“Insanity,” said Albert Einstein, “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He probably wasn’t talking about weeding. In fact, his lakeside allotment garden near Berlin was famously weedy (he preferred sailing). But the great man’s thought does apply. If your approach to weeds is to simply roll up your sleeves each spring and yank them out then… well, see the quote above. Because there is a better way. Focus on preventing weed seeds from growing each spring and you’ll have a weed fighting strategy from which you can expect great results.
The ultimate weed fighting equation is so simple that Einstein himself would likely approve. Stopping weed seeds = weeds that don’t grow. No weeds. No weeding. It’s all, as you might say, relative.
Putting the plan into action in the garden is easy. First, prevent already-growing weeds from flowering and going to seed by killing them or pulling them out. Then the stage is set to stop new weeds by preventing weed seeds from sprouting. The first element in this equation is adding a layer of mulch. Mulch is a natural weed suppressant made up of a loose material (often shredded wood, leaf mold, compost or pine straw) that is added on top of garden beds to deprive weed seeds of the light they need to germinate. Mulch also helps retain soil moisture and keep soil temperatures constant.
All mulch naturally suppresses weeds when applied approximately three inches deep. Many weeds will be prevented in this way, yet many buried weed seeds may still sprout when exposed by footfalls, digging or other soil disturbances. Still other weed seeds can grow in the mulch itself if already present there, or carried in on the wind or by birds or animals.
To boost mulch weed prevention, sprinkle a granular pre-emergent like Preen on top of mulch and water it in. Preen prevents weed seeds from forming roots, light or no light, in the top layer of soil and mulch. Added to mulch, Preen provides long-lasting protection against new weeds for three to four months. Reapply in mid-summer to get full season weed protection.
To increase this protection exponentially, try using a bagged mulch that comes with added weed preventers already mixed in. Preen Mulch Plus is a premium hardwood mulch with two built-in Preen weed preventers. It’s the only mulch of its kind (sold nationwide at Lowe’s and independent garden centers). Its guaranteed to stop the seeds of more than 100 different types of weeds for up to six months, including such tough nuts as dandelions, field bindweed, pigweed, common groundsel, crabgrass, spurge, hairy galinsoga, fireweed, horseweed and more.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that fighting weeds by focusing on the seeds is a winning formula. The good news is that by following this routine season after season, you’ll continue to get the same results – a dramatic reduction in weeding – which should make you insanely happy with your garden.