A dedicated herb garden can supply enough fresh herbs for your kitchen, but weeds can greatly minimize the health and production of the plants. Herbicides aren't suitable for herb gardens, because the available products can also kill the herbs and may not be safe to use on the plants you eat. Fortunately, it's possible to kill and prevent weeds in an herb garden without using chemicals. Spending a few minutes each week on weed management prevents these invasive plants from establishing in your garden.
1 Turn the soil with a spade to turn over any weeds before planting the herb garden. Dig up and remove the entire root systems of any perennial weeds so they can't regrow. Pull any weeds that have gone to seed by hand and avoid scattering the seeds onto the soil, where they may germinate and become a problem later.
2 Break up the top 1 to 2 inches of soil in the herb garden once each week. Pull a hoe or a handheld cultivator down the row and between the plants so any young weeds are uprooted and destroyed before they have a chance to establish.
3 Pull up larger weeds or weeds growing near the base of an herb plant by hand. Grasp the weed near its base and pull it straight up so you also remove the entire root system. Dispose of the weeds promptly so they don't drop seeds or root again in the garden bed.
4 Cover the bed with a 2-inch layer of mulch, such as bark chips or straw. Mulch prevents sunlight from reaching the soil, which minimizes weed germination and suppresses the growth of young weeds. Pull any weeds that penetrate the mulch promptly by hand.
5 Trim off the old flowers on herb plants as soon as they begin to wilt if you allow your herbs to flower. Dispose of the old flowers immediately. Herbs sometimes self-seed in the garden and become weedy when they spread to unwanted areas.
Items you will need
- Handheld cultivator
- Plastic mulch can eliminate most weeds in an annual herb garden, but it doesn't offer the longevity needed for perennial herbs. Cover the soil with plastic before planting and cut holes only for the desired plants. You can use landscape fabric in a similar way for perennial herbs.
- Wear gloves when pulling weeds. Some weed plants have thorns or cause skin irritation.
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