How to Cut Down on Weeding This Summer

Weeding Vegetable Garden 

A few months ago a gardener said to me, “I hate going away in the summer for a week vacation because when I come back my garden is taken over by weeds.”

This should not happen. Let me repeat, you should be able to go away for a week and not come home to a garden mess. There are several points during the season where I go on vacation and when I come back, my garden looks pretty much the same, except for surprisingly bigger plants.

There is no such thing as a garden without weeds. But in my opinion, time spent weeding unnecessarily is a complete waste of time and something to be minimized as much as possible. I’d rather be out enjoying my garden in endless other ways than toiling under the hot sun pulling out weeds the size of my arm.

If that’s how you feel, too, here are some tips to cut down on weeding.

vegetable garden


Mulch, mulch and more mulch. I can’t stress it enough, wherever there is bare soil, weeds will grow. The single most effective step you can take towards reducing weeds is to mulch garden beds with hay, straw, or leaves and paths with woodchips. Absolutely no bare soil! I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a whole blog post about mulching.

Get ‘em while they’re young. It’s a daunting task to spend a whole day weeding your garden. Don’t let it get to that point! A little bit of weeding every few days will keep the job manageable.

Having your garden as close to your house and regular traffic patterns as possible will help keep you motivated. I see my front yard garden from my couch, so I have a lot of incentive to keep it looking beautiful.

onions growing in garden

Onions hate weeds! Keep them mulched and they’ll be much happier.

The more you weed, the fewer weeds you’ll have. I’ve seen this in my own garden. If you keep on top of your weeds, after a few years you’ll see the weed pressure diminish. If you always let your garden get out of control in the summer, then you are consistently replenishing the weed seed supply.

With several perennial weeds that spread easily, like thistle and goutweed, we have a zero tolerance policy. We monitor our certain areas of our yard and yank them as soon as we see a baby plant. We do not want them to spread.

Change your expectations. In my ideal world, my gardens have few to no weeds. Sometimes I feel stressed out when a bunch of weeds are popping up throughout my yard. I want my gardening to be as enjoyable as possible, so a few years ago I decided to play a mind game with myself and change my expectations.

I’ve decided to focus on the beauty of my garden and not focus on what isn’t working quite right. Who cares if there are some weeds when I pop out to my front yard to harvest? I revel in the colorful food I’m putting in my basket instead.

The goal of gardening is happiness – so whatever you need to do to evoke as much of it as possible from your garden, do it! Including mind games!

Don’t weed alone. I usually wait for my husband to do major weeding with me. Four hands make quick work of this boring task. If I’m alone and dreading the work, I’ll put in my earbuds and crank up some favorite music or a gardening podcast to keep me company.

Smother instead of pulling. In some areas of my garden I’ve given up trying to pull the weeds. An especially tricky area is where the woodchip perimeter around my garden meets the grass. Grass is always on the move so it’s constantly popping up in the woodchips.

Each spring I lay a thick layer of cardboard along that perimeter and cover with about 12 inches of woodchips. That tidies up the area without a lot of extra work on my part.

Remember, weeds are a part of gardening and there’s no way around them. But, many of the annual weeds that pop up in summer can be easily avoided by adopting some new techniques and habits. (Invasive perennial weeds are a different category and often need to be dug out.)

The result? More time to do the things you love in your garden, and less time spent breaking your back with weeding.

Do you have ways you successfully manage weeds in your garden? Share with us in the comments below.

More summer garden reading:

Easy & Beautiful DIY Garden Trellis

Get a Tour of My July Garden

Summer Minutes with Megan




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