I hear it all the time and also feel your pain. Weeding is the bane of a gardener's existence. How can you cut down on the chore of weeding? While there is no way to completely eliminate weeds, here are 4 ways to minimize your need to weed.
1. Do not leave large areas of unplanted soil. Plant closely and cover your planting beds with groundcovers, perennials, spreading shrubs and seasonal annuals so weeds have no bare ground to grow in.
If you need ideas to cover your soil, check out my blog post:
2. Mulch your planting beds yearly to about 2 inches deep. By doing so, you are covering the bare soil and weed seeds will not have the sun exposure they need to thrive.
3. Do not till or turn your soil unless necessary because when you disturb the soil you bring dormant seeds to the surface where they can germinate.
4. Weed often so weeds do not flower and go to seed and therefore spread more seeds about. If you are diligent about weeding, eventually there will be fewer weeds. The best time to weed is when the soil is moist and thus when it is easier to pull the whole weed, roots and all, out of the soil.
A note of Preen and other pre-emergent herbicides:
Often one of the recommended ways to decrease weeds is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide such as Preen to your planting beds. A pre-emergent herbicide prevents seeds from germinating so weeds never grow. However, as you can see from the product instructions below, it is "extremely toxic" to aquatic life and basically recommends you wear a hazmat suit while applying and decontaminate yourself immediately afterward. Although it may work somewhat, it is not something I want to expose myself, my pets, my animal friends or the environment to.