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can weeds grow in mulch

Can weeds grow in mulch

Cut small “X” shapes into the weed barrier if you want to plant new plants in the area before laying the mulch. Dig a hole in each “X” shape and place one plant inside each hole.

Pull up any weeds that are already growing in the area you want to mulch. Use a trowel to help you remove the roots of the weeds, which will decrease how many try to grow back.

Use several layers of old newspaper in place of black plastic weed barrier if you want a more environmentally friendly way to reduce weed growth through your mulch. Lay the newspaper down and cover with a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch. You’ll have to replace the newspaper and mulch more often, however, because the newspaper will biodegrade over time. Fabric weed barriers are another option, though they aren’t always as effective as plastic in preventing weeds from growing.

Things You Will Need

Black plastic weed barrier

Rake the area smooth and remove any old mulch, rocks or debris that could poke a hole in your weed barrier.

Warning

Spread a layer of black plastic weed barrier over the planting area. If you already have plants growing in the area, cut holes in the black plastic to fit over them.

Overlap the strips of black plastic weed barrier so weeds can’t sneak their way through the edges of the material.

Can weeds grow in mulch

Here are a few strategies for preventing weeds from popping up in your mulch:

For flower beds and landscaping, we like a chipped or shredded bark mulch with a relatively coarse texture. It decomposes relatively slowly and doesn’t blow away so it can do its job and keep sunlight from reaching the soil. Inorganic mulch (like stones or gravel) does an excellent job of preventing weed growth. However, it doesn’t offer the soil-improving benefits of organic mulch.

How Can I Prevent Weeds in My Mulch?

We often find weed seeds in old or contaminated mulch. Seeds can also get distributed by birds or wind into new beds.

Applying mulch every spring makes sense on several levels. It helps enrich the soil and helps retain moisture during the dry summer months. But the main reason most of us mulch is weed control. We faithfully lay down a couple of inches of mulch and cross our fingers that we’ve won the battle. But most of us aren’t so lucky: weeds almost always find a way to pop up, even in the most beautifully mulched landscaping. Why are weeds so hard to tame, and what can you do to stop them? Here are a few tips:

What’s the Best Mulch to Prevent Weeds?

We all know how tenacious weeds can be. They thrive on the very same things your garden does: sunlight, water, and nutrients in the soil. Weeds take pretty much any opportunity to grow and aren’t picky about where they take root. As plant-based mulch decomposes, it provides an attractive, nutrient-rich environment for weeds to take root.

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The frequency and timing of your fertilizing efforts are also crucial to healthy lawns. Both vary depending on your lawn type and the length of your growing season. Most northern lawns need only one or two applications of fertilizer annually—once in fall and sometimes a second time in spring. Southern grasses might require three feedings—early to mid-spring just after the grass greens up, early summer and again in early fall.

Weeds can’t survive without moisture. In areas with little or no summer rain, drip irrigation or soaker hoses help prevent weed seeds from sprouting by depriving them of water. These systems deliver water to the root zone of plants at the soil level. The soil surface and area surrounding the plants stays relatively dry. In contrast, overhead sprinkler systems spray water over the entire soil surface and supply both garden plants and weeds with water.

Preemergence herbicides, such as those containing oryzalin or trifluralin (look on the label for these chemicals), or nontoxic corn gluten meal, kill weeds just as they germinate and will not eradicate established weeds. For a preemergence herbicide to be effective, you must apply it to soil cleared of visible weeds; also, you have to water most of these herbicides into the soil.

Mow Higher

Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots and helps annual bluegrass, crabgrass, chickweed, sedges and other weed seeds germinate. If you water too little, the lawn suffers while spotted spurge, Bermuda grass, quackgrass and other weeds adapted to drier soil thrive. Instead, provide your lawn with infrequent, deep soakings. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Set an empty tuna can on the lawn to determine when you have applied 1 inch of water.

Photo by Saxon Holt

As with most types of prevention, discouraging weed seeds from sprouting requires some extra time now so you can save a lot of time later.

Fertilize Enough, but Not Too Much

Controlling weeds is a fight you can’t win entirely because they always grow back. But you can keep weeds under control by depriving new ones of the conditions they need to take root in the first place. Let’s look at how to prevent weeds from growing.

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