Eco-Friendly Options to Banish Weeds

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Gardener with gloves pulling out overgrown ivy from a garden border

One of the biggest banes of every gardener’s existence is the number of weeds that pop up and seem to multiply — on the lawn, in the garden and elsewhere. This is a particularly challenging problem when you are trying to live a more sustainable life, so you can’t just shower your garden with toxic weed sprays.

There are, however, numerous ways you can tackle weeds without harming the environment, yourself, your children, or your pets. Here are some approaches to try in the coming weeks:

Boost the Overall Health of Your Lawn

This is less of a quick fix and more of a long-term approach, but you’ll have fewer weeds to deal with if you boost the health of your lawn. The healthier your grass is, the more easily it can defend itself against infestations. Start by mowing often, though be careful to use a machine with sharp blades rather than dull or rusted ones that might tear the grass. Also, never cut off more than a third of the blades during each mow. If you don’t have adequate equipment or struggle to find the
time to fit in this task regularly, hire a professional, such as these Tampa lawn mowing service providers.

Other tasks to put on your to-do list include watering often, especially during summer or if your location has extended periods without rain, and aerating the lawn once or twice a year to help light, water, and feed get down to the soil. Don’t let leaves lie on your lawn for days or weeks, either, as when they get wet, they will turn into a mat that could suffocate the grass. Fertilize the lawn a couple of times per year, too, to help it stay at its best.

Be Aware of Common Weeds

Closeup of a group of common chickweed with small white blossoms

To banish weeds from your yard, you first need to know how to identify them. While the interlopers that cause a nuisance in your area may be different from those found in others, there are often the same kinds of garden pests that pop up all over the country. For example, be on the lookout for the oft-seen chickweed. This plant is identified by its white flowers (a single one on each stem) and by its shiny leaves.

Purslane is common, too. It’s distinguishable by its star-shaped yellow flowers, green fleshy leaves, and red-hued, succulent stems. Another pain is crabgrass, which takes its name from its low spreading leaves that wind across the ground in a tight crab-style circle.

Remove Weeds by Hand

One of the most eco-friendly ways to banish weeds is to pull them out yourself by hand. Some weeds are easier to remove than others. For instance, chickweed has a weak structure and fine root system, so pulls out of the ground quite easily. Do make sure you step on the stems too, though, as this crushing action will help to kill off the weed completely.

To get rid of purslane, act quickly. It can be tough to remove once it has had time to take root in the soil, so pull it out when it’s still young. Be careful to remove the whole plant and place stem fragments in the bin, rather than a compost heap, to avoid the plant throwing out seeds even after it’s taken from the soil.

Don’t Disturb the Soil Unless You Have To

Weeds typically reseed when soil is turned over and disturbed. They get into the air and germinate. To avoid giving them the chance to do this, limit the amount of disturbance you make to the soil in your yard. Let weeds stay dormant underground as much as possible. If you do have to till the soil in your garden at some stage, try to time this task to when perennials aren’t dropping seeds left, right, and center, and when the soil is dry and harder for weeds to take root in.

Lay Mulch

You can alleviate weed problems by not giving them much room to pop their heads up, either. For example, add mulch to your gardens. Organic materials will not only cover and smother weeds but also break down over time and provide helpful nutrients to the soil below.

When you research mulch (you can buy it or make your own), you’ll see there are many types on offer.
Choose between options like grass clippings, straw, bark, and newspapers and cardboard and other biodegradable materials. Once you have your mulch, spread a two-to-four-inch layer of it on your garden beds to help keep weeds away.

Weeds are certainly an annoying issue for gardeners, no matter the location. However, by being proactive and testing out the ideas listed above, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of defeating weeds without having to resort to unhealthy, chemical-laden sprays and other products.

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