7 No-Fail Ways To Win The War on Weeds!

7 No-Fail Ways To Win The War on Weeds!image preview

Year after year, we fight the same fight. No sooner than we pull all the weeds, new ones sprout right behind them. If you’re tired of the frustrating battle against the weeds popping up in your gardens, here are a few all-natural strategies to keep your gardens weed-free all year long.

7 No-Fail Ways To Win The War on Weeds

1. Corn Gluten Meal

This is one time you may not want to go gluten free! Many university studies show corn gluten meal to be an effective pre-emergent herbicide (a pre-emergent prevents seed germination). It is an all-natural alternative to synthetic pre-emergents and it has no known ill effects for human health or the environment. Since corn gluten stops seeds from sprouting, make sure that you don’t use it in any spot where you’d like to plant seeds within the next year or two.

Where to buy: available at any garden center or online.

2. Plastic and Fabric Weed Barriers

Weed barriers are a no-fuss way to keep weeds out of the garden for years to come. You can use weed barriers in vegetable gardens, but because you might change your plantings around from year to year, this means that you may have to replace the weed barrier yearly.

Where weed barrier really stands out is in permanent perennial beds. Lay the sheeting down, making sure to cut holes wherever you plan to place landscape perennials and then cover the fabric with mulch, grass clippings, fall leaves or something else to hide the plastic or fabric sheets.

Where to buy: At any home improvement store, garden center, or hardware store.

3. Newspaper and Cardboard

Many gardeners would rather keep plastics out of their gardens. If this sounds like you, then try recycling newspapers and cardboard as weed barrier instead. The advantage to these two materials is that they’re readily compostable, which means that you can easily till them into your vegetable gardens and reapply each year.

If you decide to use newspaper, make sure to avoid toxins by using non-glossy pages and black and white ink. Today, the vast majority of newspapers use organic soy-based black ink, which is safe for your gardens.

4. Mulch

Tree bark mulch wood chips are old standbys for weed management, and they can be used on their own or as a covering for your weed barrier of choice. However, store-bought bark and wood mulch isn’t your only option. Grass clippings and straw can be used as mulch, so long as it is relatively free of weed seeds. You can also use whole or shredded tree leaves as mulch.

A couple of particularly stubborn weeds may still grow through your mulch of choice, but far fewer than will grow on bare soil. In addition, no matter which type of mulch you use, you’ll be adding nutrients to your garden beds and you’ll increase the soil’s ability to retain water.

5. Go No Till

When you till the soil, you’re essentially planting weed seeds that were once laying on the surface of the bed. In addition, you’re exposing any previously buried weed seeds to that ray of sunlight they need to sprout. As such, no-till gardening is a great way to reduce weeds in your garden — and save you the countless hours you spend tilling each spring!

No-till gardening works especially well when you allow a layer of organic material to cover the surface of your beds. This layer can be mulch or it can be last year’s foliage. Either way, if you adopt this gardening method, you’ll wind up with fewer and fewer weeds each year.

6. Pack Plantings Tightly

One of the best ways to keep weeds out of your gardens is to not give them any room to grow. We all love to see some space between our plantings, but if you can pack your plants instead — or use groundcovers to choke weeds — then you’ll never need to worry about weeding again. As a general rule, this tactic works best in landscape plantings since many vegetable plants need quite a bit of space to mature.

7. Off with Their Heads!

It happens to the best of us — life gets in the way and before you know it, weeds have grown up and long since bolted. As the old saying goes, “One year’s seeds, seven year’s weeds.” Therefore, before you start ripping them out of the garden, however, gently clip off the seed heads so that you don’t scatter the seeds in your garden as you pull the weeds.

There are many weed-busting strategies, but these are some of the most effective. Give them a try, and you’ll find yourself spending a lot less time weeding and a lot more time enjoying your gardens.

Do you have an all-natural weed strategy you want to share? Tell us in the comments below!

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental and green living topics. Her article on woolly worm caterpillar folklore appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Terryl Montgomery
Terryl Montgomery
2 months ago

I generally use vinegar for weed control, cardboard or newspaper covered with mulch renewed each year. Dish soap can be added to make it “stick” to leaves a little better. I also utilize shredded paper when I have it. It breaks down easily.
My biggest problem in my back yard has been Bermuda grass. I have been fighting it for a while. I have shrub, small trees and perennial beds in the backyard with zoysia grass in several areas. I have one area of Bermuda that I have sprayed several times and recovered with cardboard and plastic each time. This has been the most successful, but it is tedious and I doubt that the Bermuda is eradicated. I believe getting rid of it will always be an ongoing battle.
Anyone have a magic bullet to destroy Bermuda?

Sherry Wynne
Sherry Wynne
6 months ago

How do you kill old English ivy naturally

D Erdmann
D Erdmann
3 months ago
Reply to  Sherry Wynne

Vinegar will usually kill just about any plant and it’s usually harmless to most animals. It will kill most plants if you spray it on the leaves. Tear out what you can and keep spraying the sprouts. If you have to cover it with plastic to keep the vinegar from dissipating too fast, put some weight on it as well. If you have to resort to concentrated vinegar or more drastic means, replacing your soil or adding clay, baking soda, and cornmeal gluten can change the PH enough to discourage growth. Don’t add baking soda while the vinegar is active. Maybe wait until next year to see if you’ve got it under control.

