Spring is on the way, and if there’s one thing that rural Ohioans have in spades, it’s weeds. Even if you have a perfectly manicured landscape, weed seeds blow in from nearby fields and forests, which makes it impossible to keep your lawn and garden 100% weed free. If you’re sick of battling weeds but you’d rather not use chemical herbicides, here are five things you can do to make the job easier.
1. Boiling Water
If you’re looking for a quick, easy and 100% natural way to get rid of those pesky weeds that sprout up in sidewalk and driveway cracks, boiling water will work. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, take it outside and pour it over the weeds. Sturdy plants like dandelions might take a whole kettle depending on how large and deeply rooted they are, but the heat will burn the plants. Come back in a day or two to remove the wilted, browning foliage.
2. Go No-Till
In established vegetable gardens, it’s tempting to go out every spring and work the soil until it’s nice and soft. However, this is actually one of the fastest ways to fill your vegetable plot with weeds. When you till the soil, you’re effectively planting all the weed seeds that would have otherwise remained on the surface of the soil, never to germinate.
3. No Bare Earth
Whether it’s a perennial bed or vegetable garden, one of the best—and most productive—ways to keep weeds out is to pack your plantings tightly. In perennial beds, use aggressive ground covers like creeping phlox. For annual flower gardens, “Wave” petunias or portulacas offer a pretty way to choke out weeds. There are several options for the vegetable garden. Plant squash or melons around tall plants like corn or sunflowers. Among the shorter veggies, you can use thyme, oregano or other low-growing herbs.
4. Newspaper and Cardboard
If you have a stack of newspapers or a local grocery store that will give you cardboard boxes, these make excellent weed barriers. However, there are some concerns about toxins and inorganic compounds, so here are a few tips to help you make sure that your paper weed barriers are garden-safe:
Once you’ve spread the newspaper or cardboard over your garden, use mulch, straw or grass clippings as a way to hold the paper down while making the garden look more attractive.
5. Mulch with Tree Leaves
Tree leaves are cheaper than mulch, they work as well as straw, and they’ll help improve the soil in your garden. There are two ways to go about mulching your beds with tree leaves: Use whole leaves and water well so that they won’t blow away, or shred the leaves with your lawn mower before putting them in your garden.
The interesting thing about tree leaves is that if you use certain types, you can alter the acidity of your soil. Use maple leaves to make soil less acidic and oak leaves to acidify your soil.
Use these methods, and you’ll soon see a drastic reduction in weeds around the house and in the garden. If you know of even more organic ways to beat the weeds, share them in the comments section!