Weeds Archives - Zacs Garden

Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " Weeds "

Organic Weed Killer For Lawns

The 9 Types of Organic Weed Killer For Lawns 

Many of Which You Will Find Already in Your Kitchen Cabinets

alarm_thumbnail
A beautifully manicured lawn with no weeds in it

Can you get rid of weeds organically without having to manually pull them all out?

NOTE: Looking for manual weeders to compliment an organic weeding schedule? Here are the best we could find online.

IS YOUR LAWN CURRENTLY home to a growing number of weeds you simply can't seem to get rid of?

If you are like me, the last thing you want to introduce to your lawn is any form of chemical weed killer. Not only is there a definite risk of these chemicals spreading to your gardens, contaminating the soil and groundwater, as well as potentially poisoning members of your family and your pets.

The best way to treat this problem and take care of Mother Earth (and of course your family), is to find and use an organic weed killer for lawns.

Why Use an Organic Weed Killer?

There are many reasons why you should be using an organic weed killer for lawns. As an organic gardener, I know that there is no such thing as an instant fix or magical spray weed killer for my lawns and gardens.

But at the same time, I know that by using a variety of all-natural weed control methods, I have been able to keep the weeds under control for several years since I put the chemicals away for the last time.

One way of weeding without using chemicals or herbicides is the old fashioned way with gloves and a manual weeding tool

Manual weeding is the purests way but it isn't always practical for people with busy lives

If you are like me and have a vegetable garden as well as plenty of beautiful green lawn around your home, the last thing you want is to be using toxic chemicals to kill weeds. No matter how careful you are, some of these chemicals are going to end up in the veggies you and your family are eating.

All you have to do is watch the news or read gardening magazines to see just how much harm these chemicals (like Roundup that has been proven to cause cancer) can do.

The 9 Top Types of Organic Weed Killer for Lawns

I have spent a lot of time researching organic and natural weed killers in my quest to find those that work the best. My goal has always been to have a fully organic garden capable of growing enough fruits and vegetables for my family that I no longer need to shop for them in the stores.

To date, I have managed to be quite successful and only shop for some fresh veggies during the winter months. So, let's take a look at those that I have tried and how well they seem to work.

1. Boiling Water

using boiling water as an effective organic weed killer for lawns

This homemade organic weed killer may be the oldest and simplest trick in the book. There is no "magic" here only a pot of boiling tap water. As long as you don't accidentally spill boiling water on yourself or someone else, it is perfectly harmless.

To apply, simply pour the boiling water directly onto the weeds you wish to kill and stand back. Results are almost instantaneous and there is no residue left behind for you to worry about. For more killing power add a tablespoon or two of table salt to the water.

ProsCons
Water is cheapResults are temporary
No chemicals or additivesRisk of injury from boiling water
Instantly effective

2. Organic Dish Soap

organic_soap_weed_killer

Image courtesy of Raining Hot Coupons

Organic dish soaps mixed with water and sprayed on weeds can be an effective way to get rid of them. However, there is one small problem that you should not overlook. Not only will this mixture kill off any unwanted weeds, but you may find that your "weed killer" kills some of the plants in your garden.

Be very careful how and where you spray this mixture to avoid killing your garden at the same time. You can also use non-organic dish soaps like Dawn and Palmolive but again these are not organic and may not fit into your organic lifestyle.

ProsCons
Very effectiveKills everything it touches
Most organic dish soaps can be used as they contain citrus oilsOrganic dish soaps tend to be expensive
Harmless to humans and petsMust use a strong concentration to be effective

3. Vinegar

vinegar_weed_killer

Image courtesy of Walmart

Vinegar contains "acetic acid" which is well-known for its weed-killing abilities and is great for use as a "non-selective" weed destroyer.

Bear in mind that household vinegar contains only about 5 percent acetic acid (You can find 10 and 20 percent vinegars that are recommended for killing weeds, like this one here). This means you will probably have to repeat the application process several times in order for this organic weed killer to be effective. You can buy stronger mixtures often sold as organic commercial weed killers.

Bear in mind that the term "non-selective" means the vinegar will kill anything it touches, so spray with care.

