How to Prevent Vegetable Garden Weeds

Uninvited guests like weeds can ruin your yard or garden. They rob plants of nutrients and space. Here are some easy ways to reduce the time spent weeding in your garden and increase it’s yield, without using harmful chemicals.

Keep in mind that new seedlings are at greatest risk from weeds. Your crops should be weed-free for at least the first four weeks.


Cover the soil around your plants with mulch. You can use shredded leaves, straw, brown cardboard, straw or wood chips. Mulch blocks sunlight from reaching weed seeds, which prevents them germination, hinders growth under itself, and retains water. Mulch provides nutrients and cools the soil as it breaks down over time.

Mulch can be used to cover the soil between the plants and in between rows. It will prevent weeds from growing. It is often recommended that you cover the soil at least one-inch thick. To prevent insect invasions and rot, mulch should be kept at least a foot from the base of your plants. Organic mulches, such as straw can be used. However, inorganic mulches can also be used like black plastic and landscaping fabric. A free source of mulch can be had if you own a leaf blower with a shredder. These shredders can quickly convert yard debris to garden mulch, saving you the cost of buying or making your own mulch.

Starve Weeds of Light

Eliminate light for persistent or numerous weeds. Use dampened newspaper or cardboard to cover the soil. Be sure to remove any tape if using cardboard and only use newspaper printed with black ink. Next, cover the soil with 2 inches of straw/compost. You will keep weeds out of the sun by covering them and denying them the light they need to grow. While there will be persistent perennial weeds that do survive, most of them will not grow and so you will need to weed very rarely. Additionally, you’ll also save water and keep your worms happy.

When to Weed

For weeding, remember: Pull when wet; hoe when dry. Prepare yourself for a rewarding session of weeding after a heavy rainstorm. You will need gloves, a sit pad and a tarp or bucket to collect the bodies. An old table fork is a great tool for pulling out chickweed tendrils. Fishtail weeders are great for removing tap rooted weeds like dock or dandelion.

If the soil is dry, weeds that are cut below the soil line will quickly shrivel up, and even die, especially if you have a sharp edge. To remove weeds from roots in mulched beds, you can use an old steak knife and patch any spaces that are left with mulch.

If your weeds grow back, you’ll need to remove the persistent root. To remove stubborn weeds, you can use a digging fork or spade to reach the roots. You should remove as many root pieces possible. To minimize strain on your wrist while weeding, hold the trowel vertically.


To reduce weed invasions in your garden soil, keep your lawn and garden edges trimmed. You should be watching out for weeds around your lawn and posts, as well as near to planting beds. You can also try growing ground roses or perennials to shade these edges.

Don’t Water Your Weeds

If possible, you should only water those plants that you want and keep other areas dry. This will prevent the growth of weeds in places like paths, unplanted areas, and other areas where they aren’t welcome.

Trick Your Weeds

Allow weeds to grow in your garden before you plant it. In early spring, cover your garden with clear plastic sheets to heat the soil and encourage weeds germinating. When the weeds reach several inches above the soil’s surface, pull them or hoe them. You can then plant your own plants.

Protect Between Seasons

Cover crops can be planted at the end of the growing season, after your veggies are harvested, such as wheat, clover, or barley. They are beneficial plants that not only give back to the soil, but also prevent soil erosion and weed growth. Cover crops can be used in off seasons to prevent weeds from growing and becoming a nuisance in the growing season.