how to keep weeds from growing in raised beds

How to keep weeds from growing in raised beds

Unfortunately, big shovels and big holes disturb more surface area, and replant more seeds. The same goes for seed planting. We use a pick to create long, narrow channels to plant the seeds.

When the soil is left exposed, weed seeds can easily find a path to germinate and grow. But by mulching and protecting the soil, you stop that process instantly.

The less you disturb your soil, the better. That includes when planting transplants in the garden as well. We use a post hole digger to create a clean, 8 to 10″ planting hole that is about 6″ in diameter for our transplants.

Our test gardens here at Old World Garden farms are a testament to that fact. Many visitors to the farm are surprised we spend an extremely small portion of our time keeping the 40 x 60 vegetable garden weed free. As in less than 5 minutes a day in the summer!

#4 Put Away That Hoe and Rake – How To Eliminate Weeds

Weeds truly are the ultimate enemy of gardeners. They are responsible for choking the life from vegetable and flower gardens. All while stealing life-giving nutrients away from our plants.

That leads to our fourth and final point – covering those growing rows in the fall with a cover crop!

But it simply doesn’t have to be that way. Nor does it mean you have to spend endless hours in your garden dealing with them.

#1 – Stop Tilling And Digging In The Spring

Instead of tilling and leaving all of that soil bare, it’s far better to cover it with mulch. Mulching your garden with grass clippings, straw or shredded leaves not only helps to stop weeds, but adds vital nutrients to your soil in the process.

Keeping weeds out of the walking and growing rows is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look.

How to keep weeds from growing in raised beds

If the bottom of the bed was not lined with a weed barrier, or if the barrier has begun to degrade, weeds can be stopped from the top as well. Landscape fabric or newspaper layers can be used between rows of edible or ornamental crops. The layers can be covered with organic mulch, if you wish. Alternately, organic mulch alone, spread to a depth of 2 to 3 inches around plants and between rows, will deter many weeds, as well as helping conserve soil moisture.

The best way to keep weeds from growing up through raised beds is to stop them at the bottom. Before construction begins on the bed, the soil underneath can be treated by a process called soil solarization, which heats soil to a point where many pathogens and weed seeds are destroyed. To solarize soil, cover the bed area with a sheet of heavy, clear plastic, weighted to keep it from blowing away. Keep the plastic in place for at least two months during the hottest part of summer, before removing it to build the bed.

If soil solarization is not a viable strategy, it is still possible to stop weeds before they grow. Before filling a raised bed with soil, line the bottom with landscape fabric, which you can buy at nurseries and garden centers. The fabric is long-lasting and porous, allowing water to pass through while stopping weeds from growing up through it. Though the fabric may be pierced by over-enthusiastic digging, and will eventually break down, it should deter weeds for several years. Though not as long-lasting, newspaper, overlapped and laid several layers thick, can also line the raised bed’s bottom.

Raised bed gardening is a way to make it easier to reach garden beds, overcome poor soil and provide maximum yields of food crops in minimal space. The beds may be raised as little as 6 to 8 inches or as much as several feet, but elevation alone cannot prevent weed seeds from finding their way in. Weeds sometimes work their way up from underlying soil, but may also land on the bed, borne by wind or other means.

Additional Barriers

Despite soil solarization and weed barriers above and below, a few weeds will persist in sprouting, especially close to planting holes where the soil has been disturbed and barriers pierced to allow plant growth. Weed seeds sometimes arrive on the wind or are present in the soil mix. Beds should be no more than 4 feet wide to make elimination of these weeds possible without stepping on and compacting the soil. Check for weeds regularly. Weeding is most effective when the intrusive plants are young and easy to uproot, but should always be done before they flower and set seed.

Weed Barriers

How to keep weeds from growing in raised beds

Mulch with straw, grass clippings, leaves, or wood chips after planting your garden. This will reduce the amount of weeding you’ll have to do and keep the soil moist.

Mulch After Planting

The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Plan Your Irrigation System

Traditional in-ground gardens are great, but there’s something to be said for raised bed gardens—it allows you to grow more food in less space, tailor the soil precisely to your needs, and decreases the amount of space for weeds to grow wild. Plus, the soil in a raised bed warms earlier in the spring than in-ground garden beds, so you can get planting sooner. They allow you to garden without fighting stones and roots, and the soil in them is easy to amend each season. With the addition of low tunnels, raised beds also help extend the season when frost threatens.