ProsCons
Very effectiveWill kill everything it touches
Vinegar is cheapCan burn eyes, skin, cuts
Easy to useVinegar stinks

4. Salt

salt_weed_killer

Sodium chloride or as it is more commonly known, salt, can be used as an effective weed killer. Salt also has a long history of being used as a weapon.

There are countless stories of the fields of conquered peoples being laid waste with salt. The salt keeps anything from growing for many years.

However, because salt is so destructive, it must be applied directly to the leaves of the plant, DO NOT get it on any other plants or in the soil!

You should also avoid spraying your salt/water mixture on concrete driveways or sidewalks as it can damage or discolor them.

ProsCons
Salt is cheapMust be applied directly to each weed
Salt has a long history of being effectiveSalt will kill anything it comes into contact with
Salt is readily availableSalt can render your soil unable to grow anything

5. Fire

Red Dragon VT 2-23 C Weed Dragon

Red Dragon VT 2-23 C Weed Dragon

Light "em up! By applying heat and flame directly to the leaves of a weed, you will cause the leaves to wither and die off. Doing this repeatedly will not only kill off the leaves but will eventually destroy the roots.

Weed-Flamers are rapidly gaining in popularity as this simple propane powered burner is designed to focus the heat directly on the weed without affecting any nearby plants.

You should be aware that using fire to control weeds when the surrounding grass or plants are dry can lead to a widespread fire. Be sure to have a garden hose nearby!

ProsCons
You burn each weed one at a timeYou burn each weed one at a time
Instantly kills weedsMay require multiple applications
Everyone likes to play with fire!!Fire can spread rapidly if area is dry

6. Newspaper and Water

water_and_newspaper_weed_killer

Image courtesy of A Garden For The House

You can cover large areas of weeds with a thick layer of newspaper and then keep it nice and wet. The wet newspaper will keep the weeds in the dark causing them to wither and die.

Doing this can be a very effective form of weed control, but it will kill everything under it. I don't recommend using this method of weed control for your lawn unless you are trying to kill off a large patch of your lawn!

Of course, if you do, you can always turn the area into another garden.

ProsCons
Great way to use your old newspapersYou need to keep it wet to help keep it in place and to make it effective
Newspaper decomposes and fertilizes the soilNot good for individual weeds
Kills everything it is placed overKills everything it is placed over

7. Citrus Based Weed Killers

citrus_weed_killer

Creating your own DIY weed killer using a mixture of white vinegar and citrus peels can be very effective. The white vinegar does contain acetic acid that by itself is not the most effective weed killer.

Adding the citrus peels makes a huge difference.

The essential oils in citrus peels contain d-limonene, which is used as a commercial grease cutter.

This grease-cutting property will strip the "cuticle" or protective coating completely from the leaves of every weed it touches. This allows the acetic acid to literally "burn" the leaves and the citrus acid supercharges the acetic acid to make it more effective.

ProsCons
100% organic weed killerVinegar still stinks
Strips protective layers and lets vinegar work betterWill kill anything it touches
Nothing special to buy simply use ingredients you should already have at homeMay burn eyes and skin

8. Corn Gluten Meal

corn_gluten_weed_killer

Image courtesy of Masters' True Garden

Corn gluten is considered to be a pre-emergence weed killer, which is a fancy term for killing weed seeds before they have a chance to become plants!

While corn gluten is generally considered pretty useless, it's useful when you are looking for an organic weed killer for lawns.

Corn gluten will not cause any harm to existing weeds or your lawn as they meal has an oily outer coating that will not allow seeds to develop roots.

As an added advantage, corn gluten meal is very high in nitrogen and makes an excellent fertilizer.

ProsCons
Corn gluten is an inexpensive by-productWill not kill existing weeds
Kills weeds before they growIt is possible to end up with too much nitrogen in your soil which may burn your lawn
Adds plenty of nitrogen to soilOrganic corn gluten may not be readily available

9. Hitch Up the 20 Mule Team

mule_team_borax

Image courtesy of Amazon

Borax has been sold for use a laundry soap virtually forever and while it may no longer be transported by the wagon load pulled by a team of mules, it can definitely give you a hand with those weeds. All you have to do is add 10 ounces of Borax to 2 1/2 gallons of water and spray it on the weeds to be terminated. It works very well but will kill literally any plant life it touches.

