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11 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

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2. Maintain healthy soil

Once you have put in desirable plants that crowd out weeds, keep your plants healthy with fertile, aerated and well-drained soil. Test your soil and talk to local specialists to create the optimal fertilization plan. Unfortunately, weeds can grow in virtually any soil, but soil improvements will at least create a level playing field with your plants.

“Most weeds don’t have specific requirements for growth other than open areas. It usually isn’t possible to eliminate weeds simply by supplying some specific nutrient,” Hartzler said. “However, anything that can be done to promote the growth of the desirable plant will reduce weed problems. Weeds often benefit as much, if not more, from the application of fertilizer, so blindly applying nutrients in the hope of suppressing weeds can be counterproductive.”

Soil compaction is a concern under lawns, but can be overcome with core aeration every three or four years, said Smith.

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Read more: Conservation, Home, Household Hints, Lawns & Gardens, Nature

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122 comments

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10:47PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Burning some weeds causes them to spread. The most effective method I've found is to put black plastic over the area that has weeds. Water the ground before hand. Hot sunny days will boil the weeds and kill them. In Colorado we have weeds that have root systems 5 or 6 feet down. digging them out is impossible but this method works. I've even used boiling water after I've made sure there are no worms in the area.

I also think we need to change our notion about weeds. We're wiping out Monarch Butterflies because many of us won't tolerate any weeds and even if we're willing the county/state might not be. Monarch Butterflies need Milkweed. We've got 2.5 acres of land and I'm planting milkweed on it. Laws be damned.

10:19PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Can u plant grass on top of black weed sheets

5:13AM PDT on Jul 16, 2013

..my kitchen yard is infested...very interesting, thanks!

10:13AM PDT on Jul 14, 2013

Some good ideas, never use Roundup!!!!

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

1:17PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I'm trying to cultivate a moss carpet, but pulling and digging weeds is tedious and unending. Any suggestions?

3:32PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

I definitely will try newspaper under my mulch. I have found that a commercial grade of fabric is needed as weeds will still come in any areas where the mullch is thinning. I used black plastic on a slope (what was I thinking??) before wheelbarrowing in rock and a lot of it slipped to the bottom. ;>) Thanks for the article with lot of tips Chaya.

7:32PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

@Megan Saxbury: your point being? Are you saying that since God condemned man to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, we shouldn't find better or easier ways to garden? I guess we'd better give up the the rototillers...and the long-handled cultivators...and even the hoe, since I'm sure Adam didn't have one.

7:28PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

@Mike & Janis: with that big a dandelion invasion, you basically have two choices: poison, or learn to live with them. In the latter vein: when my children were small I encouraged them to bring me daily bouquets of dandelions (when they got a bit older I had to pay them a small bounty, but it still got the blossoms into a flower bowl instead of sending seeds all over the neighborhood). In addition, I harvested the leaves for the table. Neither trick will eliminate dandelions, but they'll help control them and keep them from spreading even further.

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