How do you keep weeds down?

jlynn(8 sc)December 31, 2006

Great to find this forum! I have MS and some pretty severe mobility issues at times. Last year I had problems keeping up with the weeding. I finally had to resort to hiring a friend's boys to catch me up.

Am trying to plan ahead for this years garden and thinking of ways to keep weeding to a minimum. Have any of you used that black fabric stuff that is supposed to stop weeds? How did it work? Any other suggestions?



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buffburd(z5 NY)

Use 6-10 layers of newspapers with shredded leaves, straw, and/or coffee grounds on top, its organic so it will break down in the soil and is better for the soil than weed cloth. No need to worry about having too many layers of mulch, more is more often than not better.

I've found that with the extra nutrients and moisture retention from the thick mulch the plants will grow bigger and crowd out most weeds anyways.

If you're gardening with rows of vegetables you can change to using wide beds (2 ft wide if against a wall, 4 ft wide if there are paths on both sides). This will also reduce the amount of weeds, since groups of plants reduce the area for weeds to grow in.

When planting in rows weeds can grow on both sides of the row, so the weed circumference to planting area ratio is large. When planting in wide beds the weed circumference to planting area ratio is smaller, so less weeding is needed.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 8:59PM
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homegrown54(z6 SE Ohio)

buffburd is so right..there's something I'd like to add to it. .I don't know exactly how you are gardening, (tilling?) but, if you quit tilling altogether, you can get ahead of all the local weeds in the garden. Some will blow in, sure, but I quit tilling in my main garden about four years ago, pull a week before it goes to seed, and since you are not turning the ground over and exposing more seeds, you will find a great new way. Rather than pay a weeder, pay someone to bring you their leaves, spoiled hay, and the like. Lasagna gardening. Make your own soil this way. The earthworms will come back since you are not destroying their work, your ph will balance.. it's a great thing. I go by the old saying "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
She will leap to your cause if you give her the right deal.
Does this make sense?
Best... Homegrown
P.S. I see you are in Wyoming, so slugs are likely not a problem. that's the only setback with close mulch.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 5:17PM
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marie99(z8 SC)

Newspaper, cardboard and old clothes just barely covered with mulch to look good.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 9:34AM
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ssfkat3(7/8 virginia)

LOVE the old clothes hint! Maybe that is what i'll do with all the fabric I have here now that I've stopped quilting??? :D

newspaper, not disturbing the dirt, and a ton of mulch, works great. The key is NOT to let the sun hit those dormant weed seeds, and to pluck the few that will blow in as they grow.

I'm going to BEG you NOT to use the weed cloth!!! When we bought our house nine years ago there was weed cloth in all the gardens, as well as plenty of weeds. (house was empty for two years). Back then I was healthy, and could tackle it, but it took me two years to get the weeds out and that cloth gone. I'd never have the strenght to do that now.

I also have MS, diagnosed 18 months ago, and am on disability now, so I know some of the mobility issues you are facing. I also have degenerative disk disease, and it sure is messing up my neck, LOL, sporting a shiny new plate from T1-C4 now, so keeping weeds down is my HIGHEST priority at this point.

and that is how i'll be doing mine! It's worked for me in the past, problem is, you still have to keep up with putting down newspaper, as it does decompose!

Let the worms do the work, just give them new stuff to come up and get!!! most of all, never hesitate to get the muscle in whatever way you can, i'm finding money talks, but guilt laid on my kids works cheaper :D

wishing you a ton of luck!!!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 10:33PM
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lyn_r(z6 OH)

My flower gardens are very large and I realized a couple years ago that even mulching would no longer be an option for me. I knew I was either going to have to have all my gardens destroyed or find a way to control the weeds. Paying someone to do the weeding was not an option either.

In my quest for saving my gardens I discovered the wonderful groundcovers. Creeping sedums for sunny gardens and ajuga for shade gardens are my favorites, although I am adding different ones this year for variety. In the areas where the groundcovers have completely filled in I have no weeds at all.

