Not only are weeds in your flower bed unsightly, but they also steal water and nutrients from the other plants. Left uncontrolled, they can take over completely and your gorgeous flowers won’t have a chance.
Weeds are notoriously difficult to get rid of for a lot of reasons. Some drop seeds and germinate insanely fast while others form deep and complicated root systems below the soil that seem next to impossible to eliminate.
To protect your beautiful flowers and the rest of your plants, getting rid of weeds is essential. There are plenty of methods to try.
Table of Contents
How to Get Rid of Weeds in Flower Bed?
1. Stop Them Before They Start
Being proactive against weeds is always better than trying to get rid of them once they’re taken over your flower bed. The most effective way to do this is to make sure the soil is free from weeds and any weed seeds before planting your flowers.
Admittedly, this isn’t always easy as some weeds lie dormant underground just waiting for air exposure to come alive. Hunt carefully and remove anything you find so you can start with the cleanest soil possible.
Make sure not to accidentally add any weeds to a clean bed, too. When adding new plants, examine them closely to make sure there aren’t any small weeds present. If you find any, pull them away before placing the plant in the soil.
If you compost, make sure it’s aged long enough so that any weed seeds won’t take root. Or, better yet, keep clippings out of the compost pile. The weeds can germinate and spread quickly and there’s a good chance you’ll just add them right back into the flower bed.
This is a time-consuming method but can be quite effective if you’re willing to put the time in. Heating the soil before adding flowers can kill both weeds and their seeds.
Rake the surface of the soil then waters it generously. Next, cover it with a large heavy plastic tarp or sheet. Place rocks, bricks, or other heavy objects around the edges to keep the plastic in place. The humidity and the heat from the sun should create enough heat for this to be effective.
Water the area around the plastic regularly to keep it moist. After about eight weeks, the soil should have had enough heat exposure to kill any weeds or seeds.
3. Plant Groundcovers
The basic idea here is that is if every area of soil in your flower bed is covered with a plant, weeds won’t have anywhere to grow. You’ll also create a dense, lush look as your flowers grow and the groundcover weaves around their stems and covers all the exposed soil.
Some good plants for this are Creeping Thyme, a short plant with tiny bright pinkish-purple flowers or Japanese sedge grass for a long, dramatic look. For something lush and green, try shade-loving hostas.
When choosing a plant for groundcover, it’s important to consider how tall it grows. While it makes a beautiful accent that helps keep weeds away, groundcover shouldn’t be taller than the featured flowers in your flower bed.
Mulching uses the same idea as groundcover only instead of filling in the spaces with plants, you use mulch instead. Applying mulch is much easier than planting ground cover and you can choose from various types and colors to match the exterior of your home, upping curb appeal.
It’s important to use a thick layer of mulch. Aim for about six inches of organic material. Not only will the weigh prevent weeds from being able to push through but it also helps the soil retain moisture.
Alternatively, you can use a plastic sheet or landscape fabric underneath and use a thinner layer of mulch. The fabric adds an extra barrier and should produce the same effect.
5. Hand Weeding
This is the most time-consuming and tedious option of all but it’s really successful if you’re able to get the entire weed, down to the root. The best approach is to weed the flower bed on a regular basis. Catching seedlings when they’re small is much easier than trying to remove complicated roots when they’re bigger.
For large weeds with deep roots, bear in mind this process can actually take years but once you get it under control, the weeds should be eradicated. In the long run, it’s worth the investment. Cut large weeds as low as possible every few weeks. Keep doing it until it stops coming back.
Hand weeding can be very tough physical work but there are plenty of tools available to help. Try a hand weeder with a sharp, narrow tip to get right down into the roots or a sharp hoe to cut through roots just beneath the surface.
To prevent cross-contamination or inadvertently spreading weeds, be sure to clean your gardening tools thoroughly every time you weed.
Chemical herbicides are another effective option. Some gardeners prefer not to use them unless as a last resort while others use them as their first line of defense.
Herbicides are very effective against weeds but have to be used very carefully so as not to damage other plants in your flower bed. They can also be harmful to pets or small children so it’s important to use them with caution.
Note that there are different types of herbicides that work in different ways. When working in a flower bed, it’s important to choose one that will cause the least amount of damage to the beautiful flowers surrounding the weeds.
Contact herbicides work by killing the part of the plant they come in contact with which means they aren’t that effective at getting to the roots or any other parts of the weed underground. That said, they work very quickly at killing the weeds about the surface.
Systemic herbicides typically absorb through the leaves and are transported through the plant. While these herbicides work slowly, they are effective at killing the entire plant in time.
If you have to use a chemical herbicide, try one that combines both contact and systemic action to get the benefits of each.
One good thing about these types of herbicides is you have to apply them directly to the plant. That means that, as long as your careful, they should not have any effect on nearby flowers.
A Full Frontal Approach
The best way to control weeds in your flower bed is a full-frontal approach that combines all of these methods. Remember, some weeds lie dormant in the soil until they are hit by sunlight and fresh air so you never really know what you’re working with right away.
Still, starting out with the cleanest flower bed possible is really important. Depending on the type of plant you’re dealing with, it might be next to impossible to get the soil completely clear. But the fewer weeds you start with, the easier it is to control them.
After removing what you can and letting solarization do its magic, add mulch, groundcover, or some other barrier to keep anything left behind at bay.
Finally, if something manages to sneak through despite all your hard work, manual removal or chemical herbicides are usually necessary.