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Past Articles Library | Organic Weed Killer | Garden In Weedy Areas
HOW TO GARDEN IN WEEDY AREAS
So often when you want to start a garden or plant an area, the ground you have available, or want to use, has been neglected for some time and is covered in weeds. Well, that isn't a problem.
You can get a new area ready for planting without any weeding or digging first!
Instead of cutting the weeds away and then digging or tilling, just put down a layer of cardboard over the weedy or grass-covered ground.
You can get cardboard at the recycling center, or you can also use newspaper. If you opt for newspaper, use a thickness of 3 to 4 sheets.
Here's what to do:
1. First, cover the ground with the cardboard and then wet the cardboard thoroughly. You don't want dry cardboard, or else it will wick moisture from the soil we are going to put on top.
2. On top of the wet cardboard, spread a 2 to 3 inch (5 to 7.5 cm) layer of organic mulch, or a weed-free potting soil that has lots of good organic material in it.
3. Wait for at least two weeks to allow the grass and weeds under the cardboard to decompose.
4. When you're ready to plant, using your trowel, just push through the mulch and cardboard down into the moist soil underneath. Dig a hole and set your seedlings in place.
5. When you're done planting, you can put more mulch on the cardboard as needed.
The cardboard will break down fairly quickly and worms love it.
Depending upon the time of year, and the climate you live in, it will only take a couple of months, sometimes up to a year, for the cardboard to break down and decompose completely.
The good news is that once the cardboard is gone, because the weeds haven't had a chance to grow or get established because the cardboard stopped them, the area stays fairly weed-free. Just keep adding mulch as you continue your garden and you'll be just fine.
Questions and Comments Received From This Article:
Question: What if you have some established plants in a weedy garden? Can you still use the cardboard but leave the plants?
Answer: Hi Katie! Yes, you can do this. In this instance, sometimes using the layers of newspaper, as mentioned above, is easier because you can cut out the paper to fit in between the plants easier than the cardboard.
Just make sure you leave some space between the newspaper and the established plants so you don't smother the exisiting plant material.
Thanks for bringing this up, Hilary
Question: Can I use plastic instead of carboard when planting over weedy areas?
Answer: Hi Pamela! You can use plastic to solarize the soil, and then remove it. Leaving plastic on is not always a good idea. Leaving the cardboard on is OK because it will decompose and add organic material to the soil.
Here is a bit more information for you:
Talks about how to use plastic properly to solarize the soil
All About Mulch
Goes over black plastic and cardboard and how to use it
Hope this helps, Hilary
Question: Good tip using cardboard boxes for weedy areas, what if I wanted to plant a lawn or quick growing garden covers in a weedy area?
Answer: Hi Peter! You could definitely do lawn or ground cover.
The cardboard is going to smother the weeds by depriving them of light and air. The cardboard is then going to decompose over time, so the new lawn's roots will eventually make it into the soil underneath whether you use sod or seed.
If seeding or sodding lawn, the soil on top of the cardboard will provide a good base for lawn seed to germinate, or the sod's roots to get established.
If planting ground cover, you will plant as suggested in the article above by planting through the cardboard and planting into the soil under the cardboard.
If it were me, I would go ahead and do it.
Good question, Hilary
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Most shrubs can grow in both sun and shade to varying degrees.
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Be sure to double check the amount of light you have available to the shrubs you are planning to plant so you are happy with the outcome.