How to keep weeds down

Ways How To Keep Weeds Down In Your Garden

How to keep weeds down

Gardening is fun. EXCEPT for those darn weeds that keep coming up!

Weeding is easier to deal with in a raised garden bed (less bending over), especially if the raised bed is 2 feet tall or thereabouts!

But what about a regular garden? Lots more bending!

Not only that, but the larger the garden the more weeds to pull!

And if you say “the heck with it” and let them grow, not only will it interfere with your garden plants but it will probably turn into a mass of sod – making it even more difficult to deal with later on.

I know we have plenty of gardeners who read this blog, so lets put our ideas together.

What have you done to control (or attempt to control) the weeds in your garden?

What are the various ways to keep weeds down in your garden?

 
To get the conversation going, perhaps one common suggestion will be to put some material down on the ground to slow down or prohibit weeds from growing up through.

What materials have you used for this? What methods?

One problem that I’ve had is the wind blowing it off or askew. Would need a zillion rocks to hold it all down for a larger garden.

Maybe I need to try a different type of material or method.

This year I don’t have anything stopping the weeds. We’re just weeding. Hacking some of it with a hoe and bending over and pulling. Not fun.

I want to have a plan for next year to try something new. So maybe all of your input will help one another with suggestions on what has worked for you and what has not.

Okay, what do you say? (comment below)

 
Reference book:
The Vegetable Gardener’s BIBLE

 

How To Reduce Weeds In Your Garden

– Raised Garden Beds! Much easier to deal with.
– Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
– Ground cover fabric
– Lawn clippings in-between plants
– Old carpets
– Propane weed burner
– Raised row gardening technique
– Wood chips over a layer of newspaper
– Lasagna Gardening
– With rectangular blade / hoe / scrape soil back and forth around plants every few days. The weeds don’t have a chance to grow.

More: Lasagna Gardening

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57 Comments

  1. My Garden is easy to “weed” plant and maintain.

    Frist I have those GREAT two foot high Raised Beds , each bed is 4 feet by 20 feet, or 1/2 55-gallon barrels, plus a few dozen Milk Creates up on Pallets. Weed control is simple; I walk the Garden each evening and simply stay ahead of the problem. Very few weeds

    Next when I purchased my current place I was under the assumption I would get some “Dirt” with all the rocks, did not happen HAHAHA, so all the Paths are simply the original “Desert” sand/rock/hard-pan. No weeds of any subsequence. Those that do grow are simple to demolish with a little C-4 and a HUGE shovel/Back-Hoe.

    Ohhhh yea, and lets us not forget the NO-RAIN thing for the past 6 months.

    I do feel for y-all that have the Weed problems,, I lived in Ohio for a few years, and I will admit, Weeds grow better than 99% of the Garden ‘Stuff’ back there.

    Just remember, if the Weeds get to bad there is always Agent Orange or Napalm HAHAHAHA

    1. Mix Roundup and Garlon, with maybe a little Speed Zone Southern in there and the weeds are toast! Of course theres that little thing about that stuff being toxic, but hey we all going someday!

    2. I learned this trick from the old man next door, plant your garden. Then as the season goes take all your grass clippings and put it around all the crops you planted, Weeding is not need as the grass compost heats up and it kills the weeds..

  2. I’d love to know if anyone has tried Hugelkultur and if so how did they set up the bed- raised bed and filled in with the recommended materials or just mounded?

    1. Like everything else, it depends on your climate. I tried something similar (buried wood in an area of the garden) and that area sucked up water like nothing else. Bone dry. Nothing grew, not even weeds. When I dug up the wood, I discovered that it was wet enough to have fungus growing on it, but the soil more than an inch or so away was dry. It had sucked in all the water from the soil around and never released it.

      So in some climates (where there’s plenty of water) it’s probably a good idea. In dry areas, not so much.

