WHAT’S YOUR METHOD FOR KILLING WEEDS WITHOUT CHEMICALS? That’s a question from reader Andrea, who wants to manage a big weedy patch on her property without relying on Roundup. Do you have any tips for organic weed control? I hope you’ll share them in the comments field below. In the meantime, have a look at the things I’ve used to reduce the weeding chores here at A Garden for the House:
Vinegar. This is an effective herbicide for weeds which grow in tight spaces, like the cracks between bricks. I pour it by the gallon into a big pump-sprayer, and apply it to the brick walkways in the Rose Garden, and also the gravel paths in the Herb Garden. A squirt of dish-washing liquid added to the vinegar increases its effectiveness. If you use vinegar in a pump-sprayer which has any metal parts, be sure to clean it with water after use. Vinegar has a corrosive effect on metal.
Vinca Minor. Who needs Roundup when you can have a bed of Vinca Minor, or “myrtle?” This evergreen groundcover has thoroughly smothered weeds on the central terrace of my Serpentine Garden. There it provides a graceful green foil for tulips and other bulbs. Enchanting too are the tiny blue flowers which appear on vinca’s trailing stems from April through May. It thrives equally well in sun or part shade (I have it in full sun).
Pachysandra. This one also thwarts weeds, although it is slower to establish than vinca. I have giant sweeps of pachysandra between the boxwood and yew borders in the Rose Garden, where it thrives in full, blazing sun (it grows faster in semi-shade) . It has brought great beauty to patches beneath trees here, too, where previously only weeds would grow.
Mulch. I apply a thick, 3-5 inch layer of partially decomposed wood chips as a weed-suppressing mulch in all of my perennial beds. The same product is used here for pathways in the Kitchen- and Woodland Gardens. I get wood chips for free, and so can you.
Newspaper. Want to turn a weed-filled patch into a low-maintenance garden? Then proceed this way: go to the dump and collect from the recycle bin all the cardboard or newspaper you can. Set the material directly atop the bed of weeds, and cover with a thick layer of partially decomposed wood chips. I did this very thing for a weed-infested strip on the north edge of the shady Woodland Garden. I planted pachysandra directly into the wood-chip mulch. The thickly-laid newspaper has kept weeds from popping up while the pachysandra establishes itself.
Gin & Tonic. This is my favorite system of weed control where hand-pulling — a job I absolutely hate — is the only option. Sipped from a tall I Love Lucy glass, the gin helps pass the time as I dig out weeds from the bed surrounding my fish pond. For this is the bed where I neglected to lay down newspaper and mulch before planting. Mea culpa.
Well, these are my tips for ridding the garden of weeds without the use of chemicals. What are yours?
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