Weeds pop up and threaten a hostile takeover of some sections of my garden every year. Most home gardeners face this onslaught of weed growth, typically after a good soaking rain, at some point during the growing season. To weaken the weedy forces and decrease their number without chemicals, give these 4 natural weed control methods a try.
Feed the Soil
Start your organic weed control battle at the root of the problem – the soil itself. Build up the soil with plenty of rich organic matter so it can support strong, healthy plant growth and promote fast growth of the desired plants. The stronger and healthier the desired garden plants are, the more the weeds will be choked out and unable to reproduce.
Apply a thick layer of 6-8 inches of organic matter, like compost, well-rotted cow manure or shredded leaves, to the top of the garden soil and work it into the soil to the depth of 15-18 inches. The organic matter will provide food for worms and other soil-dwelling garden benefactors that work to break down the organic matter and improve soil structure naturally.
A light tilling with a roto-tiller is better than deeply over plowing your garden plot in the battle against weeds. Excessive soil cultivation can actually increase the weed population by bringing up deeply buried weed seeds to the top couple inches of soil where they germinate easily and grow rapidly. Deep roto-tilling also brings the tiller tines into contact with deeply buried weed rhizomes, roots and stolons, chopping them into small pieces that regenerate into new weed plants.
Overhead watering with a hose or sprinkler system waters the garden plants and the weeds at the same time. Having wet leaves for a prolonged period of time also weakens garden plants and makes them more susceptible to pest damage and being overtaken by weeds. Use a drip irrigation system to water wisely by getting the water directly to the roots of the desired plants and letting the undesired plants die of thirst.
Not enough can be said for the use of mulch in a garden. In addition to improving soil, retaining moisture and cooling the soil from the summer sun, a 3-4 layer of mulch also is an effect weed control method. A blanket of mulch on top of garden soils suppresses the weeds and prevents them germinating. Apply a layer of organic mulch when garden plants reach about 4 inches in height.