Not sure about all of you, but in my gardens, flower beds, and my lawn, the annual war against pesky weeds is now in full swing. Making it a grand time for a blog post that covers different methods of engaging these invasive little enemies.
There are, generally speaking, two strategic battle plans to consider when it comes to handling weeds.
One utilizes tools and a more manual process; the other is based on applications of some sort. Our recommendation, for many reasons, is to use natural or organic substances when the latter means is required.
Effective Tools for Weed Control
Hand-to-hand combat with our nutrient-stealing squatters will require an arsenal of effective tools to manage the varying degrees of “weediness” you will encounter. Thankfully, this is where we are uniquely qualified to offer proven, battle-tested solutions! After all, we have been offering tools to do just that for nearly 40 years!
Before delving into the armory, an important note: Fighting weeds requires persistence and consistency. During peak growth, weeds can quickly take over and become tough to manage. So set aside an amount of time that works with your schedule – whether it be 15 or 30 minutes a day, or a dedicated hour a few days a week. This will help you stay on top of them and keep them from taking over your space. Keeping a schedule helps you ensure your plants get all of the room – as well as all of the water and nutrients – they need to stay healthy and strong.
The Trowel & You
For small raised beds and containers, getting a larger tool to work these areas may not be feasible. Your best bet here is to weed by hand, plucking small weeds by the root, and using a small trowel if necessary to dig up more established root systems. If you own the detachable short plastic handle for our Original Garden Weasel, this would be a valuable asset in smaller spaces like this, bringing weeds and root systems to the surface.
WeedPopper Step & Twist
For work in your lawns, tools like the WeedPopper Step & Twist let you move around the yard with little bending or kneeling, grabbing weeds by the root with the added bonus of aerating your yard at the same time.
The Original Garden Weasel
In your gardens and beds, cultivation can be a very effective tactic for small weeds. Breaking up the soil provides easy access to weeds and their entire root. You can then remove them easily by hand or just leave them to wither in the sun. This is where the scissor-like action of the Original Garden Weasel’s bladed wheels do much of the work on your behalf.
Deeper, established weeds will require something a bit more intense. This is where our Garden Claw is called to arms and shines brightly. A tool with many uses, weeding is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to the Claw. Able to go deep and turn up larger clumps, roots and all, this tool is the go-to weapon of choice for the weeds that don’t give in to the WeedPopper or Garden Weasel. In fact, if you can’t get it with the Garden Claw, you better break out the shovel!
Natural & Organic Applications for Weed Control
Attacking weeds sometimes requires an alternative approach. As mentioned above, we lean toward natural, or organic means when applications are the right answer.
Corn Gluten Meal
Corn Gluten Meal is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. Getting it down prior to weed germination is the key. Once it’s down, it should help prevent roots from forming, acting as a pre-emergent – while also playing the role of fertilizer.
Another popular – and effective – “green” herbicide can come right out of the kitchen. Vinegar, mixed with a few ingredients, can be used as as a spray for spot removal. It’s also perfect for our WeedBall applicator when windy conditions, or you want straight lines… or you are just cleaning up a border or edge. An ideal formula would look somethign like this:
1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) vinegar
Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant
(No need to add water)
Shake well – and note – this tends to work better on warm to hot days.
AG Crabgrass Killer
In more southern zones, it’s tough to beat our Garden Weasel AG Crabgrass Killer for a product that is simple, safe, and effective against crabgrass, chickweed, clover, and many more. Available in both consumer and industrial quantities, this all-natural post-emergent alternative to chemical herbicides can simply be sprinkled on without harming St. Augustine, Bahia, Common Bermuda and Centipede grass.
Weed Suppressing Plants
One of the best, most unique ideas I have found for weed control is this: plant perennials that actually suppress weeds! These particular plants help do some of the heavy lifting for you, discouraging weed growth:
- ‘Emerald Blue’ moss phlox (Phlox subulata)
- ‘Thriller’ lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
- ‘Walker’s Low’ Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)
- ‘Golden Fleece’ Dwarf (Solidago sphacelata)
- ‘Albiflorus’ Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox)
- ‘Herman’s Pride’ False Lamium (Lamiastrum galeobdolon)
- ‘Majestic’ Lilyturf (Liriope)
Mulch & Barriers
Using mulch creates a barrier that deprives weeds of the chlorophyll-producing light they need to take over your garden. Plus it looks nice and adds another layer of defense to your weed-fighting strategy. Organic mulch, synthetic mulches, black poly film, and even newspaper can work for barrier material.
There are always additional tactics to employ in the ongoing battle to maintain weed-free lawns, gardens, and flower beds. A combination of the strategies above can give you a a good start to winning the war on weeds.
What are YOU doing to combat pesky unwanted growth in your lawns, gardens & flower beds? Let us know in the comments below, or visit our Facebook page and post your ideas there. We’d love to hear from you!