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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Art of War Against Weeds

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."
From "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

If you have taken any classes in business you have probably heard Sun Tzu quoted. I like to use "The Art of War " as a guide on how to fight the evils that we find in our gardens. If our plants or the protagonists in the war stories of our gardens then certainly the biggest of many antagonists is Mr Weed.
I think there are two main philosophies in the war against weeds, proactive, and reactive. A person employs a reactive method when they go outside and see that their garden has been overrun by morning glory and dandelions. The action that is taken is to start pulling weeds. It works but it can be labor intensive.

I like to use Sun Tzu's philosophy by being  more proactive and subduing the enemy without fighting. There are a few methods that come to mind for subduing weeds before they can get a foothold in our garden. 
  • Cover your naked dirt: I think the best method for limiting weeds is to make sure they don't have a place to grow. Once I know where my plants are growing I make sure to cover the ground so weeds are less likely to get a foothold. 
    • Mulch: I like the idea of putting down mulch that will eventually break down and add to the composition of my soil. Straw is my personal favorite. I also like to use grass cuttings. Be sure that your grass cuttings are weed free if you are going to add them to the garden. 
    • Landscape Fabric: Landscape Fabric can be used to cover your dirt so weeds can't grow. I don't use fabric or weedblock but I know people who find them to be effective. I don't like a lot of them as many are plastic and not biodegradable. If you are going to use landscape fabric, find one that is biodegradable and it can break down into the soil. 
    • Other covers: We have used newspaper in our garden in the past and it works great, you can also use cardboard, bark, sawdust, and probably other things that I have not thought of.
  • Gardening methods: Certain gardening methods inhibit weed growth. Many square foot gardeners or vertical gardeners don't have as many weeds because they have so many plants in a smaller place and weeds just can't compete very well. The desirable plants choke out the weeds. Raised beds also help reduce weed growth.
  •  Watering Methods: the use of drip irrigation methods helps inhibit weed growth.Since the drip lines water only a small area around the plants, many weeds will die of thirst.
In the fight against weeds, try to employ some of these methods so you have less weeds. These proactive methods will require less work than letting weeds getting established.Which of these methods work for you? What are some of the things you do to stop weeds in their tracks. Share your ideas and help others find success in their gardens.



Alice said...

I need to do better with mulch. I got one bed covered with grass clippings, but the others are still sitting there, all immodest. :)

We don't have a bag on our mower, so I have to rake up clippings to use them as mulch, and I don't do it as often as I should...

But, it's easier than weeding.


Pull the weed out as soon as you see the little sucker. My goal is to avoid more work than necessary. So far, so good.

Elijah said...

We are currently losing this battle. Because we live up north where the season is short I hurried to get my garden in after turning the soil. And since this is our first year here our garden was nothing but weedy pasture before. Which means now it's trying to be nothing but weedy pasture again. I should have been more deliberate...maybe nest year. In the mean time my oldest is getting paid $12 to weed it.

Zach said...

I am using primarily raised beds, and they're mulched to boot. It's really easy to spot unwanted weeds and pull them before they have strong roots. Plus, weeds/grass can't creep in from the surrounding lawn.

Pictures for anyone who's interested:)


Frank Zweegers said...

Great post!