Unusual Weeding Methods: 7 Different Ways To Weed The Garden

By Mary H. Dyer | March 22, 2021
Image by DavidPrahl
by Mary H. Dyer
March 22, 2021

When it comes to weeding gardens, there are no magic solutions. The following ideas aren’t exactly unusual weeding methods, but new twists on old ideas that will make weeding gardens more useful and effective. Check out these chemical-free and environmentally friendly ways to weed the garden.

Weeding Gardens Effectively and Easily

  1. Hand-pulling weeds doesn’t need to be back-breaking work. Pull weeds after a rainfall, or water the area a day or two in advance. The job will be easier and more effective if you use a tool such as a dandelion weeder, soil knife, or hori hori knife, along with a kneeling pad to protect your knees. Never yank or pull, which usually just breaks the stem but doesn’t remove the roots.  
  2. Hoe regularly, scraping only the surface of the soil, beginning when weed seeds sprout in the spring. Don’t cultivate or dig, because you’ll just bring more seeds to the surface where they can germinate. A loop hoe or “scuffle” hoe simplifies the task of weeding gardens, but a diamond hoe is best for narrow situations, such as between rows.
  3. Make it a point to cut off seedheads or flowers. If you do this regularly, you’ll significantly reduce the seeds that drop to the soil. Hand pruners are fine for a few weeds, but a mower or weed whacker will simplify the job if your weeds are extensive. An old-fashioned scythe is an option, too. 
  4. Apply a 2 to 4 inch (5-10 cm.) layer of mulch in early spring before weed seeds germinate. Pull any existing weeds first; mulch will prevent seeds from sprouting, but it won’t have much impact on established weeds. You’ll probably need to replenish the mulch in mid- to late summer. Bark chips, dry grass clippings, and chopped leaves and straw will help keep weeds in check and are also healthy for the soil. 
  5. Don’t confuse straw and hay; straw is simply the stalks of wheat and certain other grains. Hay is the entire plant, usually alfalfa or various grasses, and will include plenty of seeds. Don’t assume that bales at garden centers will be correctly marked. Look closely for seeds in the bale. 
  6. If your weed problem is severe, lay a thick layer of wet newspapers over the area first then camouflage the paper with a healthy layer of mulch. To plant, just cut a hole or slit through the paper. 
  7. If your weed patch is large, a tarp may be a short-term fix. Cover the area with tarp and secure the edges with rocks or landscape pins. Leave the tarp in place for several months. It works by blocking sunlight, which starves the plants. Don’t depend on this technique if you have other options; it isn’t healthy for earthworms and other organisms in the soil.
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  • light harvest
    Comment added March 25, 2021Reply

    Good tips, except a tarp could suffocate nearby tree/shrub roots if your woody plant is already struggling. Remember that roots often extend far past its foliage spread (the "drip line"). Even if the tree has a tap root, that is primarily its anchor, and it often still relies on roots near the surface for water & other nutrients--and also for air in the soil. Sometimes this is a good temporary use for a tarp or black plastic that has a few holes--but is not disintegrating yet.

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