Q: How do I control the weeds in my garden besides having to constantly cut them?

Weeds can be a real nuisance, but they also can help you determine the condition of your soil.  For instance, buttercup appears most in wet, compacted, clay soils, and clover appears most in soils with low fertility.  Dandelions thrive in dry soils with low oxygen levels, and moss thrives in the shade.

Q: How do I control the weeds in my garden besides having to constantly cut them?

Weeds can be a real nuisance, but they also can help you determine the condition of your soil.  For instance, buttercup appears most in wet, compacted, clay soils, and clover appears most in soils with low fertility.  Dandelions thrive in dry soils with low oxygen levels, and moss thrives in the shade.

Lawn grass will struggle to survive in the above conditions, making it easier for the weeds to take over.  The long-term solution to weed control in your lawn is to improve the soil conditions, enabling it to grow more robustly. To accomplish this aerate your lawn in the spring or fall, top-dress with ¼” compost, spread slow-release organic fertilizer each fall, and water properly during the summer.  Refrain from using herbicides, including roundup or weed & feed products, as they can be harmful to people, pets, and the environment.  If shade is the problem, consider replacing lawn with shade-loving groundcovers. 

Dandelions and other weeds with long tap roots can be pulled with a Weed Hound or other stand-up weed puller.  This is easiest when the soil is moist. Moss and large clover patches can be raked out.   For lawns or landscape beds, corn gluten is an organic pre-emergent that can be spread like fertilizer. It does not work on existing weeds but can help prevent seed germination for 4-8 weeks. 

Mulching tree and shrub beds can prevent weed problems by shading out the seeds, and can be used in tandem with corn gluten.  Weeds that are in gravel paths, in between patio pavers or sidewalk cracks, or other non-planted areas can be deterred by pouring white vinegar or boiling water on their crowns. Using a flame-weeder can also be effective in these areas.

Laura Matter, Natural Soil Building Program Manager at The Garden Hotline

The Garden Hotline can be reached at 206-633-0224, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions can also be emailed to help@gardenhotline.org.

More information can be found at http://www.gardenhotline.org/

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