ProsCons
CheapKills anything it touches
Readily available in most large grocery storesCan cause skin and eye irritations
Very effectiveCan poison the soil in heavy amounts

Down to the Last Weed

I have not used chemical herbicides in years, the last thing I want in my garden is a load of toxins that will make me and the family sick. Each type of organic weed killer for lawns that has been mentioned works very well.

Rather than tell you which of them is my favorite, let me say that I use most of them in one or more areas of my yard and gardens. I hope you found something of value in the information above and go on to enjoy a weed-free lawn.

  • If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

  • Thank you for reading this.

Related Articles:

Best Weeding Tool for the Most Common Garden Weeds

The Best Weeding Tools for the 6 Most Common Garden Weed Problems... Found in the Yard and Garden

alarm_thumbnail
Best Weeding Tools - Pulling out weeds in the garden

Weeds can be quite a nuisance in the garden, here are some tools to get you rid of it...

PERSONALLY THE ONLY THING I DON'T LOVE about gardening is having to deal with the weeds. To me, there is nothing less enjoyable than bending over or kneeling in the garden to pull those pesky weeds by hand.

There are so many different tools on the market that claim to make this job easier. The big question is, which of them is the best weeding tool, not only for your money but to get the job done right.

Before We Get Started

Thing is, there is no such thing as a single weeding tool that will work for all of your weeding tasks. Unless, of course, your garden is a perfectly flat piece of super soft ground that has been planted with just the right amount of space between each plant.

We all know that the chances of having the perfect garden are pretty slim. There are varying distances between rows and plants to deal with, differences in soil, raised beds, and of course how you plan to weed to consider.

Here are four very important questions you need to be able to answer truthfully before you look for the best weeding tool for each condition.

Pulling out dandelions weeds with just a glove

The soil under your lawn can be quite hard and packed together

1. Where Are You Going to Be Weeding?

The obvious answer to this is, of course, in your gardens. But are your gardens in-ground or in raised beds? Are you weeding between the pavers that make up your garden path, around trees and under shrubs, between your rows of plants? Will you be going all of the above and more?

2. What Type of Soil Do You Have?

Is this a new area of your garden? Is the soil hard and packed or is it nice and soft and lose?

3. How Big Are the Weeds You Need to Deal With?

Are you the kind of person who likes to stay on top of your weed problem or do you wait until they are three feet tall and threatening to take over?

getting rid of unwanted growth, the old fashioned way, with a weeder and bucket

4. How Do You Weed?

Do you prefer to most of your weeding standing up or on your knees? Do you have a medical condition such as back problems that make it difficult to take care of the weeds as they grow?

All of these situations call for a different type of weeding tool and only by carefully considering and answering them to the best of your ability can you truly choose the best tool for each task. The good news is that there are weeding tools designed for just about any situation you are ever likely to find yourself in.

Short vs. Long Handled Weeders

Now that you have a much better idea of where you plan to weed and the types of obstacles you are going to be dealing with, including any disabilities such as back problems, let's take a quick look at the two basic types of weeding tools, short-handled and long-handled as most weeding tools will fall into one of these two categories.

Short-Handled Tools

Many short-handled weeding tools are very similar in design to their longer-handled counterparts. However, the bulk of these tools have their own unique shapes and designs as they are intended to be used for very specific types of weeding.

The concept behind shorter handled weeding tools is to give you a tool that will give your more control to help you avoid uprooting valuable plants, while at the same time giving you enough leverage to make the job as easy as possible.

Depending on the styles and locations of your gardens and the types of weeding (i.e. around plants, between pavers, etc.), you may find you need several different types of weeding tool to get the job done.

Finding the best weeding tool will help save you from manually Pulling out weeds when you are ready to sow some more crops

Most long handled weeding tools will require bending over at some stage

Long-Handled Tools

While the standard hoe is the most common member of the long-handled weeding tool category, there are more gimmicky tools in this category than you can imagine (I know, I tried a few).

Picture if you will those infomercials touting tools that make weeding so easy ever your kids will love I and you understand what I mean. These tools are made for you to use in a standing position, which might be the better choice for those with back problems.

The 6 Most Common Types of Weeding Situations

As stated, different types of weeding call for different weeding tools. So let's take a closer look at the differences and what type of tools might make the best weeding tool for each task.

