Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of gardening is dealing with weeds. Like it or not, they have to be removed. However, the process can be back breaking. You can pull the weeds out or use a tool specially designed to dig them out. In either case, it is probably a chore you don’t look forward to.
What if you can prevent weeds altogether? Now that would be a gift for your back.
Actually, there are things you can do to prevent weeds from ever growing in your garden. The key is to block sunlight from getting to potential weeds.
· Mulch. Lay a nice thick layer of straw, hay, wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, or even pine needles over the ground of your garden. This keeps away weeds, regulates temperatures, holds in the moisture, reduces evaporation, and limits splash on plant leaves keeping them cleaner and reducing fungi.
· Newspapers. Lay out a thick layer of newspaper over the soil. You will have to include a thick layer of mulch on top to keep the newspaper in place. Before laying out the newspaper put compost, worm casings and a soaker hose down on the soil before laying out the newspaper. This ensures that the plants get water while the weed seeds that land on top of the newspaper don’t. You can then tear a hole in the newspaper covering where you want to plant flora or place seeds. Ultimately, the newspaper will decompose and provide the extra benefit of supplying humus to the soil.
· Cardboard. Cardboard can serve as a substitute to newspaper. However, it is not easy to cut a hole in it. It also does not allow water through very well. The benefit of cardboard is that the good garden critters love to live under cardboard, especially worms and fungi. It is suggested that you lay down some mulch over the cardboard to keep it in place.
· Create Shade Using Plants. Arrange the plants in blocks to produce shade that prevents weeds from growing.
· Vinegar. Plants as well as weeds hate vinegar, especially agricultural vinegar. Agricultural vinegar is 20% acidic and household vinegar is 5% acidic. Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and surround the weed with a dog cone, then spray the vinegar into the cone. The plants in the garden are protected. Be aware that you may have to reapply the vinegar to kill very strong, persistent weeds.
· Fire. Of course, if you intend to use this alternative to get rid of weeds, then be extremely careful. Use a propane torch and a special nozzle that helps to direct the flames and prevents the need for you to bend. However, before taking out the torch, water the area well to assure that the fire doesn’t catch and cause your whole backyard to come in flames.
· Boiling Water. Boil the water and then pour it over the weeds. Be extra careful that you don’t get any of it on the plants.
· Solarize. Before or after the growing season lay a sheet of clear plastic down over well-watered soil. The plastic will permit sunlight through, the water will steam and the weeds will be cooked. In addition, solarizing also kills off some fungi and diseases.