I have two sizeable areas in my yard that are full of weeds. I would
like to replace them with colorful and hardy plants. What is the best
way to "permanently" get rid of all the weeds? I heard that black
plastic or a herbicide would work. Do I then just plant flower bulbs
and seeds? I live in Western Washington. Thanks.
If the area receives good sun, one good way is 'solarization', which simply
means laying a clear or black plastic tarp over the area and letting the
sun cook everything for 6-8 weeks. I prefer clear plastic as it usually
promotes a big flush of dormant weed seeds to germinate and then get cooked
as well. With black plastic, the same effect occurs as the dormant seeds
are cooked because of the extra heat, but it seems to take longer.
Regardless, give it a few weeks and your soil will be ready to go.
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
depending on how established the weeds are, you could just cover the
area with carboard, and cover the cardboard with wood chips. Then you
plant your plants through the chips and cardboard. Be ready with a
little roundup with the weeds that escape. this arrangement will also
help the new plant get established, because it is a mulch. But they
have to be weeds that will get killed in 3 or 4 months, because that is
how long the cardboard will last.
Whether you use an herbicide, black plastic, or mechanically remove the
existing weeds, there is no "permanent" way to get rid of ALL weeds. When
you disturb the soil, you will expose existing weed seeds. The wind and
wildlife will bring more weed seeds to your garden. The choice of method
depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to bed preparation.
The plastic method is good but slow, and you still have to prep the soil.
Herbicides like Round-Up add chemicals to the environment and are expensive,
and you still have to prep the soil. Mechanical removal of sod and weeds is
quick and relatively inexpensive. It is environmentally friendly.
Unfortunately, mechanical removal can be very hard work.
When I make a new bed, I generally just mechanically remove any sod and
weeds. Then I rototill the soil and work is as much compost as I can
afford. I like to plant the area with annuals the first year and work some
more compost into the bed in the fall and then again in the spring. That
gives me some time evaluate what will grow well and to design the "bones" of
After the garden is established, you can deal with weeds by removing them,
or preventing them. Pre-emergent herbicide like Preen helps prevent weeds
as does a two or three inch layer of mulch. I find that planting very
densely also prevents most weeds.
To make the hard work of mechanical weed removal not quite so hard, you
can use one of the many long-handled weed pullers available now on the
web. A good list of ergonomic weed tools, including several popular
weed twisters, is posted at the World of Weeds at www.ergonica.com. I
have personally converted a large hillside area of natural weeds (wild
oats, barley foxtails, black mustard, dandelions, etc.), to a nice
nearly weed-free garden, using mechanical tools (especially the weed
twister with the double coils). Since pulling weeds is unavoidable in
every garden, it helps to have some efficient hardware around to get
out those perennial roots.
Talk about weeds: World of Weeds www.ergonica.com
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