Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.By Marilynn O’Brien
“They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I’ve concluded weeds must have brains.” – Dianne Benson, Dirt.
Sometimes, gardeners can’t control everything (although we hate to admit it). Weeds are a thorn in every gardener’s side. Some do offer side benefits, such as the edible leaves of young dandelions or the nutritious roots of burdock; however, many become an ongoing struggle if you do not spot them early. Right now, as temperatures continue to creep toward 90 degrees, the weeds are growing like, you guessed it, weeds. So make sure you identify and control them before they go to seed. Garden weeds can steal sunlight, water and soil nutrients from your flowers and food crops.
Here are some timely tips, offered by experts, to keep your garden free of weeds:
Never till or disturb the soil so dormant weed seeds stay asleep, away from light and air. Use a sharp knife with a narrow blade to slice through the roots of dandelions and other lawn weeds to sever their feed source rather than digging them out.Use permanent paths around beds to keep garden soil from becoming compacted under foot.Cover your beds and paths with a thin mulch layer (2 inches deep) of weed-free organic material (wood chips, bark nuggets, straw) to smother weeds.Use drip irrigation whenever watering.Lopping off the flowers is the next best thing when you cannot remove weeds.Watch the gaps between plants. Close plant spacing chokes out emerging weeds by shading the soil between plants.Also, head into your garden daily and walk around. If you see a weed, pull it as you go. Weekly, hoe the area only around the plants, and another time, spread extra compost mulch around the plants and paths.
Hope these tips help you keep in a happy state of gardening!
Marilynn O’Brien is a Colorado Master Gardener volunteer. She lives in La Plata County.