Organic weed control in our gardens can look like hard work.
It’s so much simpler – and quicker – to spray Round Up or some other such weed killer to control the pesky weeds, isn’t it?
Possibly but with a few simple tips, organic weed control in our gardens can be pretty easy and getting rid of weeds more naturally – whenever we can – is massively important because commercial weed killers can be seriously nasty for human health and local wildlife.
Toxic Weed Killers
More and more research shows weed killers:
- Can be seriously toxic for humans and carcinogenic.
- Are harming bees – our key pollinators – by weakening their resistance to disease and pathogens. Bees are now dying from diseases they used to be able to resist.
- Can pollute our water supply.
- Can damage the growth of other plants including trees.
- And harm the microbes & mycorrhizal fungi that are essential for healthy soil and help plants resist disease.
Pretty nasty stuff. But we can make a difference in our own gardens.
By avoiding weed killers as much as we can in our gardens we give nature a chance to fight back and can create micro havens for happy pollinators and microbe, fungi and bug rich healthy soil, which will in turn support birds, amphibians and other wildlife.
OK but but but … how can we get rid of weeds naturally without loads of back breaking hard work? Well these are my top tips for organic weed control.
Getting Rid Of Weeds Naturally
I’m not a gardening expert but I have gardened organically from the get go and learned the hard way by making lots of mistakes. So these organic weed control tips are based on my screw ups and are easy to follow for people – like me – who really aren’t expert gardeners.
(The problem – I find – with too many expert gardening tips is you need to be an expert to follow them successfully!!).
These simple tips will help you get rid of weeds naturally and stay on top of them even when you’re short on time and you don’t really know what you’re doing with the garden so do save for quick reference later.
10 Organic Weed Control Tips
- Topping : if you’ve got weeds and you’re short on time or the weather is too rubbish to get out to get rid of weeds properly then at least whizz round and top them. This basically just means yank the flowers off before they have chance to seed. But whatever you do, don’t put weed flowers or seed heads in your compost.
- Mulching : as soon as it starts to warm up in early spring, cover bare beds with 2 or 3 inches of mulch. It could be compost or manure around plants that need feeding, e.g. roses, and bark chippings around those that don’t. You can even use grass cuttings. The mulch will stop new annual weeds seeding whilst still letting plants grow through. You do need to clear existing weeds first before mulching but as long as you do it early enough there shouldn’t be too many of these.
- Plant perennial ground cover : when you are planting anything new plant some perennial or ever green ground cover – e.g. heathers, aubretia, thyme, phlox – as well so you’ve got less bare soil and less space for new weeds to take hold. With a bit of garden planning you can actually get the ground cover to do more than weed control. Companion plants protect your prize plants from pests e.g. aphids and slugs, and feed the soil.
- Water plants not bare soil : if you do still have bare soil make sure in the summer you’re watering the roots of your plants rather than making the bare soil all nice and wet and warm for the weeds.
- Hoe rather than dig : when you weed manually you want to disturb the soil as little as possible so try to hoe gently often to control annual weeds with shallow roots rather than turning everything over.
- No till : thoroughly digging a garden bed over to get rid of weeds can feel like a good morning’s work but the no-till approach can be a much more effective method for organic weed control. As a beginner, it can seem a bit complicated but the basic idea is you only ever dig as far as you need to plant seeds.
- Dig up deep rooted weeds : if you’ve got perennial weeds in your existing beds, you do need to dig as much of the root out as possible else they’re just going to come back but try and do it with a small trowel or fork rather than digging over a wider area. Don’t put weed roots in your compost heap.
- Boiling water : you can use boiling water to control weeds on paths and patios but don’t use on beds as you’ll kill off plants & good bugs in the soil as well.
- Avoid vinegar, dish soap & salt : you may see tips about using vinegar, dish soap, rubbing alcohol or salt to get rid of weeds naturally but don’t. They will harm essential bugs, bacteria and fungi in the soil.
- Tarping : you can get rid of lots weeds easily in a bed you want to start again with by tarping. You simply cut down all the existing weeds and then cover with thick black plastic. If you’ve got plants in there, you want to keep, just cut holes for them in the plastic. Autum is a great time to start tarping as you can leave the plastic down until late winter and then easily clear the dead weeds before planting and mulching.
So there you go, 10 simple organic weed control tips that will help you both prevent weeds and get rid of weeds naturally without lots of back breaking digging and manual weeding. Do save the tips for quick reference, later.
And for more simple organic gardening tips for beginners follow me on Pinterest and check out this post:dandelion, white dandelion Photo: Glade of dandelions near the house / Lichtung von Löwenzahn by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0