Weeds are a given. They’re a true guaranteed item in a field of gardening and lawn care variables. In lawn care, common sense turf practices and herbicides can be used to create a relatively weed free part of the landscape. In landscape beds, we turn to mulch.
The key to mulch effectiveness is to apply it BEFORE weeds such as crabgrass, foxtail, goosegrass and prostrate spurge begin their growth, not afterwards. Oh sure, if it is applied after they have popped up, some will be killed in a smothering action, but it’s best to think before not after.
Many products can be used for mulch – each with pros and cons:
Wood chips – usually colored and bagged in a variety of colors, but can be purchased in bulk
Stump grindings – usually free, obtained after a tree stump is ground out
Corn cobs – usually colored and bagged in a variety of colors
Pine straw – best if obtained after a pine tree is removed
Cocoa bean hulls – wonderful aroma, but pricey
Cotton seed hulls – interesting texture and pricey
Rubber pellets – available in various colors, but add excessive heat to the landscape bed
Preemergence herbicides such as Preen, Barricade and Balan can also be used in combination with mulch. These are best applied before the application of the mulch, but can also be used over top of the mulch if it has already been applied.