Weeds are probably a gardener’s worst enemy, threatening the health and beauty of your garden. They seem to creep up when you aren’t looking, and it seems that as soon as you get rid of them they just reappear again and again. Though it is tempting to destroy them with Roundup or other chemical weapons, experts encourage you to reconsider. Not only are chemical weed killers more expensive and less effective than some other methods of killing weeds, they are terribly bad for not only your garden, but to the environment as well. The chemicals from these weed killers are quite dangerous, as they leach on to fruits and vegetables, and runoff can trickle down into groundwater.
The following strategies are safe and inexpensive options for weed control without chemicals:
MULCH, MULCH, MULCH!
One of the most successful ways to control your weed problem is to use mulch. Using any kind of barrier that blocks light and suffocates weeds can work as mulch, including bark, straw, hay, dried leaves, and even newspaper and cardboard. A bonus is that organic mulch also improves the quality of your soil, adds nutrients and reduces water loss as a a result of evaporation.
PREVENT WEEDS FROM GOING TO SEED
By keeping a close eye on weeds such as dandelions, you can prevent them from becoming established and spreading by going to seed. A single dandelion plant can produce 15,000 seeds every year, with each seed surviving for up to six years in soil. That’s a LOT of future weeds! So pull them before their flowers transform into the puffballs that effortlessly blow around your yard and spread the seeds that will become your weed nightmare.
VINEGAR AND OTHER ORGANIC HERBICIDES
Concentrated vinegar poured over weeds can kill them without the risk of harmful toxic runoff. Organic soaps also kill weeds. But be careful, as vinegar doesn’t play favorites — it will kill any plant it comes in contact with, so avoid pouring it carelessly.
Typically made of plastic, burlap or other natural fibers, landscape fabrics are thin barriers with tiny holes that are effective at blocking the growth of weeds yet let in water and air into the soil. They are most successful when used in combination with bark mulch or rocks placed on top.
Till and HOE
Consistently turning and loosening your soil can be useful in controlling your weed population by burying many weed seeds at depths that limit their ability to establish themselves. But caution is advised as too much tilling may possibly bring up dormant seeds back to the top of the soil where they are able to germinate.
Not all of these methods will be 100% effective. But with diligence and regular maintenance, you should be able to keep weed growth to a minimum without using harmful chemicals.
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