Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
At this time every year I promise myself that this spring and summer I will work everyday to stay ahead of the weeds in my yard and gardens. Have I ever succeeded? No. I do really well for a few weeks and then that job wears pretty thin.
If you are just beginning a new garden or yard area, keep the weeds mowed until you are ready to begin your prep work and planting. That will at least keep them from reseeding.
When you have a site where the soil is bare and/or wounded, nature’s remedy is to sprout weeds. Your yard is full of weed seeds but only those closest to the top of the soil get enough light to germinate. That is why it is important not to disturb the soil, and why we don’t recommend tilling, the ground anymore than is absolutely necessary. Dig only where needed to plant a tree, shrub or plant and then immediately cover the area with mulch. The mulch will keep the weeds from getting needed light as well as keeping the soil cool and moist.
“Pull when wet, hoe when dry” is wise advice. When we get a soaking rain head out with a pad for sitting, your gloves and a tub for collecting the pulled weeds. The weeds can be put in your compost pile as long as they are free from seeds.
Mass plantings or placing plants closer together will shade the soil between plants preventing weeds. Spacing recommendations assume that plants will just tough when they reach maturity so planting closer together is an option.
Using soaker hoses or drip irrigation lets you know exactly where your irrigation water is going. Depriving weeds of water reduces germination.
Once you put these tips to use, add good compost and organic matter to your soil often. Keep your mulch 3” to 6” deep at all times, including winter, which will all help to reduce weeds.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.