Weeds are pretty high on the list of things that annoy us as gardeners. They can grow persistently and it takes time that we simply do not always have to eradicate them. There is always the option of commercial weed killing products, but you may not want to use those in your garden. So what’s a gardener to do about weeds?

One way to combat weeds is by mulching. You can use a heavy layer of grass clippings, straw, pine needles, and much more to create a barrier against weeds. As from fighting weed, mulch has many garden benefits including helping with moisture retention and reducing fungus. If you’d rather keep mulching to a minimum, you can do so by using newspaper. Place yesterday’s news atop soil and follow up with a thin layer of mulch to tell weeds to take a hike. When it comes time to plant, just punch a hole through the paper where your plant is to go. The same effect can also be achieved with plastic but it will dry rot over time and needs to be removed at the end of your growing season.

Another useful item when it comes to weed prevention is cardboard. Though it does a good job of resisting weed growth, it can be difficult for water to reach the soil through a layer of cardboard. It is also harder to tear holes in for planting purposes, so you might want to do this in advance of laying it down. The good thing about cardboard is that it is plentiful (old pizza boxes, packages that came in the mail, etc.) and is useful in creating garden walkways as well as stopping weed growth.

A substance that lacks the commercial chemicals but still kills weeds is vinegar. The problem with that is vinegar will also kill any other plants it comes in contact with. To use it, put some in a spray bottle and spray only the target weeds you wish to eradicate. Be sure to use caution not to get it on any plants you wish to keep or else they, too, will be departing. In much the same manner as vinegar, you can use boiling water. Simply make a deliberate pour where you wish it to go to work killing weeds. Boiling water will cook and kill the target plant, making it no longer a presence in your garden. However, in addition to killing weeds, boiling water can also take out the plants you wish to keep, not to mention severely burning you if you are not careful.

You can also use your plants themselves as a defense against weeds by planting in a pattern than chokes out weeds. Since weeds need sunlight to thrive as other plants do, avoid row planting and instead plant in blocks. This will make sunlight less available to weeds, instead forcing them to grow in the shade which will greatly reduce both weed numbers and weed health.

Although the fact of the matter is that weeds will never be completely gone, there are many things you can do to heavily impact their growth. What does peek through can easily be removed with the swipe of a hand as opposed to all day spent on your hands and knees pulling away. Give one or more of the methods above a try and chances are you’ll be happily eating from a garden that is in large part weed free.