How to Get Rid of Weeds in the Garden

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the extra light and warmth encourage the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. But this extra light and warmth also mean weeds will sprout up from seemingly nowhere.  Those weeds are stealing water and nutrients from your favorite plants, and many will spread until they overrun everything from the rhubarb to the roses.  We’ve got tips to help you banish them while protecting your flowers and veggies.

Start Early
You’ll have less work to do in the future if you attack the weeds as soon as they’re up. Young weeds have small roots, which makes them easier to pull and increases your chances of getting the entire plant.

Use a Weed Barrier
Landscape fabric is great for blocking sunlight, so weeds can’t grow. If you don’t want to purchase a ready-made barrier, try using strips of black plastic or even old carpet. Cover them with an attractive mulch, if you like. 

Apply Weed Killer 
Weed killers can be tricky to use, because if you get them on your desirable plants, they’ll kill them, too. But herbicide glyphosates are effective and work by spreading from a plant’s leaves to its roots. Available as liquids, solids or ready-to-use products, they eventually break down in the soil.

Dig and Hoe
This is the hard way to tackle weeds, especially when you’re working close to the roots of “good” plants. If you’re hoeing up weeds with shallow roots, be sure the blade is sharp and slice the roots just under the surface of the soil.  

Spot Killers
If you have a few weeds popping up through cracks in your patio or walkway, pour a little bleach on them and wait a couple of days to pull them up. A mixture of one cup of salt dissolved in 2 cups of hot water will also work.

Once you’ve got the weeds out of your garden, keep them from coming back with a 7-8 cm layer of mulch. Straw will work, as long as it doesn’t contain weed seeds. Pine straw, wood chips, and bark chips also suppress weeds by blocking sunlight, and they’ll break down slowly and amend your soil.