Keeping Weeds Out of Flower Beds

Question:

How can I, a physically disabled women, keep grass and weeds out of my front flower bed (consisting of over 200 gladiola bulbs). The flower bed is surrounding my front deck. Also, I have many other plants and flowers throughout the yard? The grass, weeds and wire grass just about ate them all up this past year.

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There is too much demand on our watering supply to water daily, so I had a deep layer of mulch (that the bulbs wear planted/set into which would and did retain the moisture for the flowers).

I hired help to plant the bulbs in mulch that had been sitting for a two to four years BUT the grass, weeds etc. came up making the flower beds looking nasty/dirty and unkept.

I do not recall my grandparents having any trouble with their bulbs being over run by grass and weeds. Perhaps I was too young to notice them out daily weeding to notice why their flower beds always looked fantastic!

Please help with some sort of deterrent for me to use for this problem.

Laying a layer of water soaked newspaper and covering it with more mulch was suggested to stop the weeds/grass from growing. I haven't tried this yet, has anyone of you done this sort of thing or anything else to be a deterrent to weeds & grass growing in the flower beds?

Any help or suggestion will be greatly appreciated and used next spring in 2007 as I am sure that the over 200 gladiola bulbs will nearly double (or I am hoping they will).

Thanks and God bless you & yours.

Hardiness Zone: 7b

Paula

Answer:

Hi Paula,

Smothering weeds by using layers of newspapers, cardboard or a thick layer of mulch is certainly one suggestion I would recommend for keeping your plantings from becoming overrun by weeds. If you use organic mulch, like wood chips, leaves, pine needles or compost, you'll need to apply it at least 3 to 4 inches thick and select a type of material that will neutralize the pH of your soil. I would avoid using straw, because it often contains weed seeds, which will only make your job that much harder.

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Another strategy you might consider is to crowd out the weeds by planting a ground cover once your glad bulbs pop through. Not only will a ground cover help crowd out the weeds and prevent them from getting sun, but the right ground cover plants will also provide some interest until your gladiolus get into full swing. You might even consider trying a dwarf grass for this purpose.

There are also several lightweight tools available that are designed specifically to make gardening chores easier for the physically disabled. These include long-handled tools with clip-on, twist-on or snap-on heads that allow gardeners to work from a seated position. Many come with cushioned, adjustable handles that are ergonomically designed for a firm, stress-free grip. A long-handled cutter or shears would allow you to keep the weeds trimmed down around your bulbs for a tidier look.

Another option I would urge you to consider is to contact your county extension agency about the possibility of getting help from your county or state's Master Gardener program. These programs are often looking for volunteer gardening opportunities for their members to participate in. Other groups that may be able to offer you volunteer assistance are 4-H groups, Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troops, school groups or church groups.

Finally, here is a good link to information on gardening for the disabled.

http://livingwell.tripod.com/handigardning.html

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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October 9, 20060 found this helpful

You can use a weed pre-emergent such as Preen or any other on the market. I believe Scott's makes one and markets it under their Miracle Grow label. Basically it is a small granual that comes in a shaker can. you shake it around the areas you don't want weeds. It releases a gas that is heavier than air so it lays on the ground and prevents sunlight to get to the germinating weed seeds. It does eventually dissipate and needs to be reapplied 2-3 times per season. You could also use a landscape fabris which is a black woven fiber that allows water to pass through (unlike plastic) but creates a barrier for weeds. It can be difficult to put down around exisiting plants as it would need to be cut , but it is usually worth the effort. It significantly reduces weeds for a few years until the mulch or soil above it gets too deep and then another layer could be reapplied.

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October 10, 20060 found this helpful

A friend of mine is also partially disabled. I suggested to her to get a good long-handled hoe to keep the weeds at bay. She could reach a lot of them this way, since she couldn't bend down to pull them herself. She was so pleased, and it really helped.

She also has her husband add a lot of mulch and soil around her plants thoughout the year. It seems to choke the weeds off, but the perennials just love it.

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October 25, 20060 found this helpful

A friend of mine uses old carpet padding in hers.. its been yrs since she had to weed hers

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March 19, 20070 found this helpful

I put plastic bags around the edge of my flower bed and also put round-up. that should keep the weeds out for some time. I also pulled out the roots of grass that came into the bed. I put my flowers down and I will add mulch and be ready to go...

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March 26, 20070 found this helpful

someone told me to use roofing paper. I will try this and let you know how the out come is.

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May 23, 20070 found this helpful

Does anyone know if the newspaper or ground cover approach work on garlic mustard? It's a big invasive in my area. As I understand it, the garlic mustard spreads toxins through the roots to kill out the native plants. Thanks

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