    2. Getting out of Seattle;

      I use panelized concrete forms for my Raised Beds, they are 2’X4’ and are pined together, so I simply lay them on the side and there ya go. Poof instant bed.
      I put about 6” of crapo dirt/rock in the bottom, than a 4”-6” layer of Aged Horse Manure mixed with all the Organics I can get my hands on (leaves/small sticks/kitchen-stuff all ran through a Shredder). Next a 12” layer of Compost/Cow-Manure/Mulch/GOOD-Dirt.
      This leaves the dirt right at the top of the Bed, once watered it usually drops about 2 inches, just enough for planting than a layer of mulch on-top once the plants are up.
      If done correctly the Mulch on-top will decompose over the year feeding the soil more each time.
      All I do is “Fork” the soil each spring to loosen the soil (unless I’m doing a complete rebuild), than fertilize some, water and Plant.

        1. Getting out of Seattle ,,,,,,,how many do you need ???,,,,,,Richies bro auction in chehalis has them almost every auction ,,,,steel and wood

  3. No weeds, I have raised beds that are adjusted to my height so there is no bending over either! Nah nah nah nah. I weeded enough when I was younger. I have the same problem as NPR. We are on the saddle of a mountain- all rock, haven’t had much rain in 6 mo. walk a path everyday, and lots of animals above and below ground to eat anything put in the ground.

    1. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch.

      Seriously. I use a piece of chain link to hold down the leaves in the area I’m mulching each year. They mulch for a year and a half (fall to spring, through the summer, and plant into it the next spring). It’s part of my rotation schedule. No weeds grow in that area for a year or two, and those that do grow are easy to pull.

      I let the weeds go last year and the year before, I had too much else going on, So this year they’re out of control. I’ve been focusing on eliminating two types of weeds and not letting them go to seed. Next year I should only have to maintain those two, and focus on another.

        1. NRP the advantages of mulch are keeps weeds down (Thread Comment), makes any weeds that do sprout up easy to remove AND helps reduce water usage in the garden in general.

          Bad things about mulch is it tends to encourage slugs and voles to infest your garden. Flat beer in lids for the slugs and I am working on that vole cure (Garlic Scape Tea incoming).

          Just remember to use organic straw or maybe wood chips for your mulch. Round up contaminated straw is HARD on your garden plants and seems to take years to go away.

          1. NH Michael;
            You are absolutely correct about Hay or Straw.
            I used Hay once that was nasty contaminated, took years of mending the Garden to get that stuff out.
            I now use wood chips, a friend of mine has a Tree Trimming Company dump loads and loads of the stuff on his 15 acres. They have the local contract to clear the Power Lines. He has literally tons of the stuff, AND loads it for me with backhoe. So I get a couple of tons a year only for the Raised Beds.
            Again here in the Desert I have very VERY few Bugs or Birds that invade the Garden, I do have Deer and a few Coons, but one Urinal Cake a month runs them out. Interestingly enough we do have a ton of Bees, probably because of hay fields nearby and a LOT of apple trees/Orchards.
            BUT, back on subject, the Wood Chips are very haer on the weeds I do have, I guess the slight acidity and the solid cover makes a difference.

            PS; yes I do LOVE my Garden, GREAT therapy and food source.

          2. Chips are excellent, have green and brown in em so they compost pretty good, got to be careful on species though, some can leach large amounts of tannins into the soil, cause a whole nother kinda issue than weeds

          3. NH Michael,
            According to Oregon State University publication:
            “The Herbicides of Concern
            Aminopyralid, clopyralid, fluroxypyr, picloram, and triclopyr are in a class of herbicides known as pyridine carboxylic acids. They are registered for application to pasture, grain crops, nonresidential lawns, certain vegetables and fruits, and roadsides. They are used to control a wide variety of broadleaf weeds, including several toxic plants that can sicken or kill animals that graze them or eat them in hay. Based on USDAEPA and European Union agency evaluations, when these herbicides are applied to hay fields or pasture, the forage can be safely consumed by horses and livestock – including livestock produced for human consumption. These herbicides pass through the animal’s digestive tract and are excreted in urine and manure. They can remain active in the manure even after it is composted. They can also remain active on hay, straw, and grass clippings taken from treated areas. The herbicides leach into the soil with rainfall, irrigation, and dew. As with many other herbicides, they can remain active in the treated soil.”
            Just saying, it is not only Roundup (glyphosate) you need to worry about. these other herbicides are normally used by farmers to keep broadleaf weeds out of their grass hay, and they carry over. Just though you should know so you can ask.

