Tips For Controlling Weeds In A Vegetable Garden

Weeds in a vegetable garden are huge competitors for resources and can overtake seedlings. Learn about how to keep weeds out of your garden.

Gardener Pulling Weeds In The Garden
(Image credit: miskolin)

Controlling weeds in a vegetable garden is important to the health of your plants. Weeds are huge competitors for resources and can overtake vegetable seedlings.

The tenacious nature and ability to seed fast make it quite a chore to stop weeds in a vegetable garden.

Manual control is effective but is a labor-intensive method to keep weeds out of a vegetable garden. A combination of approaches and good initial site preparation are key to vegetable weed control.

Controlling Weeds in a Vegetable Garden

Weeds not only compete for water, nutrients, and growing space but also provide a haven and hiding place for disease and pests. Vegetable weeds controlled early in the season can help prevent these issues and slow the spread of the nuisance plants.

Cultural controls are safe and effective methods of weed control. These may include synthetic or organic mulches, weeding, or hoeing and cover crops. Cover crops fill in the proposed vegetable garden to prevent weeds from taking hold and also add nutrients to the soil when they are tilled in spring.

We are often asked, “What is the best way to weed my vegetable garden?” Depending on the size of your vegetable bed, it is often best to hoe in weeds as long as they haven't gone to seed. Hand weed the ones that have seed heads or you will just be planting them when you hoe.

Weeds are like any other vegetation and will compost into the soil, adding nutrients. Hoeing is easy on the knees and less time-consuming than hand-weeding an entire bed. Keep weeds out of a vegetable garden by hoeing weekly before the plants have time to get big and cause a problem.

Another option is to lay a plastic or thick layer of organic mulch between the rows of vegetables. This will prevent weed seed from taking hold.

Considerations in Weed Control

It is always important to check the labels of any herbicide, even an organic product, to see if it is safe to use around edible plants. Discuss any packaged weed product with your local garden center or extension service agent, and be sure to avoid toxic chemicals in your vegetable garden. Read all labels carefully.

Note: Organic products are safer for humans and other growing plants than toxic chemicals and are more environmentally friendly.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.