Friday, October 23, 2009

Advice on weed killing

If anyone reads this post - I would love to get some advice on large scale organic weed killing. We have a large area that we are planning to use for our vegetable garden next year. Maybe 100x75' or so. Currently it is covered in weeds that have seed pods on them. The weeds are dried out and dormant right now.

We are trying to figure out the best way to prepare this area for an early start in the spring. Our idea right now to do things organically is to mow the weeds and hopefully remove some of the seed pods by bagging clippings and disposing of this material. Then we're thinking about roto-tilling the rest of the weeds into the first few inches of soil. To prevent additional seeds from blowing over and to suppress weed growth in the spring, we were thinking about putting landscaper's black fabric down somewhat permanently. Then in the spring, we'll build our raised beds on top of this, and just mulch the pathways.

Does this sound like a good idea? Comments would be very appreciated!


  1. Opinions on weed killing, tilling and landscape cloth are myriad on the internet. My suggestion is to read university horticulture (Extension Service) pamphlets online for the best information. Also look for 'lasagna gardening' for some other ideas.

    I'm sure you'll get many comments on the pros and cons of all. You will always get weeds and the 'fix' is dig, dig, dig, pull, pull, pull. Tilling brings up long-buried, long-lived weed seeds. I have never used landscape cloth, on the advice of others.

  2. If the weeds are dormant now, mowing and bagging the refuse for disposal is a good idea. Rather than tilling the soil, I would go ahead and build the raised beds, and fill them with compost, and green and brown materials that will compost.

    As Nell suggested, tilling the soil is going to bring up millions of seeds that have been dormant for many, many years, just waiting for light and moisture to germinate. I would not use landscape fabric, as it will not decompose, and will eventually just get in your way. I would use several thicknesses of newspaper instead. Organic, and very cheap, and it will eventually decompose and be incorporated into the soil. You can use newspapers on the pathways as well, covering them with dried leaves or mulch to cover the newspaper.

    This is the easiest way. There is really no 'easy' way to attain your goal of a weed free garden. You will still get weeds, just not so many, and they can be controlled in raised beds much easier than in a 'regular' garden. We were given weeds so that we will always have something to do.

    Good luck with your project, and enjoy doing it!

  3. Thanks for the input. We mowed and bagged up the weeds we could easily get to. After talking to some other folks, I think we may try to get some free mulch to spread over the area. In the spring we will probably put the raised beds on top of the mulched area. This should suppress the weeds, make for good pathway material and help enrich the soil with organic material.

  4. I would stay away from the landscape fabric as it doesn't always work to suppress weeds and if you want to do any digging it is a pain in the butt! I have found just piling 4-6" of compost on an area does the trick. No newspaper or cardboard even necessary!

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  6. I agree with the above comments. Pick up the debris, Suffocate your weeds by covering them and grow on raised beds. Hi from a neighbor gardener. We are in he Black Hills of South Dakota. Come visit my blog and garden if you are ever in the area - Gloria