, and you can pull them easily from the soil.
- Vodka – If you have some vodka lying around, you can mix about one ounce of it with two cups of water and a few drops of soap to create a weed killer. Carefully apply it on the leaves repeatedly. This remedy only works in direct sunlight.
Weed killers made from chemicals come in two forms – concentrate and spray. You can get the concentrate and mix it water or purchase the spray. You need to be careful while using these chemical products as they are not environment-friendly and can seriously damage your plants.
You need to spray chemical weed killers on each unwanted weed cautiously. If you accidentally spray it on one of your plants, it will die too. We recommend using chemical products only if necessary. Some products like the Weed-B-Gon kill various types of weeds, including crabgrass, dandelion, and clover.
It usually takes a day or two for the weeds to die, and then you have to remove them by hand. It is a time-taking process but much more relaxed than pulling live weeds out by hand. One of the drawbacks of chemical products is that they affect what they impact. You cannot spray into the soil and reach the roots, so you have to ensure that you spray a significant amount on the stems.
They say, “Prevention is better than cure,” and we could not agree more. When it comes to weeding, what if you did not have to do it over and over again? Is there a legitimate, foolproof way to prevent weeds from growing back in your lawn? There are a few measures you can take to prevent the outbreak of weeds.
While chemicals offer a temporary solution, landscape fabric can keep weeds at bay for a longer time, often up to several years. It essentially blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the soil in the covered area, not allowing weeds to thrive. You can purchase rolls of landscape fabric from hardware stores.
Landscape fabric has to be used in a certain way to derive the best results. Follow these steps for long-lasting weed prevention:
- The first task to be undertaken is the removal of all weeds from the area you want to cover. Take time to get this right and ensure that no unwanted vegetation exists when you proceed to the next step.
- Unroll the fabric, cut it to fit the area, and roll it out. You will need to cut X-shaped openings in the fabric at all the spots where your plants are located. There is no shortcut here, and this step requires patience and precision.
- Finally, cover the fabric with mulch to keep it in place. We recommend using organic mulch. You can choose from bark nuggets, wood chips, straw, shredded leaves, or cocoa chips.
There is a homemade alternative to landscape fabric that you may use. All you need is some newspapers and mulch. Roll out newspapers in layers of at least ten sheets, wet them with water to hold them down, and cover them with two inches of mulch. You can add multiple layers of newspaper and mulch if needed.
Chemical Lawn Fertilizer
A fertilized lawn is less prone to mass weed outbreaks than an unfertilized one. It is recommended that you fertilize the lawn at least twice a year – in the spring and the fall. You can buy specialized lawn fertilizers with weed control characteristics, like the Turf Builder with Weed Control from Scott.
One of the most straightforward tools at your disposal is a weed preventer granule like Preen. You can use these to stop weeds from growing back temporarily for up to three months. Some products come with an easy-to-use bottle and dispenser, allowing you to spread the granules all around quickly.
Getting rid of unwanted weeds is not the be-all-and-end-all of maintaining landscapes. Preserving it to uphold its beauty and health pays enormous dividends in the long run. We are talking not only about aesthetic beauty but also a serene retreat for you and your guests. Who does not like a well-maintained lawn?
Looking at the bigger picture, we included some details apart from weed removal to help in your landscape designing endeavors. Here are some tips you can use for preserving and maintaining landscapes.
- Cultivating healthy soil is a prerequisite for a healthy lawn. When starting a garden from bare soil, till the top four inches and then add high-quality organic compost to ensure minimal soil compaction. When starting from turf grass, add organic compost mulch to add vital nutrients to the soil, which will prevent weeds from growing.
- Avoid digging unless necessary. Weed seeds are naturally present all over and can be brought to the surface if the soil is disturbed. They can remain dormant for long periods. As a rule of thumb, salve the areas where you dig with mulch or plants.
- While designing the landscape, pay close attention to the gaps between plants. If you place plants close to each other, weeds do not get adequate space to grow and thrive
- Weeds need water to grow. You can reduce weed seed germination by up to 70 percent by depriving them of water. Place soaker or drip hoses beneath the layer of mulch lets you water plants but not weeds.
Unwanted weeds end up using the water and nutrients that your garden needs. To maintain an optimal landscape design, it is imperative that you identify the unwanted weeds, remove them, and prevent them from growing again. Always exercise caution to ensure that you do not damage the plants in the weeding process.
Landscape designing is an intricate and meticulous art. It will be a shame for an excellent design to be spoiled by weeds. We hope these tips will help you achieve a weed-free landscape.
Till next time, stay weed-free!