No matter if you have a flower or vegetable garden, there's one thing that inevitably will grow in both: weeds. And while tending to weeds is certainly not the point of gardening, there's no way to get around them.
It doesn't help that "the weeds seem to be especially bad this year," said gardener Ruth Pearl.
Like many other gardening enthusiasts, Pearl has found no easy answer to the war on weeds.
"I do try to get to them when they're small," Pearl said. While it won't prevent a complete re-growth, taking the extra effort to "get the roots out" does seem to help discourage a swift return.
For some areas of her yard, Pearl applies a chemical, Preen, which she has found particularly beneficial in stubborn areas of her landscape.
For any budding gardener who is more inclined to use chemicals in combating weeds, be careful.
"If you use a product like RoundUp, a post-emergent, it will kill everything, including the plant," warns Jennie Addie of Green Thumb West Nursery.
Rather than attacking the weed once it is already established and growing, it is much more effective, and safer, to use a pre-emergent on weed seeds before they germinate.
To successfully use a pre-emergent, "first dig in the area where plants will be placed, then prepare the soil," Addie said. "While preparing the soil, add the pre-emergent of your choice; this will create a chemical barrier."
While pre-emergents are effective, also note that "they are only to be used on gardens that will house transplants," Addie said. "They will kill plants as they grow from seeds."
A more natural way to protect your flowers and shrubs from being overtaken by weeds is to "mulch as much as possible," said Charles Phillips, Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for the Columbia County Extension Service.
"The mulch blocks the sunlight from hitting the soil and stops some of the germination," Phillips explained.
To help ensure that you harvest more vegetables in your garden than weeds, Phillips suggests applying small grain or wheat straw as a mulch.
"I've even seen people use newspaper, because it breaks down and turns into organic matter," he said. "It's cheap, too."
More than anything, perhaps the best tools for ridding a garden of weeds are a gardeners' pair of hands.
"Sometimes hand pulling is the only option we have," Phillips said. "Just do a little bit every day and stay on top of it."
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