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5 Easy Steps to Organic Weed Control for Beds & Borders

This system for straightforward organic weed management is likely one of the most important gardening ideas you’ll find at AOC – it revolutionized my gardening life, permitting me to have a number of healthy shrub and flower borders without having to weed and fertilize all summer time long. When you haven’t completed this but, prepare to adore it!

5 easy steps-organic weed control

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Do you battle weeds in your garden? Do you ever feel like giving up on gardening due to the weeds?

In all honesty, there have been occasions I’ve felt like that, too, because I would like to garden organically. So most of the articles I’ve learn emphasized hand-pulling weeds as really the one method to eliminate weeds – or attempt smothering them in a mulch and hope they gained’t poke by way of in a couple of weeks.

But I’m right here to say, unequivocally, that there are methods to struggle weeds that don’t involve chemical compounds. I’ve found how to reduce weeds in:

But probably the most life-changing (at the least in my gardening life) for me are the five straightforward steps I exploit to control weeds in our backyard shrub and flower beds – and never simply for spring, however for the whole yr!

That’s proper, with the steps I outline under you gained’t have to worry about weeds again until next spring. AND every year after that the weeds you’ll have to cope with can be less and less. Actually! In only a couple of hours you’ll be finished with a lot of the maintenance for your flower bed – all that will probably be left to do is water and benefit from the blooms.


What’s my secret?

Properly, it’s not that much of a secret, because it’s a way that I’ve written about before. And informed everyone I know. And perhaps shouted it from the rooftops, ha! The method includes:

Newspaper (or cardboard) and Mulch

Yep – and every time I write that, I swear I hear angels singing (I discussed it’s life-changing, proper?).

Since this system is such a time and sanity saver (and pretty much the only purpose I’ve shrub and flower borders all through our yard to take pleasure in) I felt I needed to share the precise steps I take – with some earlier than and after footage – so you’ll be able to see how straightforward this is. And the way nice it works.

Will this really scale back weeding in beds and borders?

Once I get all our beds completed utilizing this technique, I really do have so much much less work for the remainder of the yr.

Right here’s proof from our earlier cottage garden:

Previously mulch flower bed

This is one aspect of the entrance flower mattress that was coated in newspaper and mulch the earlier summer time (we use bought garden compost for our mulch, which I clarify under).

As you’ll be able to see, there are just a few weeds here and there which are straightforward to pull thanks to all the mulch, with extra concentrated around the stepping stones. That’s as a result of it’s onerous to get the layers of newspaper in between the stones until we carry them, and clearly we didn’t take the time. Should you raise up stones and layer paper utterly beneath them, you’ll have even much less weeds than this.

Now, for comparison, take a look at the opposite end of the same mattress that we didn’t get to:

Unmulched weedy flower bed example

This end of the shrub and perennial bed by no means received its layer of paper and mulch. We ran out of the compost mulch and never finished the mattress – actually you possibly can see on the correct exactly where we ran out of the paper and mulch close to the stepping stones.

There are some crops in all the weeds on the left, but a lot of the green “groundcover”are little child weeds, plus those early spring “poppers” (aka, bittercress) I hate. Hindsight is 20/20, proper?

Don’t let this occur to your flower beds – comply with these 5 steps to natural weed control and make your life simpler!

Take a look at the video we made about this system after which learn on for extra particulars on the steps:

5 Easy Steps to Organic Weed Control

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

  • Backyard instruments: trowel and small hand rake, a small shovel, (my favorite shovel since I discovered it!) and a metallic rake. You’ll want a great set of pruners, too, to reduce any crops that want it. I additionally all the time use a kneeling pad and carry my instruments in a garden tote so I don’t have to run forwards and backwards once I overlook one thing.
  • Mulch. You’ll want sufficient mulch to cowl your space at the very least 2-inches thick. You should use backyard compost like we do (don’t use do-it-yourself compost for this, although, because the weed seeds gained’t have been killed like business compost), bark chips, tree trimmings, pine needles and even straw (although it gained’t look nearly as good in flower beds). Execs & Cons of mulches:
    • Backyard compost: Execs: we like the brown shade of the mulch backyard facilities name “garden compost.” But the other advantage of using compost is that it feeds your soil because it breaks down appearing as a fertilizer – and actually it’s the one fertilizer I’ve ever used on my beds (strike another thing off the to-do listing!). Con: it is extra soil-like, so can grow extra weeds than bark. In case your area stays moist or is near areas where weeds blow in, this may be a problem.
    • Bark Chips or Tree Trimmings: Execs: straightforward to lay (lighter weight) and tree trimmings may even be free. Weeds do not sprout in wood chips as simply as compost. Cons: doesn’t feed the soil on it’s personal, because it takes nitrogen to decompose, though it could work for those who unfold it with one other nitrogen source.
    • Straw or grass clippings: these are primarily for vegetable gardens, as they don’t look excellent round flowers and shrubs.
    • Local mulches like pine needles, cocoa shells, and extra: in the event you stay in an area the place these several types of mulches can be found, undoubtedly look into them. Ensure you realize what they do as they decompose so that you’ll know in the event you need to add a fertilizer.
  • Newspaper or cardboard (the secret weapon!) – and LOTS of it. We gather newspapers all yr long and use it up every spring. You may as well use cardboard, however since it’s thicker, use it solely in areas you don’t need to plant any annuals (like beneath timber or between giant, established shrubs). It’s also more durable to place around crops because the items are greater. Cardboard does last more, so chances are you’ll get away with an every other yr software. Paper grocery luggage are good, too, minimize and opened up, but newspaper is often best to purchase.

