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7 of the Best (and Worst) Methods of Avoiding Weeds

7 of the Best (and Worst) Methods of Avoiding Weeds

Homeowners are always upset about weeds coming back.  From hobbyist gardeners to professional landscapers, painstaking efforts have been taken to rid our lives of weeds.  Although there is no way of permanently ridding your beds of weeds, there are ways to deter them.  Here are some of the best (and worst) methods of keeping them at bay.

WOOD MULCH:  As with any other form of mulching, results as a weed deterrent are similar.  Wood mulch can help discourage weeds from taking a strong root, but it will not keep seeds from germinating that will eventually need to be removed.  The benefits of mulching are seen more in moisture retention, erosion control insulation, and addition of nutrients to soil.  Wood mulch, in particular, doesn’t decompose as quickly or move as easily as with other forms of mulching.

LEAF MULCH:  Leaves can be great for your garden after being prepped properly (improper prep can result in drainage issues along with mold, fungus and other diseases).  Some leaves can raise the acidity in your garden so you may want to test your soil before trying it.  As far as a weed deterrent, results are similar to using wood mulch – they can still take root and eventually need to be removed.

GRASS CLIPPING MULCH: When properly prepped and applied grass clippings can be an excellent form of mulching, although results as a weed deterrent are comparable to that of wood chip mulching if not worse.  If laid too thickly and not dried properly, grass clippings can be a smelly rotten mess in your garden promoting mold and disease.  Because there are weeds in your lawn, there is a chance that seeds will end up in your garden bed.  NOTE:  Do not use grass clippings in your garden beds if you have applied chemicals in your lawn. 

LANDSCAPE FABRIC:  In theory, landscape fabric is supposed to keep weeds from being able to take root.  In reality, seedlings are still able to sprout and if they are not pulled right away their roots go through the tiny holes in the fabric making them even more difficult to pull without displacement of the weed fabric and top dressing.  Over time, the holes become clogged with dirt causing drainage issues.  Mulch displacement is also an issue as it has nothing to adhere to.  Mulch can shift and move leaving bare spots with nothing but fabric showing through.

NEWSPAPER:  There are many out there who are happy with the results of using newspaper as a weed deterrent.  Personally, I didn’t find that it deterred weeds any more than mulching alone, and was unhappy with the mess it made over time.  

HERBICIDE: Although extremely effective using little effort, the lasting effect of the bad often outweighs the good when using harmful chemicals.  These chemicals can have adverse effects on the health of people and their pets by remaining in the soil and running off into waterways long after they are applied.     

NATURAL REMEDIES: Environmental awareness groups do their best to deter consumers from purchasing herbicides with harmful chemicals by promoting the use of Natural Herbicides.  Usually, these products contain soaps, acetic acid, or botanically based oils.  Usually these kill only the greens on a plant, not effecting the roots.  This means that a particularly strong plant can recover from natural herbicide application.  Overall effectiveness can be improved by using under the right weather conditions, treating the plant when it’s small, and repeating applications according to directions. 

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