After years of tending the garden, I've learned that there are a few tricks that can help to prevent that most dreaded of all necessities--weed pulling. The best, and easiest, thing you can do is prevention.
When choosing a location for a flower bed, try to choose a spot that is relatively weed-free to begin with, and is not located near any seed producing weeds, such as your neighbors overgrown flower garden, or under any seed producing trees, such as a maple. If the 'perfect spot' is already weed infested, you will need to begin by pulling (yes, by hand) the weeds.
While doing this, try not to disturb any seeds that have already formed on the stalks. Any fully formed seeds will germinate when exposed to your freshly tilled soil. Depending on the size of the weed, you can help prevent the seeds from dropping by tying one of the following over the seed heads of the weeds: a paper bag, a pillow case, the cut off leg from a pair of panty hose (or knee high), or you can also use an onion bag(depending on the size of the seeds). Be sure to discard the seeds, plant and all, in a waste receptacle and not in a compost pile where they can really wreak havoc.
When your chosen area has been fully prepared, and you have either planted your seeds or bulbs, or dug your holes and put your plants into the ground, the next step is MULCH. Mulching is relatively easy, and can be a wonderful accent to your landscape, and can also reduce the amount of watering needed to keep your flowers in tip-top shape during those hot summer days.
Depending on the area in which you live, mulching can also protect your plants from freezing through the winter months. When choosing a mulch, there are several options these days, from newspapers and peanut shells to recycled and cut up tires, but my favorite is still shredded bark or pine straw. If you need help choosing what works best in your area then try to ask your local nursery for help- there's a lot more out there.
Whatever you decide to use, be sure you have enough to cover the area by four to six inches, continuing to add mulch as it compacts or as with the bark and pine straw decomposes over time. If the mulching is maintained properly, it will be attractive and last for years, and be a weed deterrent. This brings us to the occasional weed pulling. If the mulching is maintained then you should be able to get by with only a weekly walk through to keep the weeds in check.
Another benefit of the mulch is it makes weed pulling much easier. A gentle tug near the base of the weed stem is usually all that's needed. Again, make sure to dispose of them properly.
There is one more method you can employ to rid your flower beds of weeds and this is by using chemical herbicides. I admit I'm not too fond of chemicals since I have both children and pets that love to enjoy the garden as much as I do, but sometimes these can be an invaluable tool in ridding your garden of weeds. It is important though that you use them properly.
Since not all herbicides work the same and I'm not familiar with all the herbicides that are out there, be sure to ask your local nursery grower for help. They can tell you about what they have available and can recommend the best herbicide for your particular weed problem. To keep all those who enjoy using the garden safe, be sure to use the herbicide in the manner in which it is intended and store up and away from children and pets.
If you follow these recommendations then you can have a beautiful and easy-to-care-for flower garden.
Jo is a writer for Japanese Knotweed Solutions, (http://www.jksl.com), specialists in Japanese Knotweed elimination. If you are a devoted gardener, a builder or a nature lover, before too long you will stumble upon this horrible weed. Japanese Knotweed is one of the most destructive weeds, causing massive amounts of damage each year to houses, concrete structures, and rivers and streams.