Easy Weeding Without Chemicals

Did you know that gardeners and home owners spend millions of dollars each year trying to rid their gardens of weeds? We keep spraying them and they keep coming back. I don't know about you, but Minnesota summers are short, and I prefer not to squander what little summer I have by spending my time trying to combat weeds. Here are some easy ways to keep weeds to a minimum while enjoying summer to the maximum.


Smother Them

One word. Mulch. Smother weeds with 3 to 4 inches of it and you'll be amazed at how weed-free you'll be. Most people underestimate what 3 inches of mulch looks like so use a ruler as a guide. Use wood chips, straw, leaves, pine needles or compost, but depending on your soil, choose a mulch that will help neutralize the pH in your soil rather than swing it to the acidic or alkaline extreme. Tip: Apply a good layer of mulch this fall and you'll be half way to a weed-free spring next year.

Crowd Them

Reduce the amount of bare soil you have available and you'll reduce the amount of weeds in your garden. Plant your ground cover plants twice as close as suggested. They are not as apt to mind the close quarters as other plants and they will fill in fast and reduce any bare ground. Planting ground covers like rye, buckwheat or clover will also help crowd out weeds, while attracting beneficial insects and adding nutrients back into the soil.


Clip Them

Hand pulling weeds is still the best way to remove them, but clipping leaf growth down to the roots repeatedly will eventually deplete the weed's energy and cause it to give up. By not disturbing the soil, you don't have to worry about turning up any new seeds. Use a scissors, small shears or a hoe to quickly take off their tops.

Cook Them

There are three ways to cook a weed-each one increasing in temperature and efficiency. You can cover them with plastic and let the sun do it (solarize them), you can use your tea kettle and pour boiling water on them, or you can carefully singe them using a propane torch. If you decide to solarize them by covering them with plastic, make sure you wet the area down before covering it to help speed up the process.


Eat Them?

Yes, it's true. Many weeds are edible-at the very least, medicinal. If you can learn to live with them, maybe you'll grow to love them. Who knows, once you add them to your next salad or cook them up like collard greens, this year's weeds could be next year's desirables. (You may want to save a few seeds just in case you want to plant them on purpose next year!) Just make sure that before you start dishing up weeds with your next meal or using them to stock your medicine cabinet, you double-check the weed's I.D. with a plant expert and avoid any weeds that have been exposed to chemicals (no matter how Earth-friendly). Examples of edible or medicinal "weeds" include Chickweed, Chicory, Clover, Couch Grass, Dandelion, Dead Nettles, Feverfew, Great Mullein, Ground Ivy, Groundsel, Horsetail, Lamb's Quarters, Ox-Eye Daisy, Potentilla, Purslane, Soapwort, Stinging Nettle, Tansy, Toadflax, Wild Carrot, Wild Roses, Wood Sorrel and Yarrow.


Keep Them In The Dark

Weeds and desired plants have one thing in common. They need light to thrive. Take away their sunshine, and weeds soon die. To block out the light cover weeds with wet newspaper (6-12 sheets should do it), corrugated cardboard, carpet scraps or an old shower curtain. Don't be afraid to cover up your light-blocking materials with mulch for the purpose of appearance, just make sure you cut slits in them so you can slide them around the bases of your ornamental plants.

About The Author: 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

Anonymous Flag
August 17, 20060 found this helpful

I've been working on weeding our front yard for the last couple weeks. It's been hard work, but it's also been nice to spend some time in the yard. I'm using a hand dandelion weeder, getting the root sometimes, but sometimes really just cutting the weed down to the ground.

Our neighbor periodically sprays round-up on the dandelions in his lawn. It not only kills the dandelion, but all the grass in a circle about a foot wide. If it rains there can also be a trail of dead grass leading downslope from the area. Some of these run right into our yard!

I much prefer to do a little work and have a chemical-free, healthy lawn.

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August 17, 20060 found this helpful


If you just clip the dandelion to the ground the dandelion root will just keep getting larger and larger and next time it comes up with leaves they will be more mature and larger. Cutting to the ground on a dandelion and then putting a few drops of roundup with an eyedropper on the freshly cut root will work though.

Roundup on dandelions...I dribble a little stream down one or two leaves of the dandelion. That is enough to kill the dandelion and not touch the grass. It's too bad that your neighbor applies roundup in the way you described. Once the roundup hits the grass on your side of the lawn it is too late. We had a neighbor do this with the lawn running beside our driveway here in the country. He said he was just going to 'claim' back his field. But, once the roundup was down, it was too late. Grass is dead and we have now had to mow the weeds that have been growing in the area ever since.

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

I use a "Dandelion Terminator". It instantly removes all the leaves and flowers and the top of the root (bud crown). If the dandy is going to come back it takes about 2-3 weeks. When, or if, I see any sign of life from the same invader I simply take one second to zap it again. After a second assault they don't come back. Also they don't get to spread any seeds. Best part of all I don't have to resort to chemical warfare.

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