Heating the soil to kill weeds and weed seeds works before you plant flowers in the bed if you have a large area and plenty of time. Till the soil in the bed, rake it smooth, water it and cover it with clear, heavy-guage plastic, weighted down at the edges so it stays in place. Ensure that the area around it stays moist. It will take about eight weeks for the soil to heat enough to kill weed seeds.
You have options when it comes to keeping your flower beds weed-free. The best way to minimize the weeds in your garden is to use all of the methods at your disposal, and to be persistent in your efforts, especially as you first start out. Keeping your flower beds relatively weed-free not only makes your job easier as a gardener, but it also helps keep your plants healthy without the added competition of unwanted weeds.
Weeding by hand is most successful if you get the entire root of the weed and if you remove weeds before they have a chance to flower and spread seeds. Be diligent about weeding on a regular basis, and try to remove very small weed seedlings before they grow large by simply scratching the surface of the soil on a hot day with a hoe or pronged fork weeder; the sun will quickly dry out the small seedlings and their roots. For weeds with very deep roots or rhizomes that resprout with any portion left in the ground, continually cut the plants as low as possible. Eventually, after 9 to 13 bouts of weeding over two years, you’ll eradicate the weeds.
As a last resort, you may want to use chemicals to kill the weeds in your flower beds, but the risk is that you might damage or kill your flowers along with the weeds and possibly harm birds or pets with toxic poisons. Begin with the most benign products, such as those containing vinegar or other acid-based liquids, corn gluten meal or herbicidal soaps, and apply them as directed on the packages. Then try other chemical herbicides designed specifically for the weeds in your garden and use them exactly as directed.
Always sterilize your weeding tools with rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipes after each weeding session to help ensure that you don’t transfer weed seeds or diseases from one part of your garden to another.
If you plant every inch of your flower bed with plants of your choosing, weeds will have nowhere to grow and your flower bed will appear lush and unified with the same ground cover plants weaving in and out among larger plants. For example, plant multiple clumps of Japanese sedge grass (Carex oshimensis), which grow 10 to 12 inches tall in USDA zones 5 through 9. Or strew seeds of Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida), a member of the aster family with profuse brilliantly colored flowers that grow in USDA zones 10 through 12.
Mulching involves covering the ground around plants with a thick layer of material that smothers weeds. Plus, mulch has the added benefit of helping the soil retain moisture. Use a layer from 4 to 6 inches deep of organic material, such as wood chips or composted leaves, to prevent weeds from growing. Or use a dark colored sheet of plastic mulch or landscape fabric with a thinner layer of chips on top to hide the unattractive material.
Both early spring and fall are great times to divide and split the perennials in your landscape. And with some plants like daylilies and hostas, you can even dig and transplant in the middle of summer. (See: How To Divide Perennials In The Summer)
Placing down an inch or two of mulch around perennials, annuals and shrubs is simply not enough. It won’t keep weed seeds buried in the soil below from germinating. Nor will it keep seeds that blow in from afar from finding a way down into the soil below to sprout and grow.
Filling Flowerbeds On The Cheap
In fact, with just 3 simple secrets, you can keep your flowerbeds beds healthy, beautiful, and virtually weed free all summer long. All by working less, and having more time to actually enjoy them!
Although mulch is an important part of keeping beds neat and tidy, it should never be the first line of defense. Nor should it be the most visible or used material in your flowerbeds. Instead, that honor needs to go to the plants!
Listen Below To Our Podcast On Keeping Flowerbeds Weed Free!
Weed fabric may seem like a good idea for keeping out weeds. Unfortunately, in the long run, it usually causes more problems than good.
The number one way to eliminate weeds from flowerbeds is to keep the soil surface covered. And that means year round!
How To Eliminate Weeds In Flowerbeds
And the benefits don’t stop there. Dense plantings help to conserve moisture in the soil, meaning less watering time for you. Maybe best of all, the less you need to mulch, the less mulch you have to have to spend on it!
Don’t Disturb The Mulch
And finally, whatever you do, don’t rake that mulch! Believe it or not, not raking is one of the best ways to eliminate weeds in flowerbeds.