          4. Or leaves. Leaves are more available for me. I’ve never had a problem with slugs or voles, but snails and birds are a pain in the neck regardless of the mulch.

      1. that is all right. Was wondering in the beginning. We are just all rock here. When you can find dirt (would never call it soil) it doesn’t even register in a soil tester as having anything. WOw it is raining! Water from the sky. What a concept.

  4. You’d need a zillion rocks to keep the cover from blowing away? Ken, you live in New Hampshire. You have many zillions of rocks.

    1. That’s for sure! They’re called New Hampshire potatoes. I have a huge rock pile from all those that I remove each Spring. Just don’t want to put them all back in the garden! ;)

  5. Like everyone else here, we have raised beds. I made the mistake of leaving some carrots in the ‘upwind’ bed over the winter, so I could get seed the second year. Well, seed they did, but I did not catch all of it. Now my predominant “weed” in the raised beds are carrots. I just let them grow. When I get tired of them, I pull them and eat them. Funny, they seem to crowd out the other weeds to some extent. Of course now I have ‘wild carrots’ coming up in the hay, but who cares??

    1. I figure if I’m going to have weeds (in the areas that aren’t mulched) they might as well be weeds I can eat. So I let the lettuces and radishes go. Like you, I discovered that many of the standard weeds won’t grow where these have been “weeded.”

  6. Down here in swfl raised beds are a must not only for weed control but soil nematodes and the fact that most “northern veggies” do not grow well here. I have found it is best to grow tropical and subtropical veg here. Weed control is roundup around the raised beds, hand pulling in the beds. Thick layer of pine needles does control and keep down most weeds. Otherwise I use think geo fabric / nursery row fabric to control walkways with gravel paths on top. As an experienced nurserymen I can tell you if you are serious about gardening and real food production I suggest you find a local or online nursery supplier like https://www.amleo.com or https://www.bfgsupply.com/

  7. I’ve heard that clover works really well as a ground cover around all of your plantings. When planted thick enough it’s supposed to keep weeds from getting the sun they need.

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I have noticed the parts of my lawn taken over by clover don’t get weeds while the grassy areas do.

  8. “One problem that I’ve had is the wind blowing it off or askew. Would need a zillion rocks to hold it all down for a larger garden.” Not a problem here in New England, all the stones you need! To find them, simply have your wife choose a place to plant a tree or put in a chicken fence…I can guarantee you there will be plenty.

  9. Perfect article here Ken,
    I spent 3 hours pulling weeds in the garden yesterday afternoon, only got about 1/6 or less weeded, in our climate grasses can grow a foot a week or more, unless you spend a couple hours a day in the garden it gets away from you, i neglected it for a few weeks so got a ton of weeding, am going to lay down weed mat as i go this time so it stays down, at least in any of the areas that are walk ways or not planted. Luckily my soil is excellent so pulling weeds isnt really that big a deal but 3 weeks of growth is daunting. Looks nice when i get through it though.
    Had a nice planting of lettuce, got so hot for a few days there that it all bolted before it got anywhere near being done, i usually plant thick then thin it and eat it little by little, but it all is going to seed,,, if i could eat the weeds id be good to go, we truly have year round growing here, so EVERYTHING grows like crazy.

  10. I heavily mulch my perennial beds (wood chips because I can get a few years out of chipped bark). We lay black woven cloth down in the aisles in the veggie gardens. We have too much garden to ‘weed’ but will use a hoe on occasion to get in between some plants, or we bend down and grab a weed here or there. The lawn clippings we use in between plants keeps the weeds to a minimum. We tend to plant w/ double rows and we stagger plants like peppers and tomatoes so it cuts down on weed growth.
    If we didn’t use woven cloth and mulches, we would be overwhelmed w/ weeds. We are Zone 6/7 w/ ample rainfall in most years.

  11. This has been the story of my garden life this year….weeds and bugs!

    Fortunately, weeds haven’t really invaded the raised beds much, and I can keep ahead of them pretty easily due to the loose soil. Bugs are another story.

