Summer is here and gardens are all abloom. Unfortunately, your herbs and veggies aren’t the only things that love this time of year. Garden invaders, like sorrel, clover, and crabgrass are growing strong too.

Of course, sometimes, it can be hard to tell which are actually weeds, and which might be highly useful and healthy plants. While most people would agree that weeds are unwanted additions to a lawn or garden that invade the landscape and take up valuable water and nutrients, actually defining the specific difference between a weed and a regular plant can be a little more complicated. In general, a weed can be characterized that anything a gardener believes is an annoying, unwelcome plant. Even flora like wild violetscan technically be considered a weed, although some appreciate the hints of color they bring to their yard or garden. That’s why perceptions about common weeds are largely up to the individual.

1. Pull them out

Sure this sounds simple, but anyone who has tried to keep up with weeds by pulling them knows that it’s not always so easy. For weeds close to your herbs or veggies in raised beds and containers, it’s often the best way to go. The best time to pull weeds is when the soil is still moist from watering. Pull slowly from the base of the weed to get the best chance of pulling a root out and make sure to use garden gloves for spiny plants like thistles. Some weeds that have more of a fibrous root system are still fairly easy to remove yet are less messy if pulled when the garden soil begins to dry slightly. Another good way to curb your weed population is to remove them when they are young before they have had the chance to go to seed.

You can collect all the weeds you’ve pulled and add them to you compost pile, so they’re actually contributing to the health of your garden. If you picked up a field guide, be sure to keep it with you so that you can identify any weeds you might want to keep that you didn’t notice previously.

2. Suffocate them

Just like the plants you actually want in your garden beds, weeds have a hard time surviving without adequate sunlight. You can kill existing weeds, prevent new ones from growing, AND help keep moisture in the soil for the plants you do want using a little bit of old newspaper and some garden mulch. Simply cover the area with several layers of large newspaper strips (newspaper is biodegradable), then put enough mulch on top of the paper to cover it completely.

If some strong weeds manage to push through your first attempt, just add another layer of newspaper and then some more mulch. The result will be suffocated weeds and no more growth of these unwanted plant companions.

3. Mix up some homemade herbicide

Chemical herbicides are a bad idea for all, but you can make your own homemade herbicide without chemicals fairly easy. Get a good quality spray bottle and fill it with 2 cups of white vinegar, a half cup of salt and a tiny bit of dish soap. Make sure you mix it up very well so that the salt dissolves as much as possible, or the spray bottle might get clogged up. Be careful using this remedy near your garden beds because it could kill your veggies as well. If you’re having trouble with the sprayer getting clogged you can also try a 50/50 vinegar and water solution.

4. Scald them

The next time you’re boiling potatoes or pasta, instead of dumping the water down the drain, dump it right onto the weeds growing in the cracks of your sidewalk or patio or along garden paths. You’ll need to do it right away, however, as the water needs to be boiling or close to it for it to work. Be careful of your hands and feet, and keep children and pets away. Go slowly and concentrate when carrying the hot container. Don’t try this method with garden beds as it will damage the quality of your soil and kill anything it touches.

5. Salt Them

This is another method you need to be very careful with and is best for areas where you don’t want anything to grow again, ever. But a simple sprinkling of salt along the edges of your lawn, between cracks in the sidewalk or in garden pathways will kill weeds. Be careful, though, it leaves the soil barren and can damage concrete. At the end of the snowy season, you can usually get a pretty good deal on rock salt, which works great for this, but any kind of salt will do.

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