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My Garden Weed Control

Updated on January 9, 2015
Pulled weeds!
Pulled weeds! | Source

Garden weed control is THE most challenging part of gardening. After all, how good will your lovely flower garden look if there are more weeds than flowers? What if the weeds are taller than the flowers? Just a few questions to put you in the right frame of mind about garden weed control.

Controlling weeds in the garden is no easy feat as any good gardener can tell you. No matter what you do or what you use it is a never ending battle. Time and time again you will watch weeds pop up out of nowhere, in places they've never been before.

Of course the best way to control weeds is to prevent them - don't let them even start to grow - but that doesn't always work. So what do you do? How do you deal with weeds in your garden?

Before weeding near my hostas
Before weeding near my hostas | Source
After weeding
After weeding | Source

First of all what is a weed? It is any unwanted or unattractive plant in your garden. Different weeds for different people. There are some weeds that people like in their garden, for example the butterfly weed is sometimes grown in gardens because of its bright orange flowers and it's ability to attracts butterflies. Another weed-like invasive plant that can be found in gardens is spiderwort. It is often considered a weed because it is invasive even though it has a lovely little purple flower. It spreads like wildfire! So though there is a fine line between what is a weed and what isn't, I want to focus on what we think of as weeds and what we want to do about it!

Most people know pesticides can be used to kill weeds but we also know there are drawbacks to using pesticides. If you have small children or very inquisitive animals it is not always a good idea to use pesticides potent enough to truly eradicate weeds. Other types of weed killer may kill the flowers you are trying to show off. So, though I might use some weed killer I prefer pulling and preventing.

Better Homes and Gardens identifies thirty-four common weeds on their website. I think I have thirty-three of them growing in my gardens! I have no doubt many of you are familiar with dandelions (though some do use it to make dandelion tea), crab grass, clover, creeping charlie, plantain, nettle...just to name a few.

Additionally, the most recommended weed control on the Better Homes and Gardens website is mulch. I concur completely. There is nothing like mulch in your garden. Mulch serves a multitude of purposes, it prevents weeds, it keeps plants moist longer, and it looks really nice when distributed in flower beds. You can get wood mulch in different colors (red and black are the main ones) or you can get different types of organic mulch. If you don't want to use 'natural' mulch and you have extra money to spend, you can get rubber mulch, but I've never dealt with it. I've seen in at shows but never in anyone's yard.

Identifying weed roots

Different weeds, different roots.  This one was a long one.
Different weeds, different roots. This one was a long one. | Source
Some weed roots are pretty large
Some weed roots are pretty large | Source
Some weed roots are somewhat woody looking
Some weed roots are somewhat woody looking | Source
Some weed roots are small, white and thin and adhere to the dirt
Some weed roots are small, white and thin and adhere to the dirt | Source

When you first start your garden, whether it's a new garden you're planting for the first time, or your old garden beginning to bloom in the springtime, the best way to begin is by getting all of the weeds out of your garden. Pulling works sometimes but most times leaves the root of the weed behind giving it a head start on regrowing exactly where you don't want it.

When you first begin some weeds may be so tiny that you can easily miss them. The best thing to do is sit yourself down with some gloves, a good sturdy garden trowel, some weed preventative granules like Preen or Miracle Gro, get comfortable and plan on spending some time working on your weeds.

Begin in a small section and pull out what weeds you can see. After you've finished pulling the weeds in a small section, take your trowel and turn the ground over being careful not to disturb the roots of your flowers or other plants. When you turn the ground over you will see small white roots or sometimes red somewhat woody looking roots that don't belong to your plants and you can easily pull them out of the ground, well most of them you can. Other weed roots you really need to dig out as they grow deep into the soil. Turn the ground once more to be sure you've gotten all the roots that don't belong then move on to the next section. Continue until you have completed your garden bed or if you have a large bed or more than one bed, when you are finished for the day, sprinkle the weed preventative on the ground and water lightly. (I use a lid to keep with me as I weed and put my weeds in it as I pull them out, you can see what I mean in the first picture in this hub.)

If you have your own compost pile it is NOT a good idea to put your weeds on your compost pile. The weeds will take root and grow in your compost, certainly not good for your compost. Throw them out....take them to your nearest landfill or whatever other method you can use to dispose of "green waste".

What the ground looks like after spreading Preen Weed Preventive on it
What the ground looks like after spreading Preen Weed Preventive on it | Source
Good old dandy lion -- actually dandelion
Good old dandy lion -- actually dandelion | Source
I searched through 140 weed names and pictures on  and couldn't find the name of this weed...note  clover in foreground and background
I searched through 140 weed names and pictures on and couldn't find the name of this weed...note clover in foreground and background | Source

Your next step is to cover the weed-free area with mulch. Spread the mulch at least two inches thick. The thicker the better. As years go by and you turn your soil each spring, the mulch will build up in the soil and enrich the soil. Before you know it you'll have really good soil and you'll see your flowers getting bigger and better...of course this won't completely deter your weeds. They will still show up, but just as your soil is enriched year after year, your weeds will pull out easier and easier.

