General Question

optimisticpessimist's avatar

How do I keep weeds from reccurring?

Asked by optimisticpessimist (3884 points ) April 22nd, 2011

My daughter and I just finished weeding a long neglected flower bed. It has multiple azaleas and we just planted some new ones in the gaps. There are no other plants in the bed nor do I plan on putting any other ones in this particular bed.

That was the background. I do want to put a boarder and mulch around the bed to make it look well-kept (you can tell at one time it was well maintained.) I do not want to use weed killer if possible because of the azaleas.

I read you can put 7–9 layers of newspaper down and then put the mulch on top to help prohibit weed growth without changing the natural soil processes. Has anyone done this? Do you know of any other method that works well? One of the reasons I liked the newspaper idea was because I have plenty of it to use without additional expense.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

Cardboard is suppose to work, too. Just make sure cardboard, or any paper product used for compost for that matter, doesn’t have glossy finishes. That usually means metallic inks that are poisonous.

What kinds of weeds?

You might have luck planting companion plants for the azaleas. Often these companions will fill in the niche the azaleas don’t without competing with it (and usually actually making it grow better).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I think you can paint on weed killer, and you can use vinegar for a natural spin. That way, it only kills the one plant you don’t want.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I have no idea what kind of weeds. Everything from young trees (only 12–15 inches tall) to moss, to clover and some other kinds of ground covering weed. Oh, and one humongous weed that stood over 8 feet tall and the root was at least 6 inches in diameter. You could tell the bed once had mulch and was cared for.

What kind of companion plants? I am really new to the whole gardening thing as we have usually rented and only had small flower beds.

Bellatrix's avatar

You will have to be very carefuldn’t use those plastic weed mats) but it won’t entirely get rid of the weeks. They are persistent lil blighters. You will have to keep pulling them out and some you may need to poison some if they are the type that seem to spread under the ground and keep coming up everywhere (no idea of the technical term). Oh, I just remembered I tried boiling water to kill some persistent weeds. They died, but so did the azaleas that weren’t far away from them. Oh well…

If you live in a drought affected area, perhaps use some of those water crystals when you plant the plants too. Persistence is the key to weed eradication. Oh and can you pop round and do my front yard while you are at it? Persistence isn’t my middle name when it comes to gardening.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I thought I had read that in a response to a question you had written? I was thinking for the more persistent that may be a good idea.

@Mz_Lizzy I did not know if it worked at all so it is good to have some conformation the newspaper will be worth the effort. I do not need to worry about drought. After I finish all my gardening, I will consider it. But that may take a year or two:)

@incendiary_dan Thank you for the links as well as the information about metallic inks.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@optimisticpessimist Yeah, I got that from MrShinyShoes. It’s a good idea.

Bellatrix's avatar

That’s weird. The edited version of my response is missing part of the first sentence. I said…you will have to careful using weed killer, but the newspaper idea will help and not to use the plastic weedmat.

I should add, mulching will help too but if you are going to do that, wet the soil before you put it down. Soil can become water resistant. We have just been through years of drought so I am a bit paranoid about making sure we conserve water and try to keep moisture that is there, in.

Good luck with the garden bed.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy We can’t seem to give away the rain. Thank you.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Also, I asked about the type of weeds because many are edible and highly nutritious. Check out the channel EatTheWeeds on Youtube.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@incendiary_dan I will have to check that out. I could throw them in a salad and my family would never know. After I finish the front of the house, I will be starting a vegetable garden in the back. I have a feeling I won’t be getting to that this year.

Bellatrix's avatar

Good luck with the veggie patch. Cucumbers and rocket and one aubergine is all we have managed out of two really big beds. We do have incredibly healthy, fat possums though.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy I do have a feeling I will be fighting off the deer and other wildlife.

Bellatrix's avatar

They will win. The possums always do. After they ate all the tomatoes off 12 (TWELVE I TELL YA!!) plants that I was soooooooo waiting and wanting to eat and pickle, I was so angry. At first I thought it was the neighbours but now I know they only steal my mulberries and the pumpkins off their plants that end up growing into my garden (hmmph!). I was going to go over and go off at them… and then I stopped and thought about it. It seemed ludicrous but where else could all those veggies be going… possums and mice etc. that’s where. We are now buying netting and we will build a structure over said veggie gardens. I sort of feel like I need @incendiary_dan and his zombie killing army. It is a war!

incendiary_dan's avatar

I was gonna say I’d let people borrow the 12 gauge, but garlic oil sprayed on plants also works well to keep deer away.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

My husband offered to buy me a green house. I don’t really want to spend the money. We have a fenced in part of the back yard and I thought I might use part of that to at least keep the deer out. @incendiary_dan Your answer popped up while I was typing. That is good to know.

