No matter where you live, there’s one thing that anyone can grow whether they try to or not—weeds. And while tending to weeds is certainly not the point of gardening, there's no way to get around them. There’s no one answer to the war on weeds, but with a little concerted and consistent effort, it is possible to keep more flowers than weeds in your flower beds, just follow these simple techniques.
Apply a pre-emergent weed killer. “Rather than attacking the weed once it is already established and growing, it is much more effective, and safer, to use a pre-emergent on weed seeds before they germinate,” said Jennie Addie, Horticulturist and Nursery Manager of Green Thumb West.
Mulch as much as possible. “It provides a more natural way to protect your flower beds from being overtaken by weeds,” said Charles Phillips, Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for the Columbia County Extension Service. "The mulch blocks the sunlight from hitting the soil and stops some of the germination," Phillips explained.
Pull weeds when they are small. It won’t prevent a complete regrowth, but getting the roots out does seem to help discourage a swift return. More than anything, perhaps the best tools for ridding a garden of weeds are a gardeners' pair of hands. "Sometimes hand pulling is the only option we have," Phillips said. "Just do a little bit every day and stay on top of it."
- To successfully use a pre-emergent, "first dig in the area where plants will be placed, then prepare the soil," Addie said. "While preparing the soil, add the pre-emergent of your choice; this will create a chemical barrier."
- While pre-emergents are effective, also note that "they are only to be used on gardens that will house transplants," Addie said. "They will kill plants as they grow from seeds.
- Be careful not to use post-emergent weed killers. They will kill both the weed and the plant.