Weeds are a gardener’s nightmare and can really spoil your enjoyment of you garden. A gardener’s dream is to have a lush, green lawn and neat, colorful borders all free from weeds. It is said that prevention is better than cure, and this is certainly true for weeds. Let weeds take hold in your garden and you will always be fighting them, and it will always be a struggle. Weeding out established weeds can be a backbreaking task, prevention is definitely the key.
Follow the following tips to help prevent weeds invading and taking hold in your garden.
1. Tackle weeds or grass sprouting up between paving slabs immediately – Either use a good weedkiller to kill them or use an old knife to pry them out. Don’t let them spread. Re-point any gaps with cement to stop them growing through again.
2. Membrane – If you are starting with an empty border or flower bed, you could lay down weed membrane, black plastic from a mulch sack (perforated for drainage) or a layer of newspaper or old carpet to prevent weeds taking root or pushing their way through. Polypropylene is best because it is water permeable and you can just cut into it to plant new plants. Cover with mulch, bark chippings, weed-free straw or gravel.
3. Mulch – Bark chippings are light and so have a tendency to blow around the garden, gravel can get on your lawn and wreck your lawnmower, so using mulch is a good idea. Buy mulch from a garden center or use horse manure or home-made compost. Put a thick layer on top of the soil, or membrane, at least 2-4 inches deep. Keep an eye on it, you will need to keep topping it up, especially if cats scratch at it.
4. Vertical barriers – Burying a vertical barrier, such as damp-proof course, plastic or a sheet of metal, can prevent root weeds such as Japanese Knotweed invading your borders. The barrier needs to be at least 12 inches deep to be effective.
5. Weed regularly – Keeping an eye on your borders and flower beds and removing weeds before they get a real hold is much easier than tackling a 10 foot high Japanese Knotweed!
6. Weed when the soil is wet – It is much easier to pull weeds out of wet soil than hard dry soil.
7. Learn about lawn care – Adjusting your lawnmower blades to cut at the right height, fertilizing the lawn, aerating your lawn etc. will help to keep your lawn healthy and weed free. A dense lawn will be less prone to weeds.
8. Learn about weeds – Knowing the difference between annual weeds, biennial weeds and perennial weeds will help you to identify the most effective way of dealing with weeds.
9. Take care when planting – Check the root balls and soil of plants you buy from garden centers, you don’t want to introduce weeds into a weed-free border! If you are not sure whether there are any seeds or weeds in the root ball, isolate the plant in a pot for a while before planting.
10. Keep things clean – Keep garden tools and your lawnmower clean so that you do not spread any weed seeds around the garden.