For a green thumb that worships their garden, unwanted weeds are a constant thorn in the side. Just when you have the place looking absolutely schmick, they seem to magically pop-up over night in garden beds, in your lawn and through joins in pathways, quickly spoiling the look of your great outdoors. Check out these simple tips for combatting weeds in your garden.
Install weed matting
Weed matting is a protective layer for your garden beds that blocks weeds from busting through. To install weed matting in new garden beds, first you need to remove any existing weeds. Roll out the weed matting and trim it to size with scissors or a utility knife. Use a hammer and metal or plastic pegs to secure the matting in position. Mark the position of new plants with a circle, then draw an X inside of the circle. Cut along the X, fold back the flaps of matting, then dig your hole for your new plant. Once all plants are in position, add a 5–10cm layer of mulch over the top of the matting.
Add a layer of mulch
For established garden beds, one of the easiest ways to prevent weeds from popping up between your plants is with a layer of mulch. Mulch will smother weeds and prevent their germination in the soil. And the good news is – you can choose from different mulch materials and colours to get the right look for your yard. When refreshing mulch in garden beds, first you need to remove any existing weeds. It’s also a good idea to make sure the soil is moist before applying mulch. Apply a 5–10 cm layer of mulch and avoid mounding the mulch around the base of plants.
Dig ’em out
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, slip on your gloves and enjoy a dose of fresh-air therapy, the most environmentally friendly way of removing weeds from your lawn is by hand. The best time to do this is when the weeds are in the early stages of growth, as young weeds are easy to remove. They also won’t have had the chance to form seeds, which spread to other parts of your garden. Top tip: to avoid crawling around on your knees (and an achy back!), look for a purpose-made weed puller with a long handle.
Spray selective herbicides
How do they work? Selective herbicides remove unwanted plant types and leave others unaffected (unlike non-selective herbicides, which kill every plant they contact). The most common use for selective herbicides is for removing weeds from lawns, and the most regularly used types are:
- Broadleaf weedkillers. These specifically target weeds such as bindii and clover.
- Weed and feed products. Working in two ways, this type of product removes certain weeds from your lawn while giving it a dose of fertiliser, too.
- Winter grass killers. These remove winter grass from selected types of lawns.
- Moss and algae killers. Used to remove algae, moss and lichens from your lawn and hard surfaces.
Pest and disease control
In addition to weeds, plant diseases and pests (such as aphids, caterpillars, thrips and scale) can be problematic in your garden. Spraying your much-loved plants with fungicides or insecticides can control many diseases and pests. You’ll find these chemicals on the market sold as concentrated liquids or as wettable powders, both of which you dilute with water. For ease of application, you’ll also find pre-mixed products available in trigger packs or hose-on applicators.
Tips for best spraying results
- For an even coverage of spray, it’s important that a continuous supply of liquid reaches the spray nozzle. For this, pressure pumps give the most even flow.
- Choose to spray in the early morning or late evening, when the air is calm and there is no bee activity.
- Good coverage is important for best results; direct the spray upwards to cover the underside of leaves, too.
- For smaller gardens (such as balconies and courtyards) or for your pot plants, look for a continuous atomiser that holds about one litre of spray. Alternatively, pre-mixed trigger packs are suitable.
- Avoid pouring in extra chemical ‘just for good measure’ – this is wasteful and may do more harm to your plants than good.
- When handling chemicals and mixing up sprays, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.