How to Control Weeds Organically

Spring is well and truly here!
We are seeing our plants thrive, unfortunately the weeds are also making the most of the ideal growing conditions. So here goes, the battle of the weeds.

Many of us have children and pets to be mindful of - and are considerate of our environment and wildlife too. Chemicals are not an option then.

Here's our tips on controlling weeds naturally

The best way to control weeds is to stop them in their tracks while they're young, or avoid them becoming established at all.

  • Pull out as many weed seedlings as possible by hand, where you can. Weeding by hand removes the roots and prevents regrowth. Little and often is the best way - if you can't get to them all, pinching off the growing tips stops them forming flowerheads (and the next generation of seeds)

  • Turn new areas of soil well with a hoe or hand cultivator to cut off existing weeds and expose any hidden seeds to the light to encourage germination. If you have chooks, now's the time to let them run about on this patch!

  • Add some blood and bone mix to the soil, this encourages composting and the breakdown of the weeds.

  • Cover your area with thick plastic, cardboard, old carpet (upside down) or several layers of newspaper. This generates heat and steam, preventing seed from germinating and kills the weeds. Secure with stones or pegs if needed.

  • Follow with a layer of mulch and leave undisturbed for 4-8 weeks if using plastic or 3-4 months if using newspaper. When you're ready to plant, the soil will be well composted and loaded with nutrients. Simply loosen the soil and plant your young plants. Don't forget to apply a good layer of mulch after, this will also slow the weeds down.

  • There are also commercial membranes usually sold as weed matting that you can use if you're in a hurry. Roll them over the ground, cut cross-slits in where you want to plant, peel back the membrane and put the plant in. You'll need to weed the areas where the membrane has been slit, of course.

For everyday weed control :

  • Boiling water works especially well for weeds with deep roots in hard to reach areas, think driveways and between pavers. Don't try this near your prized plants though or you'll end up with plant soup!

  • Use kitchen ingredients. Pour 1/2 cup of table salt into a 500ml spray bottle, fill with white vinegar and shake to dissolve the salt. Spray on problem areas. Do this on still days, not breezy ones to avoid spraying on your favourite plants.

  • A painstaking method of controlling weeds which we are all familiar with is the old knife or fork! We've got a purpose-built tool if you don't want to ruin your cutlery.

  • Traditional Dutch hoes are great at keeping weeds at bay if you use them regularly. They're nimble enough to get between rows of veggies or around herbaceous plants. Slice the tops off the weeds before they can get big, flower, and set seed.

  • Try planting vigorous dense-growing groundcovers as a living mulch,  like Trachelospermum (star jasmine), gazania, grevillea, and hibbertia - these will outgrow the weeds in no time.

If you do find yourself fighting a losing battle trying to control weeds, consider using a natural pet-friendly herbicide like organic Slasher. Even if this is just until your plants are established and covering ground.

Until next time… Happy gardening!