7 Natural Methods for a Weed-Free Garden


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Are you tired of weeding before gardening season even starts? Use these 7 methods of natural weed control to establish a weed free garden! If you’re as tired of weeding your garden as I am, then you need these tips in your life.

cabbage, marigolds, and other garden vegetables planted close together and mulched for a weed free garden

7 Methods of Natural Weed Control

Using natural methods for weed control in the garden offers numerous benefits over chemical alternatives. Natural methods are environmentally friendly. They reduce harmful impacts on soil, water, and pollinators.

Natural approaches promote long-term soil health by adding nutrients back into the vegetable garden or flower beds.

Natural methods are especially important when you’re growing edible plants. The last thing you want is chemicals or residues to contaminate your fresh veggies.

Cultivate a healthier and more robust garden this growing season with these next tips for keeping your garden weed free. You can even involve the kids in your weeding problems.

1. Thick Black Plastic as Weed Barrier

I have learned over the years that weeds will quickly overtake my garden if I’m not proactive. I can see the little weeds first thing in the spring. They’re the first living things to appear in my garden!

I’ve watched with interest as other gardeners cover their gardens with thick black plastic to prevent the perennial weeds from coming up in the first place. This year I finally did it myself.

plastic weed barrier in a large garden

Cover your garden with black plastic in the fall if you’re on the ball, or in the spring like me if you’re not. This year, I covered a lot of my garden with an 8 mm black poly that I bought at Menards. I also used old tarps that my husband found somewhere. Probably the trash. 😉

I did cover my raised beds with cardboard in the fall, but for my main garden area, I used the black plastic and other tarps. I just can’t come up with that much cardboard or find an effective way to keep it safe in our windy climate.

2. Mulch for Weed Control in Garden

Mulching your garden is one of the best things you can do for it. Not only does it keep weeds down, it also keeps moisture in. If you don’t already, start mulching your garden immediately.

I also like to use a two-pronged attack in my garden bed by first laying down cardboard or newspapers and then putting mulch on top of everything. Use thick layers of mulch to kill weeds.

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woman planting onion sets in soil

3. Plant Thickly to Prevent Weeds in Garden

A great way to have a weed free garden is to plant your veggies quite thickly. If your soil is full of nutrients it will support more. As you thin plants out to give other veggies room to grow, you gain food at the same time! For instance, plant carrots and radishes together. The radishes will grow (and mature) more quickly. As the carrots need the space, harvest and eat the radishes!

4. Adopt the No-Till Gardening Method

This is something I have had to work really hard to convince my husband we need to do. I’m not honestly sure why, even most of the commercial farmers around here don’t till anymore. But for some reason, Dan thinks we must till.

Unfortunately, tilling your garden destroys the soil organism habitat and beneficial fungal networks that healthy soil needs. It also brings all the common weed seeds front and center making it easier for them to grow!

We are in the process of establishing permanent no-till beds throughout my garden and making permanent walk-ways. We’re also not tilling any more. After years of tilling, it will be a transition, but it’s one I’m very excited about making!

flowers for the garden

5. Add Lots of Flowers 

This goes along with planting thickly, but it’s also great for companion planting. Flowers provide needed food for the lovely bees, but they also ward off harmful insects. They also enhance production and flavor of some veggies. Read my companion planting guide and make sure to add lots of flowers to your garden this year.

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6. Water Individual Plants and not the Whole Garden

Weeds also need water to grow, so not watering areas where there are no veggies can help keep weeds down. Instead of sprinkling the entire garden, install drip irrigation around only your vegetables. This is something I need to do better in my garden this year. I rarely water my garden, but when I do, it’s via sprinkler to the entire plot.

7. Pull Weeds when They’re Tiny

If you pull weeds when they’re very small, they will come out a lot easier than if you want until they’re 10 feet tall with 8 foot roots. I know, I’ve had HUGE weeds in my garden in the past (like last year). Also, when you pull weeds out when they’re very tiny, they won’t have gone to seed. Getting them before they go to seed will be much better for you in the long run. I personally love my loop hoe. It does a fabulous job of pulling tiny weeds out by their roots.

8. Organic Weed Preventer

Last year when I was at Moss Mountain Farm, P Allen Smith mentioned that he uses an organic weed preventer to prevent crabgrass, dandelions, and other weeds. I have never tried this method, but it sounds intriguing to me. If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Essentially, you sprinkle this on your lawns and garden, much as a conventional farmer uses a chemical pre-emerge. It prevents weeds from growing in the first place. If you use an organic pre-emerge, be careful. I have read that it won’t let ANYTHING grow, so sprinkle it around already established plants, and NOT in areas where you intend to plant seeds.

3 kids leaning over box of fresh vegetables in a vegetable garden

Does Hand Weeding Cause Weeds to Spread?

No. Hand weeding is a very effective type of weeding for smaller areas. It is easy to pull small weeds out by the roots without disturbing other plants. If you have a large garden plot, though, it is not an efficient method.

How to Keep Weeds from Sprouting in My Paths?

Use materials like gravel, wood chips, or cardboard covered with mulch in your pathways to prevent weeds. Regularly refresh the mulch layer.

Are Organic Herbicides Safe to Use?

Yes, there are safe organic herbicides available for weed control. Organic herbicides use natural, plant-based oils, acids, or salts as weed killers.

Although organic herbicides should not pollute the soil or leave residue on the plants, it’s still important to follow label directions carefully. It will take several applications to control the weeds.

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These 7 methods of natural weed control will free you from spending all your time weeding and help you establish a weed free garden! If you're as tired of weeding your garden as I am, then you need these tips for a weed free garden.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. These are great tips and who doesn’t want an easy way to keep weeds at bay. It’s funny about the tilling issue. My parents had a huge garden growing up and they tilled it every year. Now I read everywhere that the practice is no longer a good idea. Things are always changing. I like the idea of adding flowers. Since I mainly only grow flowers I think I need to flip it and add some veggies to my flowers. It’s been a long winter and I can’t wait to get out in the garden.

    1. Old habits die hard, for sure! I’m excited to see what veggies you add to your flowers this year, Patti!

  2. Love these tips and I can vouch for most of them. Our garden is SO much easier to maintain now with these helpful weed free methods. Dave also loved to rototill every spring. Just something about that freshly tilled soil I think. Fortunately his tiller died a few years ago. Then he became willing to try the plastic mulch method. SO much easier now and the plants love it too!

  3. These are great tips. I cover my garden each year in the early spring with black plastic and I no longer till. It has made such a big difference in weeds in our garden. I also apply a thick layer of mushroom compost each year too. It helps to keep the weeds down and feed the garden too.

  4. Yay, I’m so glad you’re using the plastic and letting go of the till!! I think you will be pretty happy with the results. 🙂

    I have used the corn gluten meal years ago when it first came out (I think from Gardens Alive). It was really orangey-yellow, so didn’t look too good on my dark compost covering my pretty beds and it clumped up after rains. I don’t know if it worked, but it sure didn’t look good!