#1 - All-Round Weeding

While you may find that you prefer separate weeding tools for each task, there are a few tools out there that can be used for just about any type of weeding in your gardens. Most of these tools are going to fall into the short-handle category.

While this does mean you will spend your weeding time on your knees, these smaller tools let you get closer to each individual weed so that you can remove them without causing any damage to your plants. This category includes tools such as these:

Fiskars_Softouch_Weeder_7060
radius_garden_102_weeder

RADIUS GARDEN 102 Ergonomic Aluminum Hand Weeder

Both of these tools feature ergonomically shaped handles and blades that are designed to help you get around and under the roots of the weeds in your garden so that you can remove them easily.

#2 - Bulk Weeding

When you have large areas of unbroken ground, need to remove weeds in a garden area that has been left to its own resources for too long, or need to clean up the garden plants at the end of the season, you need a tool that is going to make the job as easy as possible.

A propane powered garden torch is considered to be the best choice for this type of weeding.

Red_Dragon_VT_2-23_C_Weed_Dragon

RED DRAGON VT 2-23 Weed Dragon 100,000 BTU Propane Vapor Torch Kit

At 100,000 BTU, this propane torch will turn any plant, living or dead, weed or not, into ashes in seconds.

#3 - When Accessibility is an Issue

When you have a bad back, weeding the garden can seem like a painful and often insurmountable task. Bending over or working on your knees for long periods of time can be virtually impossible.

Fortunately, there are a number of long-handled weeding tools designed to make pulling the weeds out of your garden something you can do by yourself rather than having to pay your kids, or someone else's to do the work for you.

Yard_Butler_RKT-1000_Rocket_Weeder

Image courtesy of Yard Butler

Typically, these tools (see image) feature a foot pedal that closes the jaws around the weed so that you can easily pull it out of the ground. An ejector button at the top releases the jaws and lets the weed fall out. Not only do you get to pull the weeds out of your garden, your hands stay nice and clean.

#4 - Paved Pathways and Other Hard to Get to Areas

The cracks between the pavers you used to build your patio and pathways can be really hard to keep the weeds out of. Many crops are grown so close together, trying to weed between them tends to be so challenging, it almost never gets done.

What you need is a tool that has a long thin blade, one that sits at 90 degrees to the handle. This way once you reach the spot where the weeds live, you have the leverage to remove them easily.

GARDENA_8928_Hand_Patio_Weeder_Combi_System

Image courtesy of Gardena - The Hand PAtio Weeder Combi System

While this tool comes with a short handle, the company that makes it also sells an extension handle that makes this tool far more versatile and can help ease back pain while you clean up those cracks.

#5 - Garden Bed Weeding

If you are like me and like to get up close and personal with your plants and weeds, you probably spend a lot of time on your knees. Also, if you are like me, your soil is probably nice and soft, which should make it easy to pull those annoying weeds.

This is the perfect place for a finger weeder. Essentially these are a tool that is designed to slip over one of your fingers (usually the index finger) and has a forked tip that can be used to dig around the weeds so you can remove them easily.

The_Ring_Weeder

Image Courtesy of The Ring Weeder

Simple and oh so easy to use, I have one of these and absolutely love it for those times when I am practicing my own form of "zen" gardening.

#6 - Bigger Weeds

While a ring weeder is perfect for smaller weeds it may not be the best weeding tool for tackling those bigger ones. One of my favorite tools for this job is the Japanese Hori Hori knife. This tool is perfect for digging deeper into the ground to remove bigger weeds with ease.

The best ones have a sharp knife edge on one side and a serrated edge that can be used to cut through roots on the other. The blade is usually concave and often has a ruler engraved into it for measure spaces between plants and rows or planting depths.

Truly_Garden_Hori_Hori_Garden_Knife

The riveted wood handle and extra sharp dual purpose blade make this an excellent choice for weeding your garden. The stainless-steel blade features a full tang for added strength and durability.

Our Top Manual Weeder Picks in Each Category

Now that you have a better idea of what you should look for in weeding tools for your garden adventure, let's look at one of the best weeding tools in each category.