    What’s driving me nuts with weeds are the ones growing in the gravel I put over heavy landscape cloth around the beds, thinking it would cut down on weed whacking this year. Dirt in between the gravel (mostly from the skid steer tires from spread it) has become a super growth medium for two kinds of crabgrass. The wide blade version is pretty easily pulled by gathering all the “arms”, flicking away the gravel and wiggling the entire plant to pull it roots and all. Roots are on top of the landscape cloth. Doesn’t seem to be eager to come back in the same spot.

    Unfortunately, the skinny leaf crabgrass version isn’t so accommodating, and the roots are small enough to go through the landscape cloth from the top, and break off in segments when you pull on them. At the moment, I’m pulling those as best as I can, then spraying the root area with organic weed killer (WeedZap, 20-30% vinegar, etc). Remains to be seen if they come back or not.

    Right now, I’m doing everything by myself. At least in a SHTF situation there will be others here to help with this kind of mundane — but time consuming — job!

  12. Winter over your goats in the garden with some large round bales. They do their goat practice of eat a mouthful and waste a mouthful. Eventually you will have a thick mat of hay and goat marbles. In the spring plant through the bed of hay with your tulip drill on the cordless and your weeds will be suppressed by the mat of hay and goat marbles. This keeps the moisture in and minimizes watering, too. By fall the mat will be rich soil and your goats will clean out the garden left overs. This works with greenhouse transplants, peas and corn and not carrots. Use the rabbit marbles for the raised beds. Perfect for water retention and no weeds.

  13. Plant lots of squash.
    That thick canopy of Vines and leaves sure do hide alot of weeds.
    When I broke ribs a few summers ago, weeds were taller than the plants……out came the.weed trimmer

  14. My favorite weeding tool is a rectangular blade set at an angle. Two days after planting I scrape the soil back and forth. I do this every few days. The weeds don’t have a chance to grow. If I neglect to do it for a while, I cut deeper into the soil. I find it easy and fast. No bending. No pulling. It is very maneuverable and can scrape between plants easily. It is like sweeping the house. You just do it as part of your routine.

    1. Skeezix,
      Have looked at those, but decided I could not afford them. I now use what is called locally a “Mexican Weed Shovel”.(Whoever came up with is was damned smart IMHO!) Basically a shovel with the point cut off with an angle grinder, leaving a 6″ flat at the front. with use the center of this edge wears fast and kind of makes a “U” shape that helps catch the weeds. Self-sharpening too! Just swing and skim the weed about 1″ below ground. In our arid area, they do not come back.

  15. The weeding tool is part of a set made in Germany. All the steel is very thick. There are a long and short handle. The tools all snap into the handles. Quite a space saver. It is found on Amazon.

    Stay frosty.

  16. We have been using old indoor outdoor carpet cut into 18 inch wide stripes and smaller to line the rows and small one for the row crops like potatoes beans. We till the garden once in the spring and plant. After that we never till again ( it just germinates more weed seed ). The carpet goes down and we only weed around the plants. Also we use Dick Raymond joy of garden book to plant more crops in a smaller space also helps with weds. Also started bring some of the crops into the flower beds around the house so they are closer. We only have problems in the onion beds and vine crops. Mulch is a good substitute for the vine crops if you don’t have anymore carpet. I know some will say that using carpet is bad but we are using old carpet that had been sitting outside for years. No third arms or extra toes yet. Also we have used plastic with mulch over it to hold it down and this works well its just a mess after the garden is done to get the plastic bad out.

  17. Not sure I would use this in the garden, but Mr. just used the weed killer we found on line.
    1 gallon white vinegar
    2 cups Epsom salts
    1/4 cup Dawn. We used blue. The color helps you see how much is left. Any Dawn will work.

    Well it certainly will kill weeds and not pets or hurt children. Not to mention there is no need to be scared of breathing it. This is on youtube and some have probably used it already.

  18. Weeds, oh yea! Boy can I grow a bumper crop of that. I try to keep it tilled to where I can just deal with the rows of “food.” It is a never ending battle. Having a tiller that rotates both directions is a tremendous benefit. Got by for many years with old ward’s front tine tiller. Well, I was a lot younger back then and stronger. I have had a cub cadet rear tine tiller (both directions on rotation) for several years now. I love it. You have to shift gears a lot but it is well worth it to have the options which make it far far better. Just don’t get in a hurry and let the machine do the work.

