Modern homeowners frequently find that keeping weeds at bay in their lawn and garden area is a constant battle. Part of the problem is that many people don't notice weeds until they are well-established, and by that time, they are difficult to get rid of because they've established strong root systems that usually include underground runner that make simply digging them up an exercise in futility. The best strategy for keeping weed populations at a minimum is to keep them from sprouting in the first place. Following are five ways of dealing with weeds that every homeowner should know about.
Avoid Disturbing the Soil
Weed seeds can exist in the soil for years in a state of dormancy, but once they are exposed to sunlight, they quickly sprout and take root. Disturbing the soil brings them to the surface, so limit the use of high-powered tillers and cultivation practices that may disturb dormant weed seeds. You can avoid deeply cultivating the soil by creating raised beds or even simply adding a few inches of compost or bagged potting soil on top of your garden beds before you sow flower and vegetable seeds or transplant nursery starts.
Smother the Weed Sprouts
Planting large vegetable or flower gardens sometimes requires disturbing the soil during the initial preparatory phase because creating raised beds for these situations is not always practical. However, weed seeds will begin to sprout almost immediately after you till the designated area, so don't count on sowing your garden immediately after preparing the site. Tilling the area several weeks in advance and then covering it with black plastic will warm the soil enough to allow weed seeds on the surface to sprout. However, the black plastic will also deprive the sprouts of sunlight, causing them to die shortly after sprouting. Repeating this process twice ensures minimal weed growth after your garden is planted. An added benefit to this strategy is that it will warm the soil enough to provide heat-loving crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and other members of the melon family with the heat they need for good growth.
Solarize the Weeds
If you have reason to believe that the soil of your intended garden space not only contains multitudes of weed seeds but also significant viral and fungal pathogens, consider solarizing the area in order to provide the best possible growing environment for your future garden. You'll have to begin the process a year before, however. It's a simple process that involves placing transparent sheets of plastic over tilled soil and then letting nature take its course. Soil temperatures average 20 percent higher when covered with clear plastic, which is enough to eliminate many weeds seeds, seedlings, and soil-borne pests and pathogens while creating an environment in which beneficial microbes thrive.
Use Pre-emergent Herbicides
Pre-emergent herbicides can be a good tool in the homeowner's fight against weeds, provided they are used properly. However, many people are reluctant to use chemical controls on their property because of environmental concerns. Proper use of chemical controls limits the amount that leaches into area groundwater, which is why using the services of a professional weed control company is recommended if the situation calls for chemicals. So ask your local landscaping company for assistance if you believe your weed problem is serious enough to warrant this type of action.
Effective weed control is not a one or two time fix -- it's an ongoing part of yard and garden management that involves several types of controls for various situations. Staying on top of things by making regular weed inspections a part of your garden routine will help keep weed populations minimal.
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