Weed Control in Landscape Beds

Lawn maintenance extends includes weed control in landscape beds.  Most common lawn weeds are equal opportunity attackers, when it comes to landscape beds.  Without the frequent mowing that lawns receive, weeds in landscape beds can grow, happily, developing and releasing thousands of seeds to re-populate and live another day.  If the lawn is picture-perfect, but there are weeds in all of the landscape beds around the house, driveway, sidewalk or out-buildings, the overall impression is marred.  To present the best overall picture of your lawn and landscape, make sure that you eradicate weeds in the lawn and in the landscape.

Landscape Beds Provide their Own Challenges

Landscape beds are sometimes more difficult to maintain in a weed-free condition, because they contain a wider variety of plants than the lawn.  Lawn weed killers are generally broad-leaf herbicides, which means they kill broad-leafed plants (dicots) that are not grasses (monocots).  That makes sense for ridding a lawn of weeds.  That makes weed control in landscape beds a trickier proposition, best accomplished using a multi-pronged approach.

Weed Control Procedures

Controlling weeds in landscape beds relies more on proper procedures than certain chemicals.  Chemicals tend to be largely indiscriminate, and maintaining a weed-free foundation planting requires finesse.  Here are the ways gardeners can control weeds in their landscape beds, without hurting the plants they want to keep.
  • Apply organic mulch such as grass clippings, shredded bark, composted leaves, bark chips-anything that will break down and enhance the soil over time. Using organic mulch isn't just good for the earth, it is good for you. Over time, new weed seeds accumulate on top of whatever type of mulch you use. If you use organic mulch, it will break down over time, and you can add more mulch on top of it. If you use rubber or plastic mulch, you have to eventually remove it because new soil will build up on top of it, and make it useless, in terms of weed control. The same goes for rocks. While they are natural, they are also extremely slow to break down. Unless you live somewhere arid, where rocks are part of the natural landscape, it is best to leave them out of beds.
  • Use pre-emergence herbicides. Corn gluten is an organic pre emergence herbicide. There are also synthetic options available. These compounds prevent weeds from sprouting, so they won't help you get rid of the weeds already in your flower beds, but they will help you prevent new weeds from sprouting. Usually, the best time to apply pre-emergence herbicides are in the late winter and late summer, in anticipation of the change of seasons.
  • If the weed problem is very bad, and you can't eradicate with mulch and pre-emergence herbicide, you can use post-emergence herbicide. Roundup is the brand name for the chemical glyphosate, the active ingredient in most common lawn weed killers. The herbicide should be sprayed directly onto the plants you want to eliminate, not the plants you want to keep, and only works when the temperature is above 70 degrees outside.
  • If you want to steer clear of chemicals, pulling weeds before they go to seed is another good option. After a few seasons of weed control, your weed problem in landscape beds will be significantly diminished.
Remember, the landscape beds and the lawn work together to present a beautiful vision of a piece of property.  For the best "curb appeal" make sure that you control lawn weeds and landscape weeds with equal vigilance.
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