The problem all gardeners face is how to deal with weeds that crop up everywhere – pathways, lawns, garden beds, and even in pot plants. Luckily, we’ve got some
great organic tips to beat them without resorting to dangerous herbicides.
Cover bare soil
Many weeds are opportunistic plants that rush to fill empty spaces. Prevent them from taking hold (especially annual weeds) by covering bare patches. Try some of these ways to keep soil covered.
Dense plantings – these cover the soil and also use up the available sunlight, nutrients and water making it harder for weeds to establish.
Mulches – ensure they’re thick enough to truly blanket the soil but not so thick that they block water from penetrating. Top up organic mulches one or two times a year as they begin to break down.
Weed mat – for dif cult areas with a history of weed problems or places that will not get too much of your attention further down the track, lay weed matting under the mulch for even better weed protection. Use a proper weed mat and not the regular black plastic as this harms soil microbes and reduces plant performance.
Some plants, such as some bamboos and certain lawns like kikuyu and couch, produce runners that can turn them into garden thugs. Garden edging can be dug deep into the soil to act as a physical barrier to these runners. It can be a bit of work in the beginning, but will save you loads of time in the future.
If you’ve already got weeds to deal with, then physical removal is the way go. Here are some options:
Hand weeding – aside from your ngers, there are various other tools to make removal easier, such as hoes and forks, so see what works best for you. Check garden beds regularly and attack the weeds when they’re small and easy to remove. When removing large weeds, watch for seed heads and only add to your compost if it gets hot enough to destroy them.
Scari cation – for masses of small weeds, try scarifying, or lightly cultivating the soil to quickly dislodge and kill the weeds. Works especially well in vegie patches between rows.
Animal helpers – let your chooks, guinea pigs or pet rabbits feast on weedy patches and fertilise the area at the same time. Just remember they won’t discriminate, so plant out your prized seedlings after the animals have gone over an area.
Solarisation – in large areas where the weeds have grown too big for scarifying temporarily lay black plastic sheeting. It robs the weeds of sunlight and water while also heating them up to cook them. You may need to mow or roughly whipper snip the area first if the weeds are tall. Leave for a few weeks until weeds are dead and then remove the plastic. Other materials, such as old carpet or thick layers of newspaper, can be used, but may take longer to work because they won’t heat up like the black plastic.
Other heat treatments – there are also devices available that use steam or a gas flame to heat and kill weeds. Steam devices tend to be more suited to commercial use (popular with some local councils), while the gas- flame option works well in home gardens.
Unfortunately, most sprays are not organic and are actually pretty dangerous chemicals. There are a few certified organic weed treatments available, including Amgrow’s Organix Weed Blitz. This has pine oil as the active ingredient. Don’t go too crazy spraying it as pine needles contain a substance that retards plant growth and this could impact on your desired plants as well as the weeds.
Weeds in lawns
Dig out at weeds early before they expand and kill off lawn underneath them. Regularly mow and feed lawns to encourage denser growth to outcompete other weeds. Fix bare areas quickly with seed or turf sods.