    For some reason, I’ve been able to stay at least even this year. I know I’ll lose the war in the end, but I’ve won more battles this year than most. In the end, I must admit, I usually have to use the mower at the tail end of the harvest.

    Still scheming and planning my chicken tunnels with mobile coop. I’m really hoping the chickens will help with weeding between rows of “food.” I had no idea how expensive the various types of wire/wire mesh/ fabric mesh, etc. is. Still looking for a bargain for my chicken tunnels. I’m thinking 6 ten foot tunnels, maybe 7. The plan is for birds in the early spring next year.

    I have tried mulch in the past and just don’t like the results. The local hay I’ve used has soooo many weed seeds in it. I have given up on hay mulch.

    Sweet corn is fabulous. Tried heirloom last year. It was good but not as good as the hybrid. I did harvest seed from last year’s crop, so nothing lost there. Great tomato crop. More canning this weekend. Green beans are yummy but not as many this year. Zuchinni and cucumbers are always good. Peppers and jalapeno peppers are still a ways off, but look good. Peas were great earlier but they are done. I transplanted “wild garlic” 20 plus years ago and it is still expanding. Folks come from all over to get the garlic. I give them all they want. I don’t think you can kill the stuff. Cloves are smaller than store bought but just use two instead of one. Tried onions again this year with limited success. My ground is not great for onions and I’ve tried every trick I’ve ever heard of, through the years. Oh well!

    My pig weed crop is always a battle and I always lose. I’ve noticed the pig weed is getting a few thorns where it branches off of the main stem. I don’t remember thorns on pig weed years back. The root system on pig weed is brutal.

    Watching the wife smiling as she carried in a shirt tail of harvested goodies made me laugh last night. Yea I like gardening even though the weeds ALWAYS win.

    1. Plains medic once I got rid of the rototiller and started lasugina gardening my weeding is very easy. All a rototiller does is gets the weeds excited.

      1. NH Michael
        I agree, the tiller just gets the weeds excited. Kills em for a little while, till their off-spring sprout.

        I just know for my ground, it seems to be the best tool. There is a guy in the area who will bring a trailer load of goats to your place and release them for a day or two. Problem is, they eat everything and I do mean everything. Might be a solution for some problems though. Lasugina gardening??? I’ll have to research.

  19. We have used with good results a propane weed burnner ,,do it right after watering ,,good idea to have someone standby with a hose too ,,use a shovel as a heat shield on plants you want ,,,point weed burnner bell strait down just off the ground so the flame just gets out ,,,very fast and kills slugs and bugs too ,,,turn the water on after

    1. Homesteader,
      Same here, flame weeders are pretty effective, up to when the weeds are even 8” or so, been trying to get a set of the burners to mount on the tractor, saving for the tank now, thats the expensive part

      1. TOMMY ,,,,,has been my experience ,,,you don’t want to burn up the weeds,, just cook them ,,done right the weeds don’t even look hurt till the next day ,,,,,,

        TEA AND CHERRYS ,,,,,,COTS ARE NEXT,,,,

        1. Red dragon row crop flamer is what im puting together. They are pretty sweet, doing 4 rows

          1. Tommyboy while that flamer is pretty sweet what will you after SHTF for weed control?

            I try to use things I can get post SHTF. Scavenged carpets, wood chips through the solar electric wood chipper and seedless grasses. Man’s (woman’s) got to eat.

  20. I have three in ground garden areas. I built wood and/or stone borders around them. Depending on what I’m growing, I plant tomatoes, canteloup, zucchini and whatever, then lay two sheets of newspaper and cover with wood mulch that is free from our MUD. The newspaper composts slowly and worms love it. Other areas take about thirty minutes every couple of weeks to weed. I’ve used cardboard too but it doesn’t lay as well.

  21. We have a 70×100 garden and we used the raised row gardening technique, has worked great for weeds and looks nice and organized.

  22. In my previous house, I successfully used 1-2 feet of ramial wood chips over a layer of newspaper to block weeds, enrich the soil with natural minerals, and reduce watering to zero. The growth of my vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees was amazing as a result. I am impatient to use this method in my new house which is still under construction at the moment.