* If you add cornmeal gluten, don’t plan on growing any seed there for a couple of years.

Sherry Wynne
Sherry Wynne
3 months ago
Reply to  D Erdmann

Thanks I have a lot of ivy and heavenly Chinese tree starts to kill. They’re very prolific they grow from roots and seeds.

Catherine Herring
Catherine Herring
7 months ago

Thanks for the info really appreciate it❤️

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
7 months ago

Glad you found the information useful, Catherine. Thanks for taking the time to write.

WINgård
WINgård
8 months ago

Clipping invasive Alyssum is a chore for us on acreage, any benefit to continuous weed removal by hand for Alyssum? Or beneficial removal alternatives? In spring it is ‘fun’ to see them come alive like the dandelions but soon won’t have the time.

pdxjulz
pdxjulz
8 months ago
Reply to  WINgård

Urban Gardens love Alyssum. Why not use Craigslist to invite folks out to get free seed and transplants? Have them bring their own shovel and container, extra plants or preserves for trade. Daisies in a pasture that may give livestock a tummy ache may be a delight in the city, so point to any you want them to dig if they like em!

BMatthews
BMatthews
6 months ago
Reply to  WINgård

Goat Rental is a craze in Western TN. We have lots of privet, kudzu, honey suckle that is growing in farmlands.
“Goats for Hire” has helped several around here to rid.

Lisa
Lisa
10 months ago

I use cardboard with no writing on it. It’s not as pretty as mulch, but I can cut through it to add more plants. This year, I’m laying out what’s left from last year- patchwork style. It makes me feel good to know I’m protecting my worms from the sun.

kati
kati
11 months ago

how do i get rid of wild onions

Lynn Paris
Lynn Paris
1 year ago

How can I eliminated the broom hedge and blackberry briars from our pasture?

Stewdo
Stewdo
9 months ago
Reply to  Lynn Paris

Lynn, broom sedge is a dead giveaway you need lime on your fields. Heavy agricultural liming will usually take care of it. As for the Blackberry briars,other than a grass safe herbicide, a couple of yearly mowings before they bloom will usually take care of them in a couple of years.
A lot of people are misidentifying broom sedge with blue stem which is a native grass that is making a comeback in places.

WINgård
WINgård
8 months ago
Reply to  Stewdo

Appreciate the distinction with blue stem, have on the hay fields and knowing it’s ~ok for the cows to eat, less work for us!

pdxjulz
pdxjulz
8 months ago
Reply to  Stewdo

Goats. Possibly pig foraging also. Root removal is a constant chore otherwise, for blackberries.

Garden Whisperer
Garden Whisperer
1 year ago

Good Day,

Best method for weed [crabgrass, nut grass, Johnson grass, Rye grass, Texas blueweed, thistle, dandelion (although has medicinal purposes), etc.] erradication is to pull your problematic weeds and cover the area cleared, otherwise weeds will assuredly reappear. Note: there are beneficial weeds and even “weed teas” https://www.farmersalmanac.com/8-homemade-garden-fertilizers-24258 although I wouldn’t use a weed sprayed with a chemical.

It’s unfortunate that chemical sprays can make areas unusable (3+ years) until the ground has been saturated enough with rainfall in an effort to deplete chemicals.

I’ve purchased fruits or vegetables (cooked or not) where I’m able to taste the chemicals the produce was sprayed with. (ie. pineapple, carrots, lettuce, watermelon, cantelope, honeydew to name a few).

There are a good number of products available to aid consumers in the erradication of weeds; or perhaps hire a youth group attempting to fund their summer trip.

Have an Excellent & Blessed Day!!
Matthew 19:26

Joan
Joan
1 year ago

I use RM43, it’s expensive, and be careful to read the directions, it can be diluted down to use against weeds, I do this when most of my garden is dormant. Choose a time when rain is not eminent, in very late fall in Arkansas. This stuff will kill fence rows for a year, thus the need to dilute for smaller spaces.but if applied correctly, weeds will not appear in spring, nor will they come back for a year, I do this yearly, and the use of some cardboard. DO NOT APPLY WITHIN 2 feet of your flowers and for Christ sake use sparingly. This works fantastic for me, have not lost a plant so far, and no grassing in spring, woo hoo!

Ema
Ema
7 months ago
Reply to  Joan

Monsanto product is evil…can’t believe people are still using those products….should be against the law….. mother’s nature’s law.

Sue Werner
Sue Werner
4 years ago

I spray with white vinegar. It even kills english ivy.

KRISTINE ALLAS
KRISTINE ALLAS
11 months ago
Reply to  Sue Werner

can I ask if you use in full force or dilute with water???? thanks

Lonesome Mesa
Lonesome Mesa
10 months ago
Reply to  KRISTINE ALLAS

Belle chemical sells 75% vinegar. What you buy in the store is 5%. They have a recipe on the website for dilution to kill weeds.

Maggie
Maggie
4 years ago

How to kill and get rid of nut grass in a garden area

Doris Pace
Doris Pace
5 months ago
Reply to  Maggie

I want to know also dollar weedIts killing this old wa an

Ellen
Ellen
3 months ago
Reply to  Doris Pace

Still want to know best way to kill dollar weeds with out hurting plants

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
3 months ago
Reply to  Ellen

Hi Ellen, we found this information you might find helpful.

gerald davis
gerald davis
4 years ago

how do kill crabgrass