Weeding is one task I certainly tire of, but never entirely defeat, on our grounds. If you battle with weeds in your gardens, here are a few tips for keeping those weeds out.
Mulch, mulch, mulch!
Applying a layer of mulch not only regulates soil moisture and temperature for the plants you enjoy having in your gardens, it also buffers the weed seeds from receiving the light they need for germination. Mulch is not limited to shredded bark. Shredded leaves, clean straw, and/or leaf compost or regular compost work as well.
Groundcovers shade the surface of the ground, keeping weed seed germination at bay. Furthermore, they oftentimes have colorful flowers, fruit, and/or foliage to add to the display in your garden versus plain old mulch.
Know your weeds
Taking the time to identify and learn about the weeds you’re pulling in your gardens may save you work if you know how/when to attack. Already this year, I’ve received many comments and questions about eradicating Canada thistle for example. Canada thistle spreads by seed and creeping rhizomes, so when thistles are pulled by hand without getting the entire root system, even more are triggered to grow! There are several resources below to help you identify the weeds you’re pulling out of your gardens.
The Rutgers Weed Gallery allows you to search for a weed by Latin or common name or scroll through pictures.
Another visual guide, the “Is this plant a weed?” identification key is neat. For more detailed information, consult the University of Illinois’ Weed Science directory.
You can also review the list of “super bad” or invasive weeds in your area from the USDA.
Finally, one last weeding tip: if you have weeds to pull, wait to do so until after a rain shower. When the ground is softer, the roots will pull out more easily.