Control Garden Weeds by Controlling Weed Seeds

Source(s): Wayne McLaurin, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture, The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Control of weed seed production and spread will provide effective control of weeds in the garden. A wise gardener once told me, “One year of seeds and you can count on seven years of weeds”. He was telling me that if I let the weeds in my garden mature and produce seeds, weeds would return and haunt me for the next seven years! (He was right!).


Weeds are your garden’s enemies. They rob precious water and nutrients from your garden plants. They harbor insects and diseases. They compete for light. And most of all, they cause you untold work trying to keep them under control.

Actually, the best method of garden weed control is the easiest – don’t let them grow! Garden weeds are going to seed, so now is a crucial time to remove weeds from your garden. Pull them, hoe them, mow them, or whatever; but just make sure weeds don’t remain in the garden area to produce seeds.

Three other controls of weed seed that might be helpful:

  • Weed seed can come in when you incorporate manure in the garden. Many weeds’ seeds pass through the animal without being digested and will be in the manure. Composting the manure will reduce the problem.
  • Mulch materials can harbor weed seed, too. Try to use sterile-free mulch materials, which don’t contain weed seeds.
  • Many of the books you read say to dig the garden deep. Well, this is good in one way – it buries the weed seed deep. But at the same time, deep digging brings up weed seeds that haven’t seen the light for many years. Many can live 10 to 12 years and then germinate when conditions are right.

The best thing, though, is to remove the weeds. Pull, hoe, chop, rototill, mulch, bury, burn, eat (yes, purslane is eaten by many groups) or destroy them in some manner.

And that same wise man also said, “Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.” For the gardener, the enemies are the weeds. For that perfect garden next year, get the weeds out this year.

Resource(s): Mulching Vegetables

Center Publication Number: 252

Wayne McLaurin
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