The All-Rounder

Fiskars_Softouch_Weeder_7060

FISKARS Weeder (7060)

Fiskars Softouch Weeder

Extra-large ergonomically shaped handle for added comfort and controllability

This weeder has a curved head with twin tines designed to give you plenty of leverage for uprooting even the toughest weeds. It is perfect for removing thistles and dandelions.

The head is made from long-lasting aluminum that will never rust or corrode. The Softgrip handle helps reduce wrist and hand fatigue when you spend hours out in the garden.

ProsCons
Softgrip handle is comfortable and durableYou have to work while on your knees
Aluminum head will not rustMetal head is not strong enough to use in clay soil
Head design make removing weeds easierTines are short and close together

Bulk Weeding

Red_Dragon_VT 2-23

RED DRAGON VT 2-23 C

Red Dragon 100,000-BTU Propane Vapor Torch Kit

Burns everything in its path with ease

All you need to get started is a 20-lb. tank of propane and a way to light the fire. This weed burner has been given the National Home Gardening Club Member Tested Seal-of-Approval.

When turned all the way up, flame temperature can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which will burn virtually anything, especially weeds, that gets in its way. The best part is you can use this torch for more than burning weeds, you can use it to thaw frozen water lines, melt ice and snow, burn stumps and heavy brush, and more.

ProsCons
Easy to useWorking with live fire
Burns everything to ashDefinite fire risk
Comes with 10 feet of hoseMay not kill the roots

Accessibility Weeder

Yard_Butler_RKT-1000_Weeder

YARD BUTLER RKT-1000

Yard Butler RKT-1000 Rocket Weeder Steel Weed Remover

Stand up, use your foot, and remove weeds with ease

When you can't get down on your knees to pull weeds or you simply prefer not to, the Yard Butler may be just what you are looking for. It makes pulling weeds from a standing position fast and easily. 

All you have to do is open the jaws, dig down around the roots and push down on the foot operated lever. The jaws will seize the weed tightly so that you can pull it out. The quick-release button lets you drop the weed in your wheelbarrow or bucket.

ProsCons
Easy to useNot for use on tough weeds
Sturdily builtLeaves holes that must be filled in
Ergonomic handle designPoor handle design

Paved Pathways and Other Hard to Get to Areas

GARDENA_8928_Hand_Patio_Weeder

GARDENA 8928 Weeder

GARDENA 8928 Hand Patio Weeder Combi System

Perfect for those difficult spots like cracks between paving stones

We all know how hard it can be to clean out weeds growing between paving stones, in the cracks between the sidewalk and your walls. This simple tool is thin enough to slip into these cracks with ease and sharp enough to get under the weeds and rip them out of the ground.

Best of all the kit contains an extension handle that lets you use it when standing up as well as when you are kneeling.

ProsCons
Simple DesignLong handle can slip out
Comes with long handle extensionHas few other uses
Blade is sharp

Garden Bed Weeding

The_Ring_Weeder

The Ring Weeder - The Best Way to Weed with Your Hand!

The Ring Weeder

One hand or rather one finger weeding

When you have raised garden beds, the last thing you need is to be trying to use large garden tools to remove any weeds that grow.

This simple weeding tool slips on a finger so that you can weed your garden beds by hand. The twin prongs let you dig under the roots so that you can easily pluck the weeds from your garden.

ProsCons
Easy to usePlastic may break
Twin prongs let you dig under weedsSmall and easy to lose
You get 3 per packageMay be too big for small hands

Bigger Weeds

Truly_Garden_Hori_Hori_Garden_Knife

Hori Hori Garden Knife

Hori Hori Garden Knife with Free Diamond Sharpening Rod and Leather Sheath

The Ultimate garden weeding tool

The Japanese Hori Hori knife may truly be the ultimate gardening tool. This one has a 7-inch blade made from 420 stainless steel that will provide you with many years of flawless performance.

The blade features a razor-sharp edge on one side and a sharp serrated edge on the other. The tang extends all the way into the handle which is held together with 3 rivets for added strength. You also get a thick leather sheath and a diamond sharpening rod.

ProsCons
Top quality 420 stainless steel bladeMetal tang protrudes from handle
Heavy-duty leather sheathRivets not set flush in handle
Extremely sharp bladeSharp edges of tang can cut handle

Down to the Last Weed

There are so many different types of weeding tools on the market it can be very hard to know which of them is the best weeding tool for your needs.

