Weed Prevention in Planting Beds

Proven methods for effective weed control

Each spring, as we wake up from our winter hibernation, we can’t wait to dress up our beds for spring. Sometimes the first sight we see is weeds, some leftover from fall, and some are new arrivals. Before mulching, we want to clean these up first. You can use a cultivator tool to lift the weeds mechanically, but it is much easier to spray.

If the temperature is above 60 degrees, Roundup will do a great job on all types of weeds. In colder weather, Weed Beater Ultra will do the job. Don’t worry; these weed killers will not “travel” or stay in the soil to hurt your plants. If you are worried about overspray, use cardboard as a shield between the weeds and your plants to protect your garden friends. If you wish to be organic, Burnout is natural and very effective on most weeds. These products start to work in hours, but it is best to spray at least one to two days before mulching. 

Next, a garden weasel rotary cultivator should be used to break up old mulch and work into the soil. Aerating the soil allows water and nutrients to get into the roots, and not be a barrier. Now apply a fertilizer (4-4-4). Fertilizers give your plants the nutrition they need to produce an abundance of flowers and leaves.

You are now ready to mulch. There are many types of commercially available mulch, and all will help with suppressing weeds and moisture retention―the choice is yours. Very popular are color-dyed mulches. Color-dyed mulches are coated with nontoxic, natural food dyes. Since the color is dyed in, it stays darker longer than other mulches. If you wish to remain natural, a triple ground mulch or root mulch will provide a finely ground cover. An occasional light raking will keep your mulch looking fresh all season.

The final step is to apply a weed preventer like Preen. Preen will stop any new weed seeds from sprouting in your fresh mulch without hurting your existing plants, including any newly planted annuals. Make sure the product is spread evenly through the beds and not missing in any areas.

Water well after application to wash the product off leaves and to activate it into the mulch. To control weeds all season, re-apply the Preen in 2½ to 3 months and spot spray as needed with your weed spray of choice.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your beautiful planting beds all season.

I like weeding, but I tend to think of it as a solitary activity.

Roy Blount, Jr., Writer