10 Tricks to Help Control Weeds in Your Summer Garden
As the heat of the summer intensifies, you may notice that your garden vegetables are thriving. However, you might notice that the weeds are thriving, too. While a few weeds here and there can be beneficial to enhancing your garden’s overall success, too many can cause over competition for valuable nutrients, water, and soil space. Here are ten tricks to help you stay on top of weeds this summer – and increase your garden’s overall success.
- Mulch constantly
Weeds, like all other plants, need light in order to germinate and pop through the soil. Prevent light from infiltrating the soil by adding a thick layer of mulch to the soil. Mulch has a myriad of other gardening benefits, such as keeping the soil cool and damp and preventing unpleasant pests and diseases.
Mulch consistently, and keep in mind that chunkier mulches – like wood chips – do allow some rays of light pass through. You may need to mulch periodically throughout the summer as weed seeds filter through, but this method of controlling weeds is highly effective for most gardeners.
- Adopt a weeding schedule
If you’re cultivating a new area, or if you are new to gardening altogether, it’s wise to adopt a strict weeding regimen early on in the growing season. If you commit to weeding just a small amount every day, you are more likely to stay on top of emerging weeds without feeling overwhelmed by a garden filled with weeds. Young, tender weeds will also pull much more easily than ones that have had the time to develop roots.
- Weed after a heavy rain
Weeds pull easily when they’re rooted in damp soil. Try to weed first thing in the morning, before the dew has evaporated, or after it has rained.
- Use your tools
Don’t think you have to go at your weeds with bare knuckles and fingernails alone! There are several tools you can use to get control of summer weeds. Consider using a hoe to hack up large, tough weeds like grass, or use a fishtail weeder to pull up taprooted weeds such as dandelion or burdock. You can even use an old table fork or steak knife to dice up these unsuspecting invaders.
- Compost weeds
Don’t just leave weeds to rot in your garden! The majority of the weeds you pull will probably hold seeds, so leaving them in your garden will only cause them to regenerate and create new headaches for you to deal with. Instead, carry a basket with you as you weed and dump old weeds into your compost bin. Make sure you keep your compost hot to prevent weed seeds from surviving in your usable compost.
- If you can’t pull ‘em, chop ‘em
Sometimes weeds won’t fully pull from the soil, leaving behind long, strong taproots. If that’s the case, don’t panic. Cutting off the heads of weeds tends to at least buy you some time, and also reduces the likelihood of them reseeding.
- Choke weeds
Instead of spacing plants far apart – and creating more square footage of weed-friendly habitat – space your plants as close together as possible. While most seed packets list recommendations for spacing, keep in mind that it’s usually safe to plant about twenty-five percent closer than the recommended spacing guidelines.
- Lay down plastic
This won’t work for all plant species, but some plants appreciate the little bit of extra heat provided by thick black plastic. Landscaping plastic, easily purchased at a lawn and garden store, warms the soil and also prevents weeds from infiltrating in undesirable spots. Consider planting warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, and squashes into holes poked in dense plastic.
- Use natural herbicides
Synthetic herbicides can be a problem in organic vegetable gardens, as many can be toxic to humans at high levels. Furthermore, drifting can be a problem in just about any location. While some herbicides are listed as safe for use in a majority of plant species, others have a long list of vegetables that can be accidentally killed by herbicide application. When the wind blows and carries chemicals to these plants, you risk an unintended die-off of vital crops.
Instead, create an all-natural herbicide to use around your plants that will eliminate weeds and keep your plants healthy. A mixture of dish soap, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt dehydrates weeds and prevents them from reseeding for a considerable amount of time. You do need to be careful when applying this herbicide, as it does have the potential to kill your plants as well, but if applied mindfully this is a great alternative to synthetic herbicides.
- Water thoughtfully
Obviously, you can’t eschew watering your garden to prevent weeds, as this will also kill all of the plants you’ve worked so hard to grow. However, instead of using a broad sprinkler system to water your entire garden in one fell swoop, consider modifying your watering technique to help limit weed production. Drip irrigation systems target only the plants you want to water, while hand watering can reduce the likelihood of water reaching pesky weeds.
If you’re doing all you can to control weeds and still think your garden isn’t meeting its growing potential, consider boosting production with a natural supplement, like PlantCatalyst®. PlantCatalyst® is all all-natural plant additive that helps your plants regulate their own processes more easily. It can increase your garden’s fertility and maximize your yield.
It works in an obvious way. PlantCatalyst® helps plants absorb nutrients that are already present in the soil, and can be added to the soil long before planting or even after you have already planted. You won’t burn your plants with harmful, synthetic fertilizers or have to worry about any cross-contamination. Instead, you’ll notice your plants thriving when before they were merely subsisting.
While you can’t prevent weeds from developing in your garden, the best way to stay on top of them is to develop a regimented plan that involves lots of vigilance, attention to detail, and careful, regular weeding. Try these methods to eliminate weeds, and to encourage your plants to thrive year after year.