Controlling Spring Weeds

Weeds always seem to get an early jump on you in spring. Before you know it, they're competing with desirable plants, robbing them of light, water and nutrients. They also look terrible, clogging the straight rows of vegetable and flower beds, messing up new ground cover plantings, and finding every crack and crevice in walkways, paths and driveways.

Here are some tips for preventing and eliminating weeds in your landscape.

Cultivate often. Use a trowel, hoe or other garden implement to turn the soil, uprooting young weeds and exposing their roots. Remember, though, each time you disturb the soil, you bring hidden weed seeds closer to the surface to germinate.

Use landscape fabric. Landscape fabrics are cloth-like materials that are permeable to water but smother weeds. Roll them out before planting ground covers, roses or other landscape plants, and then cut small Xs to plant through. Cover the fabric with organic mulch to make it look more natural. Landscape fabrics are also a good choice to use under gravel or stone ground covers.

Plant closely. Planting vegetables and flowers closely together will help them shade out weed seedlings.

Mulch. A thick layer of organic mulch, like compost or ground bark, will smother weed seeds, preventing young plants from reaching the surface. Weeds that do get through will be easier to remove.

Pull by hand. This time-honored solution can be remarkably effective if you keep at it. Just make sure to get all the roots.

Apply an herbicide. Look for a product that's labeled for use in your areas of concern, such as patios, driveways, sidewalks and flower beds. Always follow label instructions.