Watermelons are popular summer crops in home gardens, and thrive in areas that provide long frost-free growing seasons. These colorful melons can grow to over 20 lbs. at maturity, depending on the variety, but require sun, warmth and lots of weed-free space for their growth.
Watermelons are large, vining plants that require extensive space both individually and in patches. Each watermelon plant should have at least 6 feet of space in every direction for growth.
Watermelons cannot tolerate competition when they're young, so it's important to weed a site thoroughly before planting. This preparation should also include eliminating any litter and rocks in the area.
According to Ohio State University, many commercial growers and home gardeners use black plastic mulch during watermelon planting to suppress weeds from the start. Because watermelons are long, vining plants, they grow easily above the plastic, where they have access to air and sun.
An all-natural way to control weed growth around watermelons is organic mulch, which restricts sun exposure and keeps weeds from sprouting. Organic mulch also encourages moisture retention and warmth in the soil.
Gardeners who choose to grow watermelons without plastic or organic mulch must monitor their melon patch consistently for competition and weeds. The University of Illinois suggests weekly hoeing and weeding to keep watermelons healthy.
Although many gardeners are tempted to use herbicides in their gardens to prevent weed growth, these products come with some serious considerations. They may harm and kill watermelon plants, and as poisons they should never be used around fruits and vegetables meant for consumption.