Last summer I was recuperating from a badly broken and dislocated ankle and was extremely limited in my mobility. In previous years I had continuously battled the weeds along the north side of our detached garage with pulling, mulch and Roundup, but there was no way I could even walk to the area so I reconciled myself to sitting and watching the weeds grow. Much to my surprise, I saw fewer and fewer tall weeds growing and a beautiful groundcover of CREEPING CHARLIE had taken over! The weed I had battled with unsuccessfully for all those years became my 'saving grace'! Not that Charlie is welcome just anyplace in my gardens, but he is a keeper for the garage area!! :-)

Spend some time on the Groundcovers forum here on GW and you can finds tons of great information.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 3:49PM
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ninjabut(USDA z 8,CA) This has sojme great ground covers!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:37PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

Here in Fla., we fight the weeds year round. My garden is almost 6 yrs. old and I really noticed the difference this year in the areas with the heaviest mulch. The weed population is really down. I use the cypress mulch, because it's the cheapest and most readily available. I keep a foot wide band of rubber mulch around the foundation of the house, to keep the termites away, and that keeps the weeds out, too.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 11:31AM
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I use the wet newspapers and cover them with mulch--wood chips or pinestraw. You never see the paper --it blocks out everything and it rots down.
I wouldn't use the landscaping material cuz eventualy it gets really gross--but it doesn't rot all the way so you end up having to redo the bed and pull out all the old semi rotten cloth. mary

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:03PM
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I was wondering if fabric (cloth) will keep weeds away. I do know that the weed guard will work for a season but it does allow the weeds to breath. I am going to do a pallet garden and need to put something under it and was just wondering if cloth (like making clothes from) would work and allow the plants to grow.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:50PM
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Weeds will damage the healthy plants and kill them. Its better not to keep weeds and not use it for clothing. Avoid it if possible..

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 5:03AM
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I use Preen. It can get a little costly if you have a large garden. It lasts about 3 months.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2015 at 4:33PM
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Curt D'Onofrio

We are new to gardening. Last season we put down mulch (2" thick). Worked surprisely well to keep down the weeds

    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 11:06PM
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Are we talking about a vegetable garden, or landscape beds? I have read about implementing layers of compost in a vegetable garden as opposed to tilling, as many of you mentioned. I have never tested it, but it made sense to me when a pretty well educated compost guy likened it to layers of leaves in a wooded area. The soil is rich and loaded with worms with few weeds.

On the subject of fabric / weed barrier not all brands are created equally, and the poor quality types give the good products a bad name. Fabriscape, for example produces a good product. It is a strong woven material that cannot be ripped with your hands like the thin papery stuff they sell in box stores--it is so strong it can be difficult to cut with scissors and utility knives at times. It has a fuzzy underside that does an amazing job gripping to soil. A few sod pins to hold it in place until it is covered and you are good to go. I have gone back to projects 10-15 years later and found it difficult to peel off the ground, and still strong as ever to tear.

I do recommend using a decorative stone mulch instead of a wood mulch product. Wood mulch will eventually compost an provide a possible seed bed on top of the fabric. If the stone you choose has some sediment in it, you may still get weeds, but if installed correctly you should have about 80-90% fewer weeds.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 10:44AM
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Helen Zone 6 Ohio

I use a good quality weed barrier that I purchase from the Amish Garden store near my home. Water can go through it and it lasts for quite a few years. I pull it up every year, scrape off the weeds from the underside and use it again.

I use horse manure that is applied every year so it provides plenty of weed seeds. I don't see managing the weeds any other way than using the fabric weed barrier. I plan to purchase another roll this season. It is much better than the fabric barrier you can purchase from the box stores.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 6:01AM
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When we built our raised garden beds last year I sprung for the most expensive groundcover I could get my hands on, despite the woman at the nursery telling me to use cardboard. It was so tough it required me to cut it with a utility knife. I certainly learned my lesson. The fenced garden is surrounded by a terrible spreading grass. The grass grew under the fabric and up into the beds and pathways. I finally resorted to killing it all at the end of the season after our last harvest. We even sprayed an additional 10 feet around the fence. Much to my horror, as I scraped back the mulch last weekend I found that the grass underneath was not only still there poking through the fabric (everywhere), it was turning green already!!!!

I am now pulling back the old mulch and laying (free) cardboard boxes on top of the "weed barrier". I suppose only time will tell, but if I could go back, I would have first tried cardboard.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 6:53AM
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Helen Zone 6 Ohio

Cardboard is good and I also use feed bags that are made with strong paper. Anyway, for a large area I still go for the fabric weed barrier. I still ended up pulling weeds again and again in the onion patch. Don't think I will grow onions this year.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 7:02AM
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