Too many weeds in flower bed - how to control?

ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)August 24, 2009

My 2 flower beds are full of numerous weeds. I killed them all manually one month ago and they are back. Mostly grass and dandelions and some weed with yellow flowers. Too numerous to undertake the manual weeding again. I am too frustrated at this point and am thinking of harsh chemicals (which I am vehemently against under normal circumstances). Any suggestions??

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

It is difficult to use chemicals in a flowerbed because they are non selective and will kill whatever foliage they contact. If you don't like to hoe it is best to mulch to prevent the germination of the weed seeds. Al

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 9:38AM
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How did you kill them "manually"?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 11:23AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

It just makes you want to scream, doesn't it? This time of year is terrible for the portulaca, the pigweed, the bermuda, the spurge... not to mention the oxalis, which is impossible to eradicate.

Some of these weeds, like the bermuda, the oxalis, and the portulaca, can grow back from a single rootlet. And once you weed, you stir up the soil, exposing new weed seeds to light and then they grow!

Take heart: once your flower beds fill in they will shade out many of the weeds. Until then, take Al's advice and spread two inches of fine mulch or three inches of bark mulch over the garden after you weed. It's expensive, but it will save you water and labor for years to come.

If you have bermuda grass, though, you will never be rid of it by picking. You will have to either pull out all of your flowers and plants and kill it with chemicals or with some sort of wet newspaper/mulch combination that will suffocate it.

Good luck. I'm going out to weed now...


    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 4:24PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Thanks, all. I am going to try the wet newspaper/cardboard and mulch combo.
Gardenguru - my method of "manually" getting rid of weeds is to sit in the bed all day long, and pull out the weeds one by one, sometimes using a screwdriver to dig a little if they are well established weeds. Not very interesting!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:57PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Let us know how it works for you, okay? I have a few spots that could use that treatment.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 9:05PM
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A couple of non-toxic weeding techniques I use are:
* 15% strength vinegar will kill weeds and prized plants alike, but gets the job done down below the soil too.

* A teapot of boiling water can save some wear and tear on the knees.

* The corner of a hula hoe (D-hoe) is very useful for working out certain weed roots.

* I mulch as much as I possibly can and try not to let the weeds go to seed.

* Young kids make good (but indiscriminate) weeders. I bribe the family pre-teens sometimes for low-risk areas.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 11:13PM
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1. Know what a weed is. Weeds are pioneers. They are natures way of covering disturbed and bare ground.

2. DonÂt disturb the ground. Except for actually planting new plants or cultivating for a new vegetable garden or flower bed, avoid breaking the surface of the soil.

That includes avoiding pulling, digging, tilling to remove weeds. Yanking out even the tiniest weed makes two mistakes. It brings up weed seeds that have been accumulating at the deeper levels of your soil where they have been too deep to germinate. It also creates a disturbed bit of ground that new weed seeds blowing in find suitable for setting anchor. An additional note: weed pulling disturbs the roots of the desired plants nearby. Evere wonder why people who pull weeds are ALWAYS pulling weeds?!

3. Cover the ground. Mulch newly planted areas, vegetable gardens and annual flower beds.

The best mulch for smothering weeds is a semi-composted organic material of medium diameter particles (about ½-inch) that is applied four to six inches thick. DonÂt skimp.

Contrary to popular belief, geotextile fabrics (plastics, "landscape cloth") do not work well in the long run and actually lead to more weeds.

Plant living groundcovers to "finish" the landscape and garden. Use low, dense, mat-forming groundcovers to truly cover the ground completely. Some of the most effective weed-suppressant groundcovers include Acacia redolens, Campanula poscharskyana, Cerastium tomentosum, Dymondia margaretae, Gazania rigens (gray-leafed trailing), and Thymus polytrichus ÂPink ChintzÂ.

Plant other plants (low, dense, spreading shrubs and/or full clumping perennials) densely enough to leave no room between them.

The idea is to cover the ground so thoroughly that no weed seeds can find their way to the ground. Those that do make it to the ground cannot make their way up. And those very few that do make it up canÂt compete well.

4. Hoe weeds. When weeds do come up in open ground, the best way to eliminate weeds for the long run is to "shave" them off with a sharp hoe. A Dutch or onion hoe is ideal; these have shallow but wide blades that work as does your razor blade.

Hoeing works on weed seedlings. The larger the weed, unfortunately, the more difficult it becomes to actually be able to scrape them off with a hoe.

Use the hoe as you would a razor, scraping toward you with the blade level from side to side against the ground and the handle tilted up enough to allow the sharpest part of the blade to cut at the base of the weeds.

ItÂs important that you sharpen the hoe blade regularly with a fine rasping file. You keep your best kitchen knives sharp all the time; why not your hoe.

The soil is best hoed when pretty dry. The hoe doesnÂt cling to the soil and neither do the weeds.

Hoeing works for all young weeds. Young annual weeds (our most common type) once hoed, do not return.

Perennial weeds will re-sprout from storage roots, tubers, underground stems and the like. The resprouting does, however, use up the food in the storage organ, thereby weakening the plant and a second hoeing of these, within a week of their resprouting will rid the plant of its ability to photosynthesize (which puts more food back into the storage organ). With older perennial weeds, the storage organ will continue to send up a new sprout and your persistent hoeing will eventually totally exhaust the organ.

Where hoeing is impractical (tight spots, flower beds, containers), use a snipper of an apporpiate size. yeah, it works and it really isn't that much work, in the long run. I do it.

5. Mow weeds. Where seasonal weeds have grown too tall for a hoe to scrape them off easily, mow them down with a regular lawn mower. If they continue to grow, mow them again. Repeat.

This works best if you mow them early, before they get too tall. The idea is to keep them mowed until beyond their blooming period, if you have to, so that they never set seed and become a worse problem or at least a continuing problem. Annual weeds eventually give up and peter away.

Tall-growing perennial weeds also give up and fade
away. Low-growing perennial weeds, however, are persistent  maybe even more vigorous -- under this process. Hoeing (early on, of course) and mulching are better methods for such low-growing weeds as oxalis, dandelions and many clovers.

6. Snip off the awkward weeds. Where you have small weeds popping up in the mulch or in the lawn, use any sharp tool to cut them off at their very base. No need to pull, which would either disturb the mulch or interfere with the lawn. This technique also is the best method for removing weeds from containers in which youÂre growing other plants.

7. Cut down the big stuff. Use a special tool called a weed cutter. ItÂs used much as you would a golf club, swinging with an easy stroke back and forth through the stems of the weeds. For those of you who are power-inclined, get out your power weed whacker.

8. Mow your lawn high. If you need to reduce or prevent lawn weeds, set your mower blades to 3 to 4 inches high. A tall-growing lawn shades out weed seedlings and produces a healthier lawn overall that better competes with almost all weeds.

9. Avoid frequent fertilizing of your lawn. Lawns do best with a good organic fertilizer once or twice a year. More frequent fertilizing, especially with quick-acting fertilizers and especially in summer feed the weeds as well as your lawn.

10. Water your lawn infrequently and deeply. Frequent shallow watering encourages weed seed germination. An aside: frequent, shallow waterings also increase disease problems as well as create a less drought and heat tolerant lawn.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 12:30AM
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I'm giving this a try, Joe! Wish me luck. If you're still around.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:08PM
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Thanks Joe for all the info! With the rains we have been getting, I can see tons of weeds and grass growing in my flower beds. I will use the hoe and use more low growing plants.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 10:13AM
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