When it comes to weeds, I have a love/hate relationship. I admire how persistent they are and how they help to preserve the soil. In fact, they are very beneficial to the soil, especially in areas where the climate is changing rapidly. Many things we consider weeds are edible as well, and quite nutritious, such as dandelions.
Of course, it’s easy to understand my hate of weeds. They are my least favorite garden chore because they just grow right back. I mean, yeah, it can feel rewarding to see your garden afterwards when it looks all neat. I usually feel hopeless in this endeavor, though, because I know that when I disturb the soil to pull the weeks, I am helping to germinate thousands of new seeds into the garden bed.
Last year, though, my landscape designer friend, Elijah, taught me a new way to deal with weeds. Elijah understands that when you disturb the soil in any way, it encourages weed growth. Because of this, every time you pull out a weed from its roots, you disturb the soil and cause more weeds to grow in that spot.
Instead, Elijah suggests planting your plants densely. When you do find weeds, clip them at their base instead of pulling them up. This makes weed control quicker too. It takes less time to snip and is more effective. The weeds will be set back, which allows your plants to close in over it without disturbing the soil. If you have a persistent weed, it may come back a few times, but will eventually die off when it can no longer compete.
Unfortunately, this does not work with every kind of weed. If you have weeds that grow in a mat or really aggressive weeds, you will need to smother them instead. For most varieties, though, the snipping will be enough to control them.
If you have a larger area to deal with, you can mow or weed eat the areas just above ground level so your own plants can hopefully overgrow the weeds.
So, the point to remember is this: snip, don’t rip.