Why Is Weeding Important?
Weeding is important because it eliminates competition for resources to your growing plants. Removing weeds frees up space for your other plants to grow, and loosens the soil so that more water, sunlight, and wind can reach their healthy roots.
Wind can help reduce humidity and soil moisture—overly moist or poorly draining soil can sometimes become a breeding ground for pests and diseases. Aside from the plant health benefits, weeding your garden improves its appearance. If you’re growing crops in a carefully cultivated garden bed, these wild, unwanted plants can make it look messy and unkempt.
How to Weed Your Garden
To maintain a healthy and flourishing garden, try some of the weeding methods below:
- Mulch your soil. The best way to get rid of weeds is to prevent them from growing in the first place. Planting crops closer together, using cover crops, and mulching are all effective ways to keep your garden weed-free. Mulch is a layer of material you place on top of the soil in your garden. Organic mulches, like wood chips, bark mulch, grass clippings, pine needles, leaves, peat moss, and sawdust, are the most common types of mulch used in gardening. Inorganic mulches include plastic mulch, synthetic rubber mulch, gravel, and pebbles. In addition to helping control your soil temperature and structure, you can use mulch to smother weeds and make it difficult for the seeds to start germinating. Certain organic mulch may introduce beneficial soil creatures who feed on weed seeds.
- Use drip irrigation. A drip irrigation system can supply water directly into the soil for a specific crop, rather than watering the surrounding areas where weeds may grow. While it is a more expensive method, drip irrigation is effective for weed control, and can also help gardeners save water over time (as well as spend less time on weed maintenance).
- Pull weeds when wet. Moist weeds are easier to rip from the soil, so wait until after it rains, after you water, or after the morning dew has set to start weeding. You can also weed when the soil is dry, but you’ll have to put in extra work to loosen the soil.
- Use the right tools. Gardening tools come in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them will work for every plant. A short-handled tool like a farmer’s knife or trowel can help you get close to the ground and pull up dandelions with ease, while long-handled weeders can be easier on the knees, and cover more ground (which is better if you have an abundance of weed growth). Keep your tools clean and free from contaminants.
- Remove the whole weed. After you loosen the soil around the weeds, you’ll need to grab as much of the weed’s root system as possible or else it will grow back. Using either your hands or tools, make sure you pull up any long, deep taproots it may have. Pull weeds straight up, rather than at an angle, to avoid disturbing too much topsoil.
- Lop off the heads. Some weeds may be in a tricky location, or you may risk damaging a nearby healthy plant if you rip them from the soil. Deadheading perennial weeds keeps them from going to seed and replanting themselves, resulting in fewer weeds and maintenance care.
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