Organic Weed Prevention

In my experience a completely weed-free garden is impossible to achieve unless you have an army of helping hands. My approach is to limit their numbers with vigilance rather than try to eradicate them with extreme measures. I find that if I make weed prevention part of my weekly gardening routine, the task becomes less daunting over time.

Here are five simple, organic ways you can keep the weeds at bay.

  1. Pull weeds when they are still small. Not only will they come out easier, you’ll remove annual weeds before they go to seed. Do this after watering or a rain when the ground is wet to make the job easier. Spend the growing season pulling weeds every week and you’ll see fewer weeds the following year.
  2. Leave the hoe in the tool shed. Digging up the soil in a weeded area will not solve the problem. While you will get rid of the existing weeds you will also bring more weed seeds to the surface where conditions are ideal for sprouting. In place of a hoe, try using a forked tool that will enable you to dig out the plants with minimal ground disruption.
  3. Crowd weeds out. Open space is an invitation for weeds to take up residence. Flower beds full of healthy plants or robust groundcovers are your best defense. Keep lawn turf in good condition to minimize weeds.
  4. Smother weeds with mulch. Apply a three to six inch layer of mulch in flower beds to keep weed seeds from sprouting. Those that do pop up will be easier to pull because mulch keeps the ground moist.
  5. Zap weeds with an organic certified herbicidal soap. Herbicidal soaps kill weeds without harming the environment. They work by penetrating the protective coating of plants, causing the plant to dehydrate and die. They will not affect the root system of the plant however, so repeat sprays may be needed. Also, they are non-selective so be careful not to spray your annuals, perennials, and edibles.