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5 Easy Ways To Prevent And Remove Weeds

June 17th, 2012

It’s that time of year again.  Summer temperatures are rising, and backyard weeds can grow just as fast as you can pour yourself an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Weeding will most likely be the brunt of the maintenance required in the summer time, as weeds thrive in the dry heat and can inhibit a vibrant garden. Aim to weed about 2-3 times a week, and remove weeds quickly when they are small, as large root systems won’t have the opportunity to form.

But before you run out to buy yourself a tube of Bengay for a future back braking session of weed pulling, we have some tricks to make the process easier.  While prevention is paramount to less grueling summer maintenance, we also have some helpful tips on killing weeds naturally (so you have more time to drink ice-cold glasses of lemonade).

1.  Prevent and control weeds with mulch.  We’ve already discussed the amazing benefits of mulching, and we love that weed control is one of them.  Covering the soil with a layer of mulch blocks weeds from growing, while lowering the soil’s temperature (weeds thrive in hot temperatures). Mulching can be done on the cheap or free, using materials like natural falling leaves, twigs, and pine needles, nut shells, plastic mulch sheets, shredded wood, hay, cardboard, bark, sawdust, crushed rocks or aged compost.

Sheri Blumenthal over at Farmer’s Almanac has this clever tip, “A great mulch combination is to first lay cardboard down and then leaves on top. You can add a layer of compost above the cardboard and then put the leaves on top for an extra nutrient kick. This process is called sheet mulching, and it does a much better job than just leaves alone.”

2.  For further prevention, resist the urge to turn the soil. Unseen to the gardener are a number of dormant weeds underneath the soil that require light and air to surface and thrive. Keeping the weeds underground by minimizing disturbances allows them to remain dormant, and “sleep.”

3.  Spray weeds with vinegar, salt and/or dish soap, a lethal combination that acts like a weed terminator. While salt dehydrates the weeds, vinegar acts as a natural herbicide, allowing plants to decompose in aerobic conditions. The dish soap works to help the solution to “stick” on the plant’s leaves and stalk. The University of Idaho recently conducted a study using vinegar as a weed killer, and found that vinegar had an 80-100% kill rate on selected weeds. To make your own batch, pour 1-quart household vinegar, ¼ cup salt, and 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle. Shake well, and spray liberally.

4.  Out of dish soap? Try boiling water and vinegar together.  Then carefully pour it in a heat resistant container. When immediately possible, pour the hot liquid directly over the weeds. The solution must be at boiling or near boiling point for the weed’s roots to “cook” and die.

5.  For acute weed growth, The DIY Network suggests reusing grass clippings by dumping them all over the entire area covered in weeds. The grass clippings acts as a soil amendment, and will stifle light and air from the weeds, until they eventually die.  While unsightly for a few days or weeks, this process can break the weed cycle and improve the overall health of the soil in the long term.

Looking for more maintenance tips to make life easier? Read through our summer guide!

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