Weed-filled Flower Bed Early Spring

Step 2: Trim shrubs and perennials, then calmly pull weeds.

I like to wait until late winter or early spring to do this as an alternative of the fall, because the lifeless progress helps shield crops from frost injury and supplies habitat and seed heads for the birds. Plus, there’s no method I’d find time within the fall to do this with all the vegetable harvest coming in, however I like the hen excuse higher, ha!

TIP: Attempt to get the roots of the perennial weeds like dandelions, but for the annual weeds simply pull any huge ones so that the paper can lay down flat. The layers will kill any little ones left. Yes, this means you do NOT have to pull all the weeds, just cover those guys up. Yay!!

Step 3: Trim the mattress edges by trenching a grass edge or chopping the grass close to a permanent edge.

The bed pictured right here has cement edgers, but lots of our other garden beds are simply grass (you’ll be able to see a tour of our complete yard and gardens here).

I exploit a easy guide grass edger like this to minimize a trench alongside grass edges, then pull out the sod items and compost them. Weed-whip grass towards cement edging.

Laying Newspaper Layer in Flower Bed

Step 4: Begin layering the paper- your secret weapon.

Listed here are some points to keep in mind when laying the paper:

  • The thicker you layer the paper, the more weed-blocking it should do– I like to use four to 6 layers.
  • Don’t use shiny, coloured ads- simply common newsprint (which may have colour, too- that is OK, simply not the shiny paper). Word on the ink: the ink in newsprint is soy-based now, so it’s perfectly good to use in our natural landscapes like this.
  • Overlap the sides of the papers an excellent inch or two- the thought is to not give a gap for the weeds!
  • If there’s wind, maintain a hose close by and spray the papers as you lay them to maintain them secure earlier than including the mulch.
  • If the bottom is dry, water properly first- like, you didn’t get to it earlier and it’s already July (not that I find out about that, a-hem). Then spray the paper as properly. The mulch will assist hold within the moisture for that time of yr.
  • Lay the paper beneath soaker hoses, should you use them.

Mulched Flower Bed Early Spring

Step 5: Lastly, cover all of the paper with mulch.

The more mulch you employ, the higher it is going to suppress weeds – a 2-inch layer is minimum.

This is the place the magic occurs and also you go from weedy mess to clean and tidy – it’s such an ideal feeling of accomplishment – particularly because you didn’t have to pull all.the.weeds. Better yet, it’ll continue to look great for months!

Newspaper and Mulch Q&A

What if I would like to plant one thing later in the season?

It’s straightforward! Merely push apart the mulch the place you need to plant, use a trowel to reduce into the paper and bend it again (like a guide cowl). Dig a gap, place the plant in it and fill with dust, tamp it down such as you usually would.

Then substitute the bent over paper (tearing if wanted to fit across the new plant) and cover with the mounded mulch. No drawback.

This isn’t as straightforward with cardboard, as I mentioned, so cardboard ought to be used in areas you gained’t want to do some other planting.

Can you do this around timber?

Using paper and mulch around trees

Yes, this weed control technique can be utilized round timber, too, as an alternative of buying expensive “tree rings” or using plastic edging (than invariably will get nicked with the mower…). Here’s how to adapt this system for timber:

  • Lay a LOT of layers of paper (10-15 layers) proper over the mown grass in a unfastened circle, tucking the sharp corners in on the surface as needed.
  • Cowl with 2-Three inches of mulch, however don’t mound it up to the trunk.

The tree pictured above was finished final yr, and you may see the way it stayed grass-free all yr. It wants another layer this spring to see it via the subsequent yr. In fact, you may give it a pleasant, reduce edge if that’s something you like…I assume you’ll be able to see which camp we fall in.

What do beds appear to be with wood chips?

garden mulched with paper and wood chips

Above is an example of my mother’s garden in early spring that we coated in cardboard and free tree timing wood chips (you possibly can see more particulars on the clear up here, together with how filled with weeds it was!). This is an area that’s always moist, so the common compost didn’t work to maintain the weeds down.

Even two years later, there were just some weeds that needed to be pulled!

Do you could have any more examples I can see?

Positive! Listed here are a couple of extra areas round our previous residence’s yard to hopefully inspire you:

partially papered and mulched flower bed

Laying paper and mulch with soaker hose. You’ll be able to see in the prime left the world that also wants to be completed, in addition to the left aspect of the stepping stones.

Covering Flower Bed with Paper and Mulch

I really like how the brand new layer of paper and mulch makes the mattress look so recent again. See the uninteresting shade of final yr’s mulch in contrast?

freshly mulched bird-bath bed

This clean and tidy look is what motivates me to get on the market and get the beds cleaned up. That and the truth that I do know if I get it executed, I gained’t have to do it once more for one other yr!

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Easy organic weed control all season long

I promise that in the event you use the following pointers for weed management, your gardening life might be changed ceaselessly identical to mine was! Do let me know should you use this and how it works for you, too.

This text has been updated, it was originally revealed in March 2011.

Disclosure: affiliate links on this article will earn commission based mostly on sales, however it doesn’t change your worth. Click right here to read my full disclaimer and promoting disclosure.

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