If you want to live a greener life and avoid exposing yourself, your family, your pets and the environment to chemicals, it’s important to find natural ways to do jobs around the house. This includes how you combat weeds, too.
Thankfully, there are numerous steps you can take to get rid of weeds in your yard naturally.
Keep Your Lawn Healthy
One of the most important things you can to do to rid your yard of weeds is to keep your lawn as healthy as possible. If you do this, the lawn will be better able to defend itself against weed infestations, so they won’t become such an issue.
There are many ways you can help give yourself a healthier lawn. For example, you’ll need to mow it regularly (though never more than a third of the length of the grass at once) and rake up leaves so they don’t get wet and turn into a mat that might suffocate the lawn.
Also, it’s a good idea to water and feed your lawn as it needs it, and do some aerating at least once or twice a year. If you struggle to find the time to care for your lawn, there are specialists you can hire to do the tasks for you.
Learn to Identify Common Weeds
It helps to know about the most common weeds that come into yards so you can identify them and deal with them effectively. Chickweed is one of the most common weeds, for instance, and it’s identifiable due to its shiny leaves that sit on multiple stems. When chickweed flowers, there’s a single white flower on each stem.
Crabgrass is a regular “visitor” to yards, too. It gets its name from its leaves, which spread out low across the ground in a crab-like tight circle, stemming from a central root. Purslane, on the other hand, has distinctive red-toned, thick and succulent stems, in addition to green fleshy leaves and star-shaped flowers in a yellow shade. It grows in a circular shape close to the ground, too, and moves outwards.
Limit Disturbances to the Soil
Another way to keep weeds at bay is to limit any disturbances to the soil in your garden. The less you turn and disturb the soil, the less likely it is that weeds will reseed, and you want dormant weed seeds to stay below the surface of the soil instead of getting out into the air and germinating.
If you do need to till the soil, at least do so when the soil is dry, and at a time of the year when perennial plants and trees in your area aren’t dropping lots of seeds.
Mulch will cover and smother weeds, and at the same time, it’ll help the ground hold onto moisture. Plus, as it breaks down over time, it’ll enhance your soil’s fertility.
There are many different types of mulch available these days, including mulch made of straw, grass clippings, bark or even biodegradable materials like newspapers and cardboard. Use a two- to four-inch layer of mulch around your garden to help stop weeds from coming through.
Plant Ground Covers
Similarly, planting ground covers will prevent weeds from getting out of control. Weeds typically thrive when they can outcompete other garden plants, so when you put in a ground cover that will quickly fill in the exposed soil, there’ll be less space for weeds to claim. Some ground covers to consider include woolly thyme, European chamomile, ruck rose, sweet woodruff and sedum.
Remove Weeds by Hand
If you do have weeds come up, rather than spraying chemicals on them, you can actually pull many of them out by hand. If you have a lot of chickweed in your lawn, you’ll find that it’s reasonably easy to pull out, as it has a fine root system and a weak structure. If you step on the stems to crush them, this will help you kill off the weed even further.
Purslane, on the other hand, needs to be pulled out when it’s young and hasn’t had the chance to take root in the soil. When you remove it, ensure that you get the entire weed, and always gather up the stem fragments and put them in your garbage bin (not your compost heap). You don’t want the weed to keep throwing out seeds from your compost into your garden, which is possible.
Image credit: Gustavo Fring