While I wish I could tell which of these is my favorite, I have, to be honest, I have at least one of each that gets used for specific purposes. But, if I had to choose one, it would be the Hori Hori knife because it has so many uses.

If you buy one of these, you are sure to fall in love with it, I guarantee it!

If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here. Thanks for reading this guide on finding the best weeding tool for the most common garden weeding problems.


Related Articles:

The Truth About Landscaping Fabric and 6 Other Easy Ways to Prevent Weeds

The Truth About Landscaping Fabric & 5 Other Simple Ways to Prevent Weeds

alarm_thumbnail
Landscaping Fabric Placed on Ground to Stop Weeds

Does laying a physical barrier really prevent weeds? 

GROWING TIRED OF WATCHING the weeds in your garden grow faster than your veggies? It's a common garden dilemma. And it's common for proactive  gardeners (like yourself) to look for a way to put an end to this cycle. Looking for a way to keep the weeds at bay without resorting to spending a lot of time on your knees or working with a hoe. But do any of them actually work?

If you have ever looked at a professional garden installation, you may have noticed they don't have much of a weed problem. One method used to make this happen is the use of landscaping fabric, but there are others such as landscaping plastic, mulch, cardboard and more.

The Jury is Still Out

Okay, so let's start this off by saying the jury is still out on the use of landscaping fabric or plastic sheets.

While many gardeners, both professional and amateur alike swear by these products (yes, they will keep out the weeds), many others say they are not good for your garden and should not be used (they kill off valuable microorganisms and earthworms).

In the end, you have to decide who is right and which of the different weed control methods is going to work best for you.

The 6 Most Common Ways to Prevent Weeds...

1. Landscaping Fabric

Landscaping fabric is a porous material designed specifically to help keep the weed population in your garden under control. It is intended to be placed on top of your garden's soil and then pinned in place and held down by using more soil or mulch.

The fabric is designed to allow water and air to pass through but to ensure no sunlight reaches the soil below it. In doing this, it prevents weeds from being able to germinate and grow. It can be used when planting your garden or added after your plants have come up.

Advantages of Landscaping Fabric

Controls Erosion

Landscaping fabric can be very helpful if your garden suffers from soil erosion problems such as those caused by heavy rains or high winds. It is also very useful if your garden is on a hill to help keep your soil where it belongs.

The fabric will also help to protect your plants' roots from exposure due to erosion that might cause them to succumb to disease, root rot, or many other forms of damage.

depositphotos_12000704-stock-photo-weeds-in-the-garden

Landscaping fabric done properly will prevent weeds in at least the medium and short term

Controls Weeds

We all know that weeds are great at stealing the nutrition your veggies need to flourish from the soil. By keeping the weed population under control, your plants will have a much better chance to grow big and strong, providing you with an exceptionally good harvest.

It is perfect for smaller plants that will in time grow large enough to provide more shade that will also help to keep weeds out of your garden.

Disadvantages of Landscaping Fabric

Adverse Effect on Soil Nutrient Levels

One of the biggest disadvantages of using landscaping fabric is that over time it will have an adverse effect on nutrient levels in your soil. These nutrient levels are dependent on the decomposition of mulch and other materials over time. The fabric will reduce or stop this from happening, leading to "dead" soil that will require significant amendment on a regular basis.

Landscaping Fabric Placed on Ground and Cut Out for Plants

A typical set up of a garden bed covered with landscaping fabric

Loss of Versatility

Many gardeners like to move their plants around or add more as and when needed or wanted. Landscaping fabric was never designed to be versatile and must have holes cut in it every time you want to add more plants. At the same time, if you remove plants, you must patch the fabric or you will soon have weeds growing through the holes.

Scotts 25-Year Pro Landscaping Fabric

Keep weeds at bay without using chemicals

SCOTTS_25_Year_Pro_Fabric

SCOTTS 25-Year Pro Fabric, 3 by 150-Feet

If you are going to use a landscaping fabric to control weeds in your garden, this one by Scotts may be your best choice. It is designed to provide you with up to 25-years' service without breaking down. It also offers excellent erosion control. Thanks to the woven design, water flows through easily, but nothing can grow underneath it.

