DIY Network

Keep Garden Beds Weed-Free

When it comes to keeping weeds out of your garden beds, there are a number of options.

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a hoe does a good job of cutting weeds in half

Hand tools are some of the most effective ways to get rid of weeds from the garden, but they're labor intensive. Tools help the gardener because they don't add chemicals to the garden. For organic gardeners, tools should be your first line of defense against weeds. Shovels are good for digging out large clumps of weeds because it removes the roots and stems. Pitchforks do the same thing, but they leave more of the soil in place. Hoes do a good job of cutting the weeds in half, separating the stems from the roots.

There are several weed removal chemicals on the market. You have to read the label carefully to see on which plants it works and on which ones it doesn't. And remember, some products wipe out everything — not just the weeds.

You have to be very careful when using any kind of chemical treatment in your garden. Wear gloves, a long-sleeve shirt and long pants to protect your skin. Wear goggles to protect your eyes. Follow the directions on the label exactly and don't use on a windy day. Use a piece of cardboard as a backboard for the spray. Hold it in front of good plants to keep the chemicals from their leaves. If you get a weed control chemical on a plant you want to keep, wash it immediately with lots of water before the chemical can dry on the leaves.

Mulches and top dressings are one of the most effective ways to prevent weeds from popping up in the garden. Weeds need light, air and water to dig their roots in. By covering the soil before they have a chance to get started you save yourself a lot of work later. Newspaper is a cheap way to block weeds. Just lay 2-3 layers right on top of the dirt. Reapply newspaper every few months to make sure weeds aren't finding their way into your garden.

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