The complete and total elimination of garden weeds is every gardener’s dream! And to do so organically or naturally just makes it all the more thrilling! While I’ll share with you some methods for eliminating weeds naturally for The Friday Fives, please keep in mind that the battle with weeds is perpetual struggle between gardener and nature.
Weed seeds can lie dormant for many years. Just because you eliminate them once doesn’t mean you’ll completely eradicate them – ever. At least you can wage a clean war against them with these 5 ways to naturally remove weeds!
5 Ways to Naturally Eliminate Weeds
Remove the weeds mechanically
Remove the weeds mechanically. The mechanical removal of weeds involves hands, hoes, shovels, pick axes, and perhaps jack-hammer’s when necessary. The mechanical method is the most effective way to remove a weed (except for the aforementioned jack-hammer approach which might be fine if you want to take out your patio along with the weeds). If a weed is removed in its entirety it won’t come back. It may have relatives hanging around that will take its place but if you get the weed root and all – it’s a goner!
The best time to remove weeds is after a rain when the soil is damp because the roots slide from the soil much easily. On difficult roots I’ll slide my trowel into the soil next to the root and loosen the area around the plant. It’s tedious but there’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes with the destruction of the weed!
For weeds with small shallow root systems a scuffle hoe (stirrup) hoe works great. I just skim slightly under the soil surface with the hoe and cut the top of the weed from the root system. Take care that you don’t accidentally damage any plants in the garden when using the scuffle hoe. I recommend finding the locations of the good plants first, hand weed around them, the scuffle hoe the rest of the area. I’ve been doing this a lot lately with chickweed. I STRONGLY recommend adding a scuffle hoe/stirrup hoe to your tool shed I use mine all the time. It’s probably the most useful weed elimination tool in my garden. Here’s a simple one you can find on Amazon: Stirrup Hoe (aff.)
Natural chemicals work too. Instead of grabbing the nearest bottle of you know what go grab the high strength vinegar. Vinegar will do the trick for most common weeds but it may take a few repeat treatments before you can say R.I.P. weed. (And yes, I do taunt the weeds when I get the best of them!) Common table vinegar usually isn’t strong enough so get the horticultural grade.
Have you ever had weeds crop up in between the cracks of your patio? Or along stepping stones? Or between the border stones in one of your gardens? I have this issue all the time and use boiling water to knock out those annoying weeds. Sometimes it takes a repeat application but often the weeds are D.O.A. right away. Boiling water is also good for those annoying lawn weeds like thistle that have deep tap roots. It’s non-selective so be careful not to cook anything that doesn’t need cooked!
Smother Weeds with Mulch
Mulch! Mulch is one of the best methods for keeping weeds from growing. Weed seeds that need light don’t get access to the rays of the sun from underneath a good 3 inch layer of organic mulch. Plus you have the added benefit of feeding the soil as your mulch breaks down. Often I’ll take old newspapers (the black and white ones) and lay between the soil and the mulch before I apply the mulch for an additional layer of weed prevention.
Cover the Soil
If you don’t want to mulch try planting your plants with their ideal spacing (or slightly closer) or using a groundcover. Groundcovers will block out the light just like mulch. Even if weeds do break though the groundcover they are few and far between. If you plant your plants with ideal spacing so that they touch at maturity it will serve the same effect of blocking out weeds and reducing their numbers.
Remember, weeds will find a way to grow over any exposed soil. Many weed seeds need sunlight to germinate so if your more desirable plants are spaced to block out light at the soil surface you can prevent the germination of new weed seeds. Strong healthy plants are excellent competition for weeds!
No matter which weed removal method you like best (and I use all of them) the most important thing is to keep on top of the weeds. If you casually remove them while walking through the garden each day you will stay ahead of the weeds. Never let a weed go to flower! Trust me, if you get behind on your weeding catching up it is not a pleasant experience!