Control garden weeds in early spring

Apr 13, 2016

Weeds are easiest to control when they are tiny emerging plants, reported Jeanette Marantos in a Los Angeles Times blog post. Marantos got tips on weed management from Cheryl Wilen, UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor in Southern California.

Wilen recommends home gardeners use a swivel (or hula) hoe to scrape the surface and decapitate weeds. “It's a bit of exercise,” she said, "but you can do it so quickly, it's not a problem.”

Another weed control strategy is a thick layer of mulch, with does double-duty by reducing water evaporation from the soil surface, thereby conserving water. Wilen suggests a three- to four-inch layer of mulch be spread in garden beds and landscape borders before the weed seeds have a chance to germinate. Mulch  blocks the sunlight weeds need to push through the ground.

Fabric weed barriers are useful for controlling particularly challenging weeds, like nutsedge. Wilen suggests covering the fabric with mulch for an esthetically pleasing weed-free garden.

Though the common herbicide glyphosate (such as Roundup) kills weeds and is safe if used correctly, Wilen prefers using the swivel hoe.  "It's just quicker and easier than pulling out the spray equipment," she said.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist