Using Plants to Crowd Out Weeds

Using Plants to Crowd Out Weeds Information

By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor

General Characteristics

The use of crowding plants for weed control is a time honored way of controlling unwanted plants in both the flower and the vegetable garden. Based on the assumption that if the weed has no place to grow, it will wither and die before it has a chance to be a problem.

The theory behind this method is that by growing flowers, crops or lawns close together the weeds will not get past the germination stage as there is no way for them to find the sunlight they need to thrive.

Growing Conditions

Most flowers and vegetables prefer well drained soil and an abundance of sunlight to thrive. Weeds are no different; so the objective is to deprive any unwanted plants of optimal growing conditions.

Cultivation and Care

Flowers and vegetables should be planted as close together as possible. As the plants mature, thin them as needed but also maintain enough closeness between the plants to shade the area beneath. In areas where the plants need extra space between individual plants, mulch heavily or plant a ground cover to crowd the space.

Weed Control Techniques

* In flower gardens, plant broadleaf or fast growing ground covers such as vincas or hostas to control unwanted plants. Vincas work by rapidly multiplying and crowding out any undesirable weeds. Vinca works well in the battle against poison ivy or other low growing weeds.
* Hostas shade the ground beneath them depriving weeds of sunlight and hampering their growth.
* Bulbs should be planted as close together as possible while retaining the beauty of the plant. Ground covers such as forget-me-nots can be used in between planted bulbs.
* Rock or gravel can be used in the flower garden to deprive weeds of growing space and can also make walking pathways that are pleasing to the eyes.
* In the vegetable garden, squash, cucumber, melons or other wide leaf vegetable plants protect the garden from unwanted plants by shading the ground beneath the vines.
* If at all possible, garden rows should be double planted with desired plants alternating along the row. Square foot gardening, where plants are grown in space intensive patterns, reduces weeds to next to nothing.
* Mulch can be used around all plants and trees to inhibit weed growth. Apply mulch as soon as possible after the plants have been established and thinned to desired spacing.
* For lawn care, the application of a slow release fertilizer during the growing season will promote grass growth and crowd out weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass and other undesirable plants.

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