    I highly recommend the book: “Lasagna Gardening”, and the free YouTube video: “Back to Eden” for a great description of the wood chip mulch cover to create and maintain an incredible garden with minimal weeding. You can get free woods chips in many parts of the country from tree cutting companies.

  23. Now that am post-employment am creating permanent beds. Digging it all up, and leveling long-neglected areas. Putting annual raised beds around the orchard. It’s already fenced against the elk. Plan to run chickens in there off season to eat bugs, larvae, weeds and seeds, and grass. If they’re anything like my chickens when I was a kid, they’ll have it bare earth by spring.
    Moles are terrible here so all beds and walkways will have 1/4” galvanized hardware cloth down first. Getting loads of coffee grounds to make the worms happy.
    Most of what was “yard” is becoming perennial raised beds for berries, asparagus, rhubarb, and the like. The herb garden will go out back in the sun.
    Soil here is better than I could have imagined; feel very blessed. Half rotted wood chips are available nearby and are pretty cheap. Those will go down thick between the beds. Hoping that planting thickly and thinning late will discourage the weeds.

  24. My weeds are my greens, not in the garden, but in my pasture and on the edges of the woods. Dandelion, plantain, clover, poke, and kudzu. I allow them to thrive. I also plant onions and garlic on the fringes and allow them to propagate uncultivated. Same with wild blackberries, wild strawberries, and dewberries, which I share with the bears and birds.

    Grazing the pastures and the edges is high on my survival plans. Hope everyone is scouting their area and identifying supplemental nutrition available for the taking.

    Not recommending it, but thinking of trying it. Has anyone experimented with plantain as a cover between rows of corn? The plantain in my pasture grows so thick in some patches that it crowds out the grasses.

    1. Dennis,
      That sounds familiar, could pick a salad every day, easy, have choyote growing wild too, tons of it so can eat the shoots and the squash it produces, pretty good fried up with SPAM!
      We have potaties all over the place too, i try and spread them whenever i can,

    2. Smart Dennis, very smart. Just this AM I am drinking coffee watching a flock of turkeys wander around my wild garden area. Protein on the hoof (err claw?) If the wildlife eat from my harvest I will harvest them (although Voles are pretty hard to make a meal from).

      Plantain crowds out grass yes? Is the crowd out physical or maybe Plantain generates phytochemicals to stunt grasses? Is not corn a Grass Dennis? Can your corn get enough of a head start to be productive? Can you walk through those thick patches with a bag and knife to harvest the corn? Will the plantain die back enough for you to walk out there with a Dibble Stick and sack of corn seed to start out next years crop? Can you eat Plantain? IIRC you can feed it to critters.

      At Permies dot com they sometimes call a weed a misplaced plant resource.

      1. NH Michael,

        I threw out the question of plantain as a weed control in rows of corn while musing about the possibilities.

        Yes, corn is a grass, but it’s also a sorghum. I rapidly produces a substantial stalk, whereas plantain rarely grows the leafy base (the source of the greens for salads/cooking) over 10-12 inches tall, and very slender seed stalks which can reach maybe 18-inches, but are very fragile and pose no problems for walking through them.

        Up until this spring, I viewed plantain as an edible weed scattered around my yard and pasture. Back in late February, I scooped all the chicken litter out of the chicken house in prep for a new batch of pullets. I spread this litter in a fairly small area of pasture (maybe 15’x40′). Evidently my previous flock of chickens loved plantain seeds, and just as evident, plantain seeds must survive just fine as they pass through the chickens digestive tract. Where I spread the litter is now solid plantain.

        While, as near as I can tell, plantain comes back from the same roots every year, it appears that it spreads by seed, not from runners (don’t know this for sure). If true, I would think the plantain would not choke out the corn once the corn is established.

        As for whether it dies off enough in the winter to plant among them, yes, like dandelion, it dies back to the roots in the dormant season.

        Like I said, just idle thoughts.

  25. Pour boiling water on them. Seriously it kills them and their cell structure. Also costs nothing.
    Good old Aussie invention :)

  26. I use roofing paper. lasts for years, heavy enough wind doesn’t effect it and nothing grows up through it.

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