Love your garden: How to keep those pesky weeds under control

Hard work: Nobody enjoys weeding, but there are things you can do to reduce weeds in your garden. Photo: domain杭州夜网m.auI don’t think I know a gardener who really loves to weed.  I don’t mind the results of a clean-up but I prefer other more rewarding garden jobs than weed-pulling.

I’ve got some good news for you. There are some do’s and don’ts to minimise the success of weed seeds germinating in your garden.  Now I’m not saying you can stop the wind blowing or birds doing their business as they fly over the garden but with a little effort you can turn a big problem into a minor one.

1. It starts at the nursery. I don’t like buying plants that have weeds around the base of the pot. It usually means the plant has been in its pot for a long time and is probably pot-bound. Your new plant has been competing with those weeds for nutrients. There’s also a good chance the weeds will establish themselves in your garden too.

2.  Fill your garden beds by planting shrubs and ground covers. You will reduce the amount of sunlight weed seeds need to germinate. You very rarely see weeds popping up in plants like lomandra, liriope​ or mondo grass.

3. Try not to disturb the soil. There are always weed seeds in your soil but unless they are exposed to the sun, they won’t grow. I understand if you are planting vegies  or annual flower beds but turning the soil to remove existing weeds is just encouraging the next season’s weeds to prosper.

4. The newspaper that you’re holding is my favorite way to knock out weeds. Rip and tear out existing weeds and simply cover with a few sheets of the Herald. It’s important to wet the paper completely so that it starts to break down and will accept rain water through to the soil rather than repelling it. Cover it with mulch and it will break the cycle of weeds in the soil for a year or two. In my opinion, this is the smartest form of weed mat. It’s free and it works. I don’t like traditional weed mats as they are permanent and hard to remove after weeds get established on top of them over the years.

5. Mulch, mulch and mulch. Mulch is still the most important element for successfully reducing the impact of weeds in your garden. Organic mulches such as compost bark fines, wood chips, pea straw and lucerne are all great ways to improve your soil, keep it warm in winter and cool in summer, reduce evaporation and most importantly, suppress weeds. Combined with the newspaper technique, I find its the best line of defemce when you’re under attack from weeds.

6. I’m often asked about sprays and herbicides to remove weeds and I don’t mind using them in a commerical situation as I know they’re fast-acting and I can guarantee success. At home with my daughter Heidi and of course, Danni my dog, I try to limit them. I have used them from time to time but always and without exception, I apply them at the application rates suggested. Stronger doesn’t mean they will work better. In fact, it can work less. I like using coloured dyes with my herbicides so I can see where I’ve sprayed and I don’t overspray.

7. On paths and driveways, boiling water works really well. Next time you’ve got the kettle on, take the leftover water out to the drive and try it. By the time the water runs off the drive onto a lawn or garden its just warm water and will do no damage, only good.

I’m not saying weeding will disappear from your life but it’s a lot more fun pulling out one or two from time to time than tackling a weed-infested garden every season.