It’s War! When the warmer weather arrives so do the weeds in your lawn and garden. They are nasty. They disrupt the kerb appeal of your property and can quickly take over if you don’t keep the under control. Weeds also steal important nutrients from your pots, your lawn and the gardens you spend your time cultivating. Here are a few of our secrets to help you battle the next weed battle organically.
All Hail Mulch!
Mulch is one of your biggest allies when it comes to controlling garden weeds. A think layer of mulch over the soil is a natural weed deterent. It acts by blocking the light that weeds need to germinate. Mulch is also great at holding in moisture, so in dry, hot climates like Australia it can save on your water bills as water evaporates more slowly.
The secret to laying down any mulch is working the soil first. Get the weeds out and turn the soil. Once your pots or garden beds are prepared then you can lay enough mulch to stop the weeds. I’d recommend that you use a consistent depth 10-12 centimetres of mulch across your entire garden surface to ensure that there is significant and effective coverage. Try to leave a small amount of space to allow the stems of plants to grow uninterrupted. Mulch too close to the step can cause rot if you’re not careful. For best mulching results, I’ve always found that adding a layer of shredded leaves as an organic fertiliser under a bed of wood chip or bulk mulch.
You don’t have to buy mulch either. You can always use a shredder to create a fresh organic mulch from healthy lopped tree branches, and felled trees. If you yard is big enough, find a space to keep a dry supply of your own ready-made mulch, and if not you can always find wood chip bark and mulch at your local garden centre.
Solarisation is a handy process of preparing your beds during the Summer months. First you pull out weeds, and hoe the garden bed; raking out as many weeds as you can. After the hard work is done, you moisten the soil and cover it with clear plastic with the edges are weighted down so they don’t blow around. When you do this, any remaining weed remnants will cook in the heat of the sun and this process will kill them off.
Pulling weeds when they’re small is also a good way to keep them from getting out of control. Establishing a regular ‘weed patrol’ will work best to ensure that weeds can’t take hold in your yard. When pulling weeds out, you need to ensure that you pull them out from the root, or they will re-establish very quickly.
The Queensland Department of Industries have an excellent guide to disposing of weeds to stop their spread. In it, they recommend gardeners ensure that weeds don’t end up on your compost pile or mulch. Weeds and other diseases can survive the mulching process.
There are many products on the market that are designed to kill weeds and prevent them from growing, and among them you will find a range of organic products to use on your weeds. When using an herbicide you must carefully apply it only to the weed and use it according to the manufacturers instructions, because otherwise it may kill the plants you want to keep.
An Organic Garden
Herbicide is a big issue if you are growing vegetables, because you don’t want to risk it heading into the food chain. The best thing you can do is use organic methods that don’t require the use of synthetic herbicides.
An effective method of weed reduction that won’t harm your family is Horticultural Vinegar (which is made from Acetic Acid). It works in the same way as familiar synthetic herbicides like “Round Up” and it is applied directly to weeds, causing them to wither and die. You can control the application by ‘painting on’ the vinegar directly or using a sponge rather than a spray bottle. You’ll find Horticultural Vinegar at organic garden suppliers.
Another great solution for killing weeds is applying boiling water. It works particular well for weeds growing on your driveway or pavement.