Weeding and mulching are two important aspects of good perennial care that keep your flower garden attractive, healthy and blooming.
Perennials and Weeds
Weeds are a destructive force in your flower garden. They compete with your plants for sun, water and nutrients. Your flowerbed not only provides enriched loosened dirt, water and nutrients for growing perennials, but it also gives weeds the perfect setting for germination. When you cultivate the soil for perennial care, you bring weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. After you prepare your garden soil for your perennials, leave it alone for a week. Then lightly rake or hoe the surface to stop weeds from growing.
Regular weeding prohibits the weeds from germinating and becoming an overwhelming problem in your garden. Pulling weeds out by hand is the most effective way to get rid of them. For larger gardens you can use a hoe—just take care not to disturb the roots of your perennials. Other tools that are ideal for weeding are the garden trowel and the four pronged cultivator. The cultivator helps break up the soil to make it easier to pull out the weeds. Tough, well-established roots, especially dandelion roots, can be extracted by using the garden trowel to dig it out.
For constant recurring weeds, lay damp newspapers on the ground between the perennial plants. Cover the newspapers with a layer of mulch. The newspapers and mulch stop the weeds from getting sun and water.
Mulch is a beneficial addition to your flower garden. Mulching creates a barrier that keeps the roots of your perennial plants cool with locked-in moisture during the hot dry summer. Organic mulches break down over time giving the soil essential nutrients for perennial plants. While mulch won’t stop the growth of weeds, it will reduce the amount.
Types of Mulch
- Shredded leaves
- Shredded bark
- Pine needles
Always weed before covering flower beds in mulch. Spread a flat layer of mulch 2 to 3 inches thick throughout your flower bed. Place the mulch around and between perennials, but keep it a couple of inches away from the plants. Be careful not to cover the plants with mulch or let it touch the plant stems, as this will lead to too much moisture and could invite disease.
In colder climates, mulching after the ground freezes protects the perennial’s roots from extreme temperature changes. Use dried leaves or straw as mulch in the wintertime. Gradually remove the mulch by scraping it aside in the spring to slowly acclimate the plants to the warmer weather.
Sometimes mulch occasionally needs to be redistributed and replenished. Gently rake the mulch to keep it from packing down in hard rain and prevent weeds from growing. Mixing different kinds of mulch is fine.