I am fortunate to have a local company that makes it's own black organic mulch. It does contain some wood chips but it also contains lots of organic matter. I only started using it last year but the size of my flowers increase plus, the black looked neat and natural around my plants. It is called Dynamulch, in case you have the opportunity to find it anywhere.

I have decided weeds really like the way I care for my garden and choose to live there.

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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I bet I know what you have been doing! I'm not a fan of weeds. Mulch does work great for keeping them at bay! This hub has my votes and share!

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      How did you ever guess ;)

      I've been battling for years but the mulch does seem to at least make them easier to pull out and keep their numbers down.

      Thanks for the vote Linda.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      It will be me and the weeds for a while I think! Thank you for such great info--and for giving me hope!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I like your writing and sense of humor. Weeds like my gardens, too, and I've about given up. I don't have the patience to pull them out one by one. When I mulch, I do need to make it thicker, though. I have messed up with that one a few times, with the weeds and grass easily returning. Great hub. Gave you many votes, even the "funny" one. Sharing, too!

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      There's always hope Audrey and we can't let the weeds win! Good luck.

      Victoria I'm glad you liked my hub. Thicker mulch is always better it does help to smother the darling little weeds somewhat. Try sprinkling some weed preventative to keep new ones from growing.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Weed preventative--what is best? Preen? or anything???

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      My friend with the bright green thumb! Your yard must be so pretty. You're very knowledgeable about flowers and plants and how to care for it all. Gosh....there's something I don't have in common with you......I have a few house plants and that's it. Jim does all the "outdoor" work and he really does a beautiful job.

      I do know that people who do this, swear that it is so relaxing and enjoyable......and then of course, you get to appreciate the beauty of your work!

      Does it count that I know how to WEED OUT nasty people?? LOL UP ++

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Dang,Effer, I want this guy's green thumb!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Thanks for the helpful hub. Pine bark mulch is very good because it breaks down very slowly and will do its work for a long time. Happy gardening

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Victoria I use Preen but Miracle Gro's weed preventative is just as good I think. The main thing is they prevent weeds, will not kill or stop weeds that are already growing.

      Ah Effer, of course you would weed out nasty people! I can't grow plants indoors, I'm a killer when it comes to house plants. Actually gardening is relaxing, I mean I can think of who or what I don't like as I pull each weed!! Jim's such a sweety. Larry does the lawn but no flowers.

      Cam, good to know, I'm sure. Thanks for stopping by.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      ROFLMAO!!!! I'll bet you weed like crazy when someone ticks you off!! "and THIS is what I think of you.....UP by the roots and out you go!!"' SCRAM!

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      How right you are! Imagine, I can totally dispose of them!!!

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Up vote and Useful. As an avid flower and vegetable gardener, I found your article extremely interesting. Weeds are my nemesis. I mulch my flowers, shrubs and trees as a deterrent to the weeds that try to find their way into everything. However, when it comes to my vegetable garden, I am usually out there doing some form of weeding and raking on a daily basis. You see, my garden is organic and I use no chemicals. It is not advisable to mulch around edible plants because mulch (for whatever the reason) has arsenic in it. The only chemical I use is to kill an invasive vine named Heather that will take over a lawn, strangle decorative grasses, etc. The trick is to spray this weed as soon as it flowers. It is frustrating to say the least.

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      I've never heard of the "heather vine"pagesvoice. Isn't it amazing how every single day we learn something new!

      Thank you for reading my hub but more importantly thank you for the great comment and information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions! We are fighting this battle right now and of course Bev will not use pesticides so we are fighting the old-fashioned battle. Thanks for the tips.

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      It is definitely an uphill battle Bill. The best thing without pesticides is a THICK layer of mulch. Good luck.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      As a gardener I found this hub very useful. Hopefully I will be able to use these methods to control weeds.

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Glad you liked it Vinaya. It works for me, though I must admit here the mulch is the key to keeping weeds away!

    • klanguedoc profile image

      Kevin Languedoc 4 years ago from Canada

      Very useful and I have voted up and linked this to FB. I struggle so much with the weeds. they are always trying to chock my rose beds. I am going apply your advice tomorrow evening, or maybe tomorrow morning before work. Anyway, Thanks a lot. Your Hub is Weederful lol.

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Esther, sorry I didn't answer sooner but your comment didn't come up until today for some reason. It takes time to learn the difference, especially when the plants are young. Good luck.

      Klanguedoc, thank you for reading and especially for linking to FB! So glad you found my hub Weederful, I was hoping it would be helpful. Hope the advice works for you.

    • thost profile image

      thost 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      This is good sound advice. Will vote up.

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Thanks for reading thost...hope it helps.

    • rbm profile image

      rbm 4 years ago

      I agree that mulch is the best weed control, and it doesn't use any chemical whatsoever. We've been using sheet mulching techniques with cardboard/paper and straw, and it really works well. Good hub, voted up!

    • tillsontitan profile image
      Author

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      That's great rbm, it seems with sand the newspaper just wouldn't work and there are too many little critters around here to use straw. Thanks for the vote.

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