Weed Free Gardening the Natural Way

Weed Free Gardening the Natural Way

Weed Free Gardening…is that even possible?

Weeds…the bane of every gardener’s existence.  Rather than waiting for them to show up, let me show you how to get ahead of the game with “Weed Free Gardening the Natural Way”!

Understanding what kills weeds and grass permanently, before you even plant, will save you hours of needless work pulling weeds in the garden this year.  Fewer weeds means that you’ll be able to grow more of your own food this year!

The best and most sustainable weed killer is also the most natural and non-toxic way to kill weeds in your vegetable garden.

no-till garden for weed control

Weed Free Gardening: Stop Tilling Your Garden

Understanding your enemy is the key to winning any battle.

How do weeds begin in your garden and how can you stop them from taking hold?

Weed seeds are everywhere, just looking for an opportunity to germinate.  Most of the weeds we deal with lie just below the surface of our soil.  These weed seeds will lie dormant, unless and until they are given the right conditions to germinate.  These conditions are oxygen and sunlight.

When you till your garden, you bring all of those weed seeds to the surface and give them the conditions they need to not only germinate but multiply.  This is why you should never till your garden, unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

When you till your garden every year, even for weed control in your rows periodically, you are exasperating your weed problem!

If you must till your garden i.e. you’re digging a new garden plot and the soil is difficult, then you should take steps to kill the weed seeds that you have just revived.  This is where natural weed control comes into play!

14 Reasons to Grow a Backyard Vegetable Garden

smothering weeds with black plastic on garden

What Kills Weeds Permanently?

The very best way to kill weeds permanently is to use natural weed control, and that is to smother them.

Denying weed seeds what they need to germinate for several weeks at a time is the only way to kill weeds permanently.

This is accomplished with black plastic, placed on your garden bed, about a month before you intend to plant.

The black plastic will draw heat from the sun and make the soil hotter than it would normally be.  Combined with the denial of sunlight and water, weed seeds will die.

This is the method you need to kill weeds naturally and permanently!

Remove the plastic a week or so before you intend to plant and allow rain to bring moisture and oxygen to the soil again.

Growing Green Beans

Growing Lettuce

weed free vegetable garden row

How to Start Seeds Indoors

mulching vegetable garden with newspaper and straw
Source: Pinterest

Mulching:  Natural Weed Control

Once you’ve permanently killed all of your weed seeds, the weeds in your garden should be minimal.

However, birds and the wind will bring weed seeds to your garden again and again.  The key is to deny them what they need to germinate.

Once you’ve planted your garden, you should generously mulch around each and every plant.

Newspaper, cardboard, straw and old burlap work well for mulching your vegetable garden.  Most of the time, you can find these items for free.

Saving shipping boxes from Christmas or other materials throughout the winter is a good way to have enough cardboard once the garden season rolls around. Use a heavy layer of straw to cover the cardboard or newspaper.  Wetting it down initially will help it to set into place.

Newspaper ink is made from soy, so it’s not necessary to be concerned about ink getting in my soil.

All of this mulch is bio-degradable!  Continue to add mulch as needed.  

mulching tomato plants

This will allow a micro-environment to grow, which will make your soil even healthier!

You might see a weed here and there, but by and large, you will have a much more productive, weed-free and enjoyable garden!

Plan and plant your garden (use companion plants as much as possible!).  


hands in garden

But What if It’s Mid-Summer and My Weeds are Out of Control?

Sometimes life just gets in the way of keeping a tidy garden. Cardboard boxes and straw are two of the best weed killers that can save your ailing garden in a flash!

I’ve had great success with cutting strips of cardboard boxes, that fit nicely in your rows, and laying them down over the weeds.

THEN, cover the cardboard with straw.

This will leave you with the weeds in between to contend with, but it’s a great way to “gain some ground”….

(Pun intended!)

Remember, when it comes to weeds, DENY what they need to germinate and you’ll stay ahead of pulling weeds!

Stopping weed growth, before it gets started, is the strategy for weed free gardening!



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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Great tips! We’re using sawdust to mulch this year-leaves/straw always blow away to the next county! I used card board boxes from the grocery store, then lasagna layered-it sure made for some beautiful soil!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Jessie, that’s a great idea! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Beth

    There are quite a few things I plant together in the chicken patch so they’ll keep them weed free and well manured -potatoes and, rhubarb are great for this. Corn once it gets tall and tomatoes before they ripen are fine being chicken-gardened as well. Also carrots and parsnip, leeks, onions, garlic. They won’t eat any of that. Of course, the other side of the coin is the chicken wire enclosed green veg patch that the little feathery bastards keep managing to break into!

    1. Beth

      PS, If you have an area that sprouts weeds but isn’t somewhere that you’ll be growing plants, like a pathway or gravel driveway, just watering it with salt water is the best way to prevent new weeds coming though. Nothing will grow in salty earth, just make sure you re-salt it after each big rainstorm. I just sprinkle salt heavily on the path before the rain, and let nature water it in.

      1. Kelly

        Hi Beth, Great advice, thanks for reading and sharing!

  3. Donna

    Im trying straw gardening for the first time this year

    1. Kelly

      Hey Donna! I think you’re going to be very pleased with the results!

  4. Mary G.

    The weeds are multiplying faster then I can clear them out. My husband tilled the garden repeatedly and we had late frost this year.
    What do I do now to try to get a handle on the bumper crop of weeds, creeping buttercup. And some kind of vine. I’m in the garden almost daily trying to weed and control my tomatoes and squash plants. I do have two plater boxes that have helped some.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Mary! This has been a weird garden season, I hear it from people all the time! The rain has been so bad in parts of the country that dormant weeds have been resurfacing, some that are even toxic! Repeated tilling doesn’t help either. So, what to do this year? I would first of all, take it easy on yourself. It’s been a tough one this year. Second, mulch like crazy, using cardboard and straw! (Check out the pictures on the post). And look forward to a better start next year. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Georgia K

    I do this too and it works wonderfully!!!

    1. Kelly

      Hey Georgia,

      Isn’t it amazing how much time you save by NOT weeding all the time?

  6. Fiona Littlewood

    Would newspapers and then manure on top work in the same way to suppress weeds? Our land is very poor and we need to give it some nutrients.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Fiona! Manure contains a lot of weed seeds that will defeat what you’re trying to accomplish. If it were me, I would apply your manure before planting and then cover with a tarp or black plastic, as described in the post for at least a month, longer if possible, when the weather is warm. This will kill the weed seeds in your soil. Then go ahead and plant as usual, using your newspaper, cardboard, etc.

      I hope that answers your question!

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