No matter the season, weeds are working hard to rob your plants of water, nutrients, and, ultimately, their health. Weeds can spread almost like wildfire, choking your desirable plants and depleting the soil of nutrients. Taking a hands-on approach is the only effective way to stop weeds.
Don't wait for the weeds to get a deep hold. Start early! Here are 5 ways you can control the weeds that are plaguing your flower bed.
1. Keep your grass and garden healthy with proper lawn care
Always keep in mind that healthy lawns are better able to out-compete weeds before they take over. To best avoid weeds, keep your yard strong with good lawn maintenance habits and (even better) with a professional service.
Keep good mowing and watering habits.
Keeping healthy lawn maintenance habits strengthens your yard and improves its resistance to weeds. Knowing the correct mowing length for your grass can be tricky as it changes throughout the year. Read our guide to proper mowing habits for DFW to keep your lawn in line. How much you water your yard will need to be adjusted through the seasons as well, so check out our guide to watering in DFW.
To thoroughly keep weeds out, try to be more aware of your actions in your yard. For example, avoid grass clippings landing in your flower beds. Clippings contain seed heads, and those seeds can end up germinating in your flower bed. Also, keep an eye on the edges of your lawn and flower beds. Avoid weeds sneaking in by keeping edges neat and trimmed.
Hire a professional lawn care service.
There’s no better way to maintain a healthy lawn than to let the experts take over. Maintaining a healthy, attractive, and weed-free yard year-round is always achievable with professional help. A lawn care service can identify and fix any issues that trouble your lawn – and that absolutely includes keeping weeds away for good!
2. Pulling and removing weeds by hand
Hand pulling weeds can be a lot of tedious work, and if you don't remove the weed correctly, you'll be back to the same spot in a few days to pull again and again. Before too long, you'll want to pull your hair out! While hand pulling may not be the most efficient way to keep weeds away, it can absolutely be helpful when you do it right.
Be sure to remove every bit of the weed.
When weeds are pulled, any root, stem, or pieces left behind in the soil can resprout into another weed. To put it basically, you have to get the entire root or the weed will grow back. This is especially true of weeds with deep or big root systems.
The top root of some weeds can grow out 12 inches, so clearing it all can be challenging. Hand pulling works best on new, young weeds because they have small root systems. This makes them easier to pull, and you have a better chance of getting the entire weed and avoiding regrowth.
If the weeds have had time to grow deep into the soil, consider using a tool to extract the weed. You can try anything from a hand weeder, trowel, weeding fork, garden knife, or hoe. However, try not to overly disturb the soil.
Weed seeds buried in the ground may start to germinate if exposed to sunlight, so try not to loosen the dirt too much when pulling weeds by hand or using tools. Hand weeder tools can be great for precisely extracting a weed with an established root system while not creating large craters in your garden.
Water your target area before weeding.
A great tip to help make weeding easier is to water your flower beds the night before you plan to weed. Or even plan your weeding for the day after a rainfall. Weeds are much easier to pull if the soil is damp. This means less work for you, and it also increases the odds of removing the entire plant and root.
3. Starve the weeds of sunlight
Creating a barrier between your soil and sunlight is a great way to prevent weed growth. Blocking sunlight inhibits weed growth. A seed can't germinate without sun, so applying a barrier means less weed maintenance for you.
Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!
Mulch is the answer to many garden groans, and it also happens to be the best method to prevent weeds. Mulch looks great, blocks sunlight, and helps to retain moisture. Basically, mulch helps to keep water in and weeds out.
Before applying mulch, you should remove any visible weeds in the area. Apply a 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch to flower beds or any place afflicted by weeds. No less than 2 inches because it won’t stop the sunlight reaching the soil. And no thicker than 3 inches because it prevents water from adequately seeping into the ground. Be sure to water the area thoroughly after mulching.
Plant ground cover.
Another great (and attractive) option to block sunlight from weeds is to add plants that will grow thick along the ground. Any ivy-like plant that will grow thick and lush can stop sunlight from reaching the soil…effectively kicking weeds to the curb.
First, you’ll need to remove all weeds from the target area. Next, you should carefully select your ground growing plant based on your landscaping taste and your location. Remember, this method won't be successful unless the plant effectively covers the soil, so choose a plant known to grow well in your area.
In DFW, we recommend purple wintercreeper euonymus. This ground plant is winter hardy, and it thrives equally well in sun or shade. You can expect it to turn maroon in winter and stay a lovely deep green all summer. Other good options for DFW are asian jasmine, english ivy, or lamium (dead nettle).
You could also try filling your garden bed with a crowded mass planting of any desirable plants. The idea is that as long as the plants are blocking off the sunlight, weeds can’t grow.
Add a physical barrier.
Buying landscape fabric or creating your own is another option to block sunlight from reaching the soil. If you're interested in trying this method, you can pick up landscape fabric from most garden stores or online. We recommend trying newspaper as an environmentally friendly alternative (reduce, reuse, recycle!).
Either way, you should begin by removing all the weeds from the area. Once the area is clear of weeds, apply your barrier by laying it on the soil while moving around your desirable plants. If you're using newspaper, lay down 5-7 layers to create a barrier that's thick enough to block the sun but not too thick to stop water getting through. Next up, wet the newspaper or landscape fabric.
Now you're welcome to stop at this point because weed seeds are officially choked off from the sun. However, having a newspaper-covered garden is most likely not your style. Since newspaper or fabric won’t look nice, add a layer of mulch on top. After adding mulch, water again thoroughly. Your garden will look great, and you'll be sure that no weeds will be sneaking through that mulch.
4. Use herbicides
Proven time and time again to successfully “weed out” any garden, herbicides are the best choice for weed removal. We recommend hiring a professional lawn care service to handle the herbicides for you, but if you choose to try it yourself…always follow the directions and store the product responsibly!
If you’re troubled by an already established group of weeds, you’ll need to acquire a post-emergent herbicide. Try your best (or hire a professional) to identify the type of weed you're battling.
Read our blog on common weeds in the DFW area for more information.
Purchase an appropriate product based on the weed type and the season you're in.
Herbicides are available as liquid or granules. Use whatever you're most comfortable with. Always follow the directions on the product you purchase. It's generally as simple as spraying or applying the product directly onto the surface of the weeds. These herbicides work by spreading from the plants’ leaves down to the roots.
It is important to note that these products can also kill your desirable plants. Be very careful to spray precisely or try covering desirable plants while spraying weeds.
Similar to the previously mentioned sunlight barriers, pre-emergent products create a barrier on the soil's surface to inhibit weed germination. This method is used in areas where you have a weed problem, but before the weeds have sprouted.
To use a pre-emergent herbicide, clear the area of established weeds then spread the product on the site. This will prevent weeds from growing.
5. Professional bed weed control service with Gecko Green
Gecko Green offers bed weed control service in North Texas for total control against unwanted weeds and grasses year-round. Our knowledgeable technicians have extensive knowledge of the Texas climate, local plants, and risks to control and prevent unwanted weeds in your landscape.
We have structured our bed weed control service to ensure that you have protection in every month of the year. Our experienced specialists follow a plan tailored to the Texas climate, including early-season weed prevention, spring weed control and prevention, summer weed control, and fall weed preparation. We work hard to monitor for weeds and keep your flower beds safe so that you don't have to.