Bellatrix's avatar

@incendiary_dan I suspect my possums would just knock on the fricken door and ask me for some bread to make Bruschetta.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy Just tell ‘em they have to give you some too.

Bellatrix's avatar

lol I’ll try that. They don’t share well. I seriously have not had one tomato in three years of trying. They grow. They are there on the vine and beautiful… and then…they are gone.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy I have some possum recipes somewhere. ;)

Bellatrix's avatar

Aww, city chic! I’m the one who couldn’t survive in the wild remember? That’s why the possums are kicking my arse in this veggie patch war. I couldn’t eat them. They are huge some of them too and so bold. We used to have two very old cats and had to start feeding them inside because the possums ate their dinner every day. Saw a few and it was like “mutant” possums. I tell you, they are very well fed. I just hope there is never a disaster and we have to rely on our own veggie growing skills.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Well, then you just make friends with a friendly hunter/trapper. I’m actually thinking of doing a bit professionally just to have the occasional chance to get a dinner out of it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Well I have an acre and a quarter you can hunt in if you like :-D Not much but plenty of rogue possums. Bit of a way to come for a hunting job but there are lots of other interesting things to do here too.

Sorry @optimisticpessimist didn’t mean to hijack your thread with my possum war.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Mz_Lizzy Not a problem, I should have put it in social. Didn’t because I thought the other type of weed may become the topic. Probably shouldn’t have mentioned that.

JLeslie's avatar

Someone might have said this already, I am too lazy to read everything through.

Buy a role of the weed control matting/fabric. It goes above the soil and under the mulch. It works pretty well.

gailcalled's avatar

Has no one mentioned an attractive ground cover? For example, under azaleas, which like acid soil, myrtle will cover things quickly. It has a very pretty indigo flower in the spring and will occasionally reflower in the fall.

There is also

Ajuga
Sweet woodruff
Lilies-of-the-valley
Squill
Lemon Balm
Lamium
Creeping Jenny

Some of these like shade, some sun.
Some damp shade, some dry soil
Some flower, some smell good.
All proliferate. I planted one seed for lemon balm…I now have what seems like acres of the stuff.
And all of these can be divided, rooted, given away, stomped on, mowed and ignored. So much nicer than sprays, plastic, matting fabric and poisons.

The only way to protect azaleas from deer is fencing during their bloom period.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s
an example of how successful (almost too successful) groundcover looks.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gailcalled That’s a beautiful garden. I want that as my desktop wallpaper.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@gailcalled That’s beautiful. That is the kind of thing I want to do in the back. (We have over an acre.) However, the front has more of a manicured look (okay, so not so manicured right now) which suits the house. In the back we have trees and old concrete stairs. I really can’t afford to re-landscape the front of the house. I am trying to tidy and spruce it up a bit.

@JLeslie I had considered that as well. But if the newspaper will work. I would rather not incur the extra expense. We have a lot of work to do here.

JLeslie's avatar

The newspaper will eventually breakdown I would think. Might also attract bugs or animals, although maybe it is not different than mulch? Also, if you tend to get mice and moles you will need pins to hold it down, meaning the matting, and in turn I would guess the newspaper? The newspaper will tear easier and be chewed through by mice if they live around your property. I am just thinking off of the top of my head, I don’t know any of this for sure.

YARNLADY's avatar

Not possible.

syz's avatar

You can’t eliminate weeds. but you can reduce them. What I was taught was to 1) treat the area with a pre-emergent weed killer, water as directed, then 2) apply 4–5 inches of mulch. Some folks choose to add another step, and place a weed barrier down between steps one and two.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@syz Wouldn’t the weed killer kill the azaleas as well?

syz's avatar

Nope. Most products are specific to broad leaf weeds and grass type weeds.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Filling the niche that weeds fill is far more effective than weed killers. Eating the ones that get through anyway is a much more economical and healthy approach, but is impossible if you apply poison.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther