Spring is here today in our sunny green Atlanta! and the garden is calling…

weeding without chemicals

In my war against invaders, the front line is clear. The weeds may win the battle, but I'll win the war.

Ahh!… spring arrived today, the days are getting longer, and the time has sprung forward to shed a whole new light on my yard. I love spring for all the little buds and new growth that start to appear, but every year it seems like one day I turn around and realize that my yard and garden beds are exploding with unwanted guests – weeds. I would like to find a way to handle this pesky annual issue without the use of chemicals which, I’ve realized, is pretty labor intensive no matter how you approach it.

The way I figure, if I can just spend 15 minutes a day pulling weeds, it’s can’t take me that long to cross from one end of the yard to the other – and then start over again. Right? But what gardener can spend just 15 minutes outside in the dirt? Not this one. Yesterday, I set out with my garden shoes on and all good intentions to just spend a few minutes rescuing my poor mondo grass from choking to death. And what embodies weeding without chemicals more than intimately plucking every thin weedy hair by its roots?

As much as I love the smell of dirt and feeling at one with my garden, I looked up other ways to go about weeding without chemicals. Here are the suggestions I found from various websites:

  • Newspaper. Surround your plants with a layer of newsprint and a thin layer of mulch. The paper will keep the weeds down and worms will do the rest.
  • Plastic sheeting. A local hardware store’s gardening section will have a selection of large plastic liners that you can use in your flower beds to seal out weeds. Just dig out the bed, put down the liner, and cover with dirt and plants. This works great, but is generally more helpful with a new flower bed. And not so helpful after several years when the lining tears and the weeds start coming through anyway.
  • Recycle your fall leaves and grass clippings! Take your raked-up leaves (and mulch them a bit with the lawnmower) and / or your grass clippings and put them to work as mulch. Saves you money and uses resources you already have in your yard.
  • Garden hoes. You can get a variety of garden hoes at the hardware store that you can use to take swings at young weeds that haven’t taken a deep root yet. It will either cut them down or release them from their tenuous grasp on the dirt.
  • Hand tools. A good weeding fork can be worth its weight in gold. I thought it was a little silly when my mom got me one a couple of years ago, but I don’t know how I would do without it now. I know that the dandelions would certainly win if not for my ability to pull up their deep roots with the little split fork.

If you have more suggestions for weeding without chemicals, please let me know! My yard is pretty established so far, which limits me in the amount of havoc I can wreak with hoes and tools and mostly leaves me with my bare hands, so if anyone has suggestions for weeding large areas of yard, I welcome them!

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