The earth comes alive in spring, and homeowners everywhere celebrate the rebirth of their landscapes. Unfortunately, with spring also comes weeds, and the age-old battle between gardener and nature begins anew.
However, the battle against weeds doesn't have to be such a difficult struggle. Instead of trying to control them through spraying and plucking, there are several other methods that can keep weed growth to a minimum on your property. Below are three ways that can prevent weeds from ruining your landscape.
One way to prevent and control the growth of weeds in your landscape is to install a weed barrier. Weed barriers are available as wide rolls of fabric and are laid flat on the ground to prevent weeds from ever seeing the light of day. These barriers are manufactured from a variety of natural and synthetic materials, including polyester, polypropylene, and burlap.
To successfully use a weed barrier, there are a few steps that must be undertaken. First, the ground must be exposed and any existing plants must be dug up or killed. The roots of some weeds will be strong enough to push through a weed barrier, so these must be located and removed.
Next, the soil must be raked to a smooth, level finish, and any foreign objects such as stones or dead plant debris should also be removed. This will prevent tearing of the weed barrier and allow the material to lay perfectly flat.
Finally, a couple of layers of weed barrier should be laid on top of the soil, ideally using a criss-cross pattern. This will provide plenty of "backup" against the most stubborn of weeds that attempt to gain a foothold. The barrier is tacked to the ground using landscape fabric clips, which are simply large wire staples that hold the barrier in place.
Mulch is another favorite for those attempting to keep weeds under control. Almost any material can serve as mulch, including wood chips, tree bark, gravel, and lava rock. In addition, there are several inorganic mulch products, including recycled, shredded tires and other chopped-up materials.
To make mulch successful at preventing weeds, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, mulch will be much more successful if it is applied on top of a weed barrier. That provides an extra layer of protection against emergent plants. Second, mulch should be applied in a sufficiently thick layer. Some people attempt to get by with just an inch or two of mulch in their landscape, but this is often insufficient to prevent weeds from penetrating.
Instead, apply at least four to six inches of mulch, if at all possible. This will not only discourage weed growth, but also provide other benefits such as retaining moisture for desirable plants. In addition, a thick layer of mulch will prevent thin spots from developing and opening up vulnerable spaces for weeds to exploit.
Another way to prevent weeds from becoming a problem in your landscape is to completely cover the soil with a paved surface. Paving can be used in gardens and general landscaping to create beautiful walkways, sitting areas, transition zones, and boundaries. Once paving is installed, weeds won't have anywhere to go but around the paved area.
Paving in a landscape can be installed using flat stones or bricks designed expressly for that purpose. In addition, ordinary bricks can also work well, as can natural stone pieces fitted together. Another affordable option is to use concrete forms to pour blocks in place.
When installing paving, it is important to create a strong base of support beneath the paved area. Soil must be leveled and compressed using a tamping tool that packs it into place. In addition, a layer of several inches of builders' sand is also vital for forming a perfectly flat surface that will hold the blocks. Don't compromise on the base, or the paving will eventually shift due to rain-caused erosion.
For additional advice, contact a landscaping professional in your area.