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Getting Rid of Weeds in your Garden

Keeping weeds out of your garden is a chore that every gardener will have to deal with. A weed can be defined as any uninvited plant in your garden. These unwanted plants will compete with your vegetables for nutrients and can be a real eyesore. Fortunately, there are many natural solutions for controlling weeds. But before you start pulling weeds…. Make sure to identify them. The types of weeds growing in your garden can offer many clues about the condition of your soil.

Types of Weeds

There are three main types of weeds which include annuals, biennales, and perennials.

Annual Weeds

As their name suggests, annual weeds only live for one year. They survive by producing thousands of seeds during each season. These seeds are spread by nature and the sheer quantity ensures there will be some survivors by next year.  They typically start popping up in early spring and produce seeds by the summer. The best method for controlling annual weeds is to manually pull them from your garden as early as possible. It is important to get them out of your garden before they bolt, or start seeding. Common annual weeds in North America include chickweed, knotweed, purslane, and pigweed.

Perennials

Perennials are often the most common, and most difficult, weeds to get rid of. They live for multiple years at different cycles. Many perennials are characterized by their strong root systems. There are also woody varieties that are more of an invasive plant, such as poison ivy and morning glory. You can control perennials by thoroughly digging them out. It is important to remove the entire root system to prevent it from spreading in the future. Common non-woody examples include thistle, dandelion, star thistle, chicory, and wild sorrel. Woody perennials include poison ivy, poison oak, morning glory, and honeysuckle.

Biennales

Biennales weeds have a 2 year life span. They grow to maturity in the first year, then produce seeds and flowers in the second year. They are far less common than annual and perennial weeds. Controlling biennale weeds should be done manually by pulling them from the garden in the first year. It is important to take care of biennales before they have a chance to spread their seeds. Common biennales include colic weed, burdock, mullein, and parsley.

How Weeds Get into your Garden

Weed seeds can be spread in your garden in a variety of ways. Most commonly, they are spread by birds, the wind, and insects. Whenever you till your soil you are potentially mixing unwanted seeds into spots perfect for germination.

How to Eradicate Weeds from your Garden

Identification

Deciding whether to pull a weed is not as easy as it sounds. When your plants are first starting to sprout, it can be difficult to distinguish between vegetables and weeds. Many weeds look nearly identical to vegetable plants during the early stages of growth. You can prevent this problem by marking or recording where you planted your vegetable seeds. If you are still unsure, you should delay the weeding process until better identification can be made. As your plants continue to sprout, it will become easier to indentify unwanted plants.

Pull Weeds ASAP

Many novice gardeners fail to control weed growth on a consistent basis. Weeds usually grow faster and stronger then the vegetables you have planted. Neglecting to pull weeds for a couple weeks could allow them to completely overtake your garden.  Setting aside 20 minutes a week to pull weeds is usually more than enough time for the average backyard garden.

Completely Remove the Roots

Some weed varieties can produce a deep root system that is hard to remove. The weed will almost certainly return if the root is still alive underground. Also, weeds have evolved to break apart quickly making it difficult to simply pull it out of the ground. You may need to use a garden shovel and dig around the root system.

Hoe the Soil Regularly

Hoeing the soil on a weekly basis will help prevent seeds from germinating in the soil. When weed growth is especially rampant, you may need to hoe the soil several times a week to prevent weeds. It is recommended to hoe on a regular basis even when weeds are not visibly present.

Use Mulch

Keeping a layer of mulch around your plants can protect prevent weed growth. Ideally, a homemade compost would serve as the best possible mulch, but is not the only option. Organic mulch can often be made with items around the house such as compost, cardboard, tree bark, dried leaves, and animal manure.

Also check out the benefits of weeds