Planting Flowers To Deter Weeds: Using Flowers To Keep Weeds Away
You gaze proudly at your newly planted flower bed that you’ve spent weeks creating. Every perfect plant that you selected grows tidily in its carefully planned out location. Then your eyes fall on little sprouts of green weeds popping up between your beautiful plants! Unfortunately, many times when we till the ground for new planting beds, we are also stirring up weed seeds that quickly germinate in regularly watered soil that is exposed to the sun. Now the choice is yours, head back to your local garden center for weed killing chemicals that could harm your wanted plants or purchase more plants to tuck into the open spaces for weed control.
How to Stop Weeds Using Flowers
Farmers have always used cover crops (like peas, beans, soybeans, wheat and rye) to smother out pesky weeds and replace nutrients, like nitrogen, which can be leached from the soil by rains and waterings. In flower beds and home vegetable gardens, you can also use this method of dense planting for weed control.
In vegetable gardens, herbs can be tucked in the spaces around vegetable plants. Certain herbs can even benefit the flavor of the vegetable. For example, many people plant basil around tomato plants to improve the flavor of the tomatoes.
In flower beds, small plants and ground covers can be used as eye-pleasing flowering plants that deter weeds. A thick mass planting of plants can control weeds by keeping direct sunlight off the soil, which often causes weed seeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients. Mass planting of flowering plants can also shade the soil, so less water and moisture is lost from evaporation.
Dense Planting for Weed Control
Perennial ground covers are often used as flowering plants that deter weeds.
In full sun, the following plants are excellent choices for beautiful and efficient ground cover:
For shade- part shade, try some of these:
Plants like hosta and coral bells can be tucked into small areas around trees and shrubs to control weeds.
Low growing, creeping shrubs are also used for dense plantings for weed control. Spreading junipers and mugo pines are often used to fill in large areas. Asian jasmine, Gro-low fragrant sumac, euonymus and cotoneaster also can cover a large area and suppress weed growth.
Annuals, like impatiens and petunias, can be planted yearly as colorful bedding flowers to keep weeds away. Some research has shown that the allelopathic properties of Tagetes minuta, an annual in the marigold family, can deter weeds. Its roots put a chemical in the soil that repels weeds like couch grass, bindweed and creeping charlie. More common varieties of marigolds can also be planted thick as flowering plants that deter weeds and other pests.
6 Ways to Prevent Weeds from Growing in Your Flower Bed (And Which Work Best)
A good weed is a dead weed. An even better weed is one that never shows up in the first place.
That’s why we asked landscape designer Kim Rubert how she tackles these pesky garden invaders.
How to prevent weeds from growing in flower beds? Rubert shares some of the most common ways to prevent weeds, from least effective to your best bet:
Newspaper as Weed Barrier
Your grandmother may have shared this way to prevent weeds, but it’s not a long-term solution.
Spreading a layer of newspaper will starve the soil of sunlight temporarily, but the newsprint will completely biodegrade within a year.
This could be a pain, too, when it’s time to replace bark or rock, because the decomposing paper will be in the way.
Mostly, Rubert says, it makes a mess.
Salt, Vinegar or Other Kitchen Remedies
“These aren’t a solid option,” Rubert says.
Vinegar might kill your weeds, but it can kill surrounding good plants, too.
It also won’t kill the weed down to the root, so you’ll have to reapply it often.
And it will take a lot of vinegar to do the job, which can actually change your soil pH. That means you’ll starve any flowers or plants of nutrients they need, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate.
Pro tip: Save the vinegar for your salad dressing.
Weeding by Hand
Good old-fashioned pulling weeds gives you instant results, Rubert says.
But when you yank a weed by hand, it often breaks off, leaving the root behind. That means it will quickly re-sprout.
Many weeds also have very long root systems, making it difficult to remove the entire root.
Pro Tip: A non-selective weed killer with the active ingredient Glyphosate, will kill any part of the weed left behind after pulling them out by hand.
Post-emergent Weed Killer
If your flower bed is completely overrun with weeds, consider using a non-selective weed killer with the active ingredient Glyphosate, Rubert says.
But this isn’t your best option if there are a lot of existing perennials or shrubs. The weed killer will kill them, too.
Pre-emergent Weed Killer
A pre-emergent weed preventer, such as Preen, or Snapshot is a great way to prevent weeds when seeds haven’t yet germinated, Rubert says.
It zeros in only on ungerminated seeds, so it won’t hurt any plant material that‘s already growing.
Pro tip: Keep your Preen handy when you put down fabric weed barrier (see below) to control any ungerminated seeds that may be lurking there.
20-Year Weed Barrier Fabric: The Best Way to Prevent Weeds
This is the best way to prevent weeds in flower beds, Rubert says.
The weed barrier fabric starves the soil of sunlight and will stop weeds from growing underneath it and keep seeds from germinating in the soil.
Seeds may blow in on top of the fabric and germinate in the mulch on top of it, Rubert says, but these stray weeds are much easier to pluck out by hand because they’re just sitting on top — their roots have no soil base.
The fabric goes down right on top of your topsoil.
But don’t use weed barrier fabric if you’ll be planting bulbs, Rubert says. They won’t come up through it.
And don’t use it where you’re planting annuals.
“You’ll be digging up annual beds a lot,” she says. “You might have to weed a little bit, but annual beds will get thick pretty fast, so weeds aren’t much of an issue.”
Overlap the edges 4-5 inches to discourage weeds from growing in between.
Cut an X where each plant will tuck through.
“Staple” the fabric every few feet with big landscape staples you push in with your fingers.
Pro Tip: when Rubert says fabric, she means fabric. Don’t use plastic. Water can’t penetrate it.
And don’t use the five or 10-year fabric. Use this cheaper stuff, and you’ll have to do this whole progress again before you know it.