From the Garden: Weed Suppression Tips to Stay Chemical Free

By Erin Breglia

Spring in the Arboretum’s Van Love­land Peren­ni­al Gar­den is a time of dra­mat­ic dis­play, fea­tur­ing an array of ear­ly spring flow­er­ing aconite, chion­o­doxa, cro­cus, and scil­la, fol­lowed by a stun­ning vari­ety of nar­cis­sus, snow­drops, and frit­il­lar­ia. It is also a time to tidy up the beds by rak­ing away the past year’s die back and leaves as well as edg­ing and fer­til­iz­ing to pre­pare for the com­ing months.

Spring is also the time many gar­den­ers find it help­ful” to use chem­i­cals for gar­den upkeep. Rather than risk the loss of their plants by nui­sances, espe­cial­ly weeds, a chem­i­cal prod­uct is applied. Though chem­i­cals are nec­es­sary at times, using them as a first resort is irre­spon­si­ble to both our back­yard ecosys­tem and ourselves.

Over the years, I have had the plea­sure of vis­it­ing many local gar­dens and learned sev­er­al tried and true tips regard­ing nat­ur­al gar­den care. In my expe­ri­ence, one very effec­tive method of weed con­trol is the appli­ca­tion of news­pa­per mulch.

To be suc­cess­ful, weed sup­pres­sion depends on tim­ing, edg­ing, and mulch. When plants wake up in spring, they use their stored ener­gy to send out new leaves and stems that will cre­ate more ener­gy through pho­to­syn­the­sis. Once this first flush has occurred, the plant will have less vig­or. Now is an excel­lent time to weed and edge the beds and then cov­er the area with news­pa­per to sup­press unwant­ed new growth. It is easy to fold the paper around plants and bed edges to get the appro­pri­ate cov­er­age. It is best to use black and white, non-glossy pages in lay­ers 5 pages thick and then sprin­kle with water to mat the paper down. After the paper is laid out, cov­er it with 2” of an organ­ic mulch, com­post, or peat for an addi­tion­al lay­er of suppression.

This process will usu­al­ly last only a sin­gle grow­ing sea­son, so it is safe to put down where spring bulbs have died back. While some gar­den­ers use card­board rather than news­pa­per, I would advise against using non-com­postable mate­ri­als such as plas­tic, dog food bags, or old rugs since they will nev­er decompose.

Con­sid­er join­ing the mem­bers of the Lan­dis Arbore­tum Gar­den Club on Mon­day, April 10, 10 AM to noon, when they spruce up the Van Love­land Peren­ni­al Gar­den. You can appre­ci­ate the ear­ly spring flo­ral dis­play and learn about spring gar­den main­te­nance the nat­ur­al way.

Spring 2017

Volume 35 , Number 2

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Oct 07, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

The Landis community mourns the loss of Anne Donnelly on October 4, 2023

Anne Donnelly was the first of the many friends I’ve made at the Arboretum and... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Update on the Big Tree Search

Landis Arboretum has successfully kicked off its most recent Big Tree Search, and the tree... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Erin McKenna Breglia

From the Garden: Your Autumn Garden Must Haves!

It’s certainly been a rainy summer, but the rain has helped keep our plants green... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Landis Portraits: A Series About the People Behind the Plants at the Arboretum - Chuck Mueller

Chuck Mueller Volunteering, Chuck Mueller said, “is something you have to believe in . ... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Volunteers Celebrate Meeting House Renovation

Shawn Bevins, Jim Paley, Craig Blevins, Fred Breglia, and Peter Bakal On a Sunday afternoon... read more

Oct 01, 2023 | Sam McClary

Apples and Man: A Book Review

Apples and Man, by Fred Lape “Apples and Man,” written by Arboretum founder Fred Lape... read more

News Archive