The fabric is rated at 1.5 ounces and is strong enough to be used under gravel for paths and driveways without suffering any damage. It is easy to work with and comes in a 3-foot wide roll that measures 150-feet long. One thing you should note is that in heavier rains water will pool on the fabric until it has time to drain through.

ProsCons
Easy to cut and work withSome complaints it rips easily
Blocks the growth of most weedsSlow water soak through
Has a long lifespanGrasses may grow through weave

Landscaping Plastics

Some gardeners find that using landscaping plastic can be a good way to keep weeds under control. As with landscaping fabric, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using plastic sheeting in your garden. The most common forms of landscaping plastic are clear and black. Depending on what brand you buy it can vary significantly in thickness and overall quality.

2. Clear Landscaping Plastic

While black sheeting is more commonly used, there are some very distinct advantages to using clear plastic instead. The most obvious advantage to using any kind of plastic sheeting is that it will prevent the growth of weeds. But clear plastic will still let the sunshine reach your soil.

This helps to warm the soil and in many cases will allow you to start planting a little earlier. The heat will also help to kill off any soil borne pathogens. This process is called "solarization" and can help to rid your soil of disease-causing organisms, insects, and of course pathogens.

Covalence Plastics 4-Millimeter Clear Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

Listed as a vapor barrier but thick enough to use in the garden

Polyethylene_Plastic_Sheeting

COVELANCE PLASTICSTyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

At 4 millimeters thick, this clear plastic sheeting is more than strong enough to keep the weeds in your garden under control. Each roll is 10 feet wide by 100 feet long, giving you plenty of coverage.

While it is not listed as being for use in landscaping, but it is definitely up to the task. Unlike many other so-called "clear" plastics that end up being milky, this one is crystal clear and will let plenty of sunlight reach the ground under it. It is easy to handle and easy to cut.

One word of caution, however, be sure you are cutting in the right place as repairing erroneous holes can be challenging as most tapes (including duct tape) will not stick to it very well. If you are covering a large area, be prepared to overlap pieces for best results.

ProsCons
Rolls are 10 x 50 FeetDoes not allow water to pass through
Crystal ClearRips easily
Easy to work withHard to repair rips and tears

3. Black Landscaping Plastic

Black plastic landscaping fabrics come in many guises, but those that are at least 4 feet wide and at least 1-1.5 millimeters thick are the most commonly used. Bear in mind that if you plan to use the plastic for several years or bury it under mulch, gravel, or a layer of soil, thicker plastic will last longer. Be sure that any sheeting you buy is listed as being UV resistant to help keep it from breaking down.

Black plastic will help hold in any warmth your soil happens to have and may allow a certain amount of heat to build up during the day. However, it will block out the sun's UV rays and in doing so prevents them from killing pathogens, disease-causing microorganisms, and pesky insects. If you live in a colder climate, you may find the heat generated will not even be enough to help kill weeds.

No matter whether you use clear or black landscaping plastic both will not allow water to reach your plants and will also stop any water in your soil from evaporating. This can lead to problems such as root rot that can kill your garden rather than helping it to grow.

Covalence Plastics Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

Extra-wide rolls make covering larger areas a breeze

COVALENCE PLASTICS Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

COVALENCE PLASTICS Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

This roll of black sheeting can easily be adapted for use as landscaping plastic and at 12 feet wide is sure to cover a large area of your garden in a hurry. Each roll is 100 feet long each roll provides a lot of coverage. At 6 millimeters, the plastic is thick enough to take significant abuse without falling apart.

Although listed as a construction material, it is perfectly suited to being used out in your garden to help get rid of the weeds. You should be aware, however, that black plastic can trap in excessive amounts of heat that can "cook" your soil and everything in it (including the good bacteria and microorganisms).

ProsCons
12-foot-wide rolls offer plenty of coverageCan overheat your soil
Durable enough to walk onRips easily
Keeps weeds at bayHard to repair rips

4. Mulch

Mulch is one of the oldest forms of weed prevention short of getting down on your hands and knees so you can pull each weed complete with its roots out of the ground. Depending on the type of mulch you intend to buy, it can be a great way to control the weeds in your garden naturally.

This being said, you can buy mulch made from wood chips or bark, locally at very reasonable prices. This type of mulch will break down over time and help to add nutrients to your garden.

But at the same time as it breaks down, you will need to replace it on a fairly regular basis. You may find that unless you put landscaping fabric or plastic under it, you will still see a small quantity of very brave weeds poking through any holes.

There are a number of rubber mulch alternatives that do not break down or blow away. These have the added advantage of lasting for many years without losing their looks or effectiveness. But, at the same time, you are putting another unnatural layer in your garden.

Scotts® Nature Scapes® Color Enhanced Mulch

Made from natural recovered forest products

Scotts_88452795_Nature_Scapes_Color_Enhanced_Mulch

SCOTTS Nature Scapes Color Enhanced Mulch

Unlike some "wood" mulch, Scotts never uses wood pallets or old construction debris to make this mulch. It is made from natural recovered forest products that do not contain harmful chemical or nails.

It is available in a range of colors that are guaranteed to stay vibrant all year long. Each bag measure 2 cubic feet for maximum coverage. It should be spread 3 inches thick for maximum weed prevention while still allowing moisture to reach your plants.

ProsCons
Color lasts a long timeA bit expensive
Made from natural recovered forest materialsColor will come off on your hands when putting down
Reduces amount of water needed for your plantsMixed texture may include twigs and sticks

5. Cardboard and/or Newspaper

Cardboard placed on ground to kill weeds

Photo: ‘Cardboard base for raised bed’ CC BY 2.0 JoePhoto

Using cardboard, newspaper or a combination of both has become a popular way to mulch gardens and prevent the growth of weeds at the same time. Along with this, it is a great way to recycle these materials rather than seeing them end up in your local landfill.

Many gardeners will place a layer of cardboard or newspaper in their garden at the beginning of the season and then cover them with mulch. The idea behind this is the same as using landscaping fabrics, plastic sheets, or for that matter mulch by itself.

This idea is to block sunlight from reaching the soil, which in turn will help to prevent the growth of those annoying weeds. Both materials will help to insulate the soil and keep a certain amount of warmth in.

Over time they will also allow water to slowly soak through and add moisture to the soil. Both will eventually decompose and add a number of nutrients back into your soil. The best part is you can find plenty of cardboard at most local businesses and they won't charge you a dime to haul it away.

ProsCons
Both decompose adding nutrientsBoth are messy
Both are freeNewspaper can blow away
Both are being recycledYou still need mulch or rocks to hold in place

6. Chemical Weed Prevention

As with many other facets of our lives, weeds can be controlled through the use of chemicals. Weed preventers and weed killers have become a major factor in both home gardens and industrial farms where growers are more worried about producing large quantities of their crops than they are about what ends up in the end product.

Does this mean you should not use chemical weed killers in your garden? Not necessarily, what it does mean is that you need to decide for yourself if you are comfortable with using products such as Preen to prevent the growth of weeds or if you would be better off taking a more natural approach.

Preen

Preen is not a weed killer


Preen_Garden_Weed_Preventer

Preen Garden Weed Preventer 

One thing you need to know up front is that Preen is not a weed killer and should not be used to take care of an existing weed problem. It is designed to stop most weeds from being able to germinate.

It can be used after your plants have germinated and reached a height of 2 to 3 inches. It will not harm most plants and can be incorporated into the soil before you plant, while you plant, or applied after you have mulched your garden beds.

For best results, it should be reapplied every 9 to 12 weeks.

ProsCons
Keeps weeds at bay for up to 9 weeks or longerMust be reapplied every 9 - 12 weeks
You are adding unnatural chemicals to your gardenDoes not kill existing weeds
Will not harm most garden plants and flowersNot always very effective

Down to the Last Weed

There are so many different ways to prevent weeds from growing in your gardens. Some like landscaping fabric offer a long-term solution but may affect the overall quality of your soil. Others like Preen add toxic chemicals to your soil that can have a range of adverse effects.

For my money, I use plenty of cardboard along with a healthy layer of cardboard. This lets me enjoy watching my garden grow without the back-breaking work of pulling weeds all summer long. I also use natural mulch so that over time my garden gets plenty of natural nutrition.

  • If you have enjoyed reading about landscaping fabrics and other forms of weed control please let me know.

  • If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

  • Let everyone know you enjoyed reading this on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

  • Thank you for reading this.



Related Articles: