How To Keep Weeds Out Of Flower Beds

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Are constant weeds ruining the look of your flower beds, and you’re looking for a way to keep them out?

I understand because I have fought this battle for years!

Fortunately, I now know that keeping weeds at bay is not impossible when you understand the tricks for prepping your flower bed and preventing weeds from taking root.

Luckily, I put all the information you need inside this guide, so you can incorporate the steps necessary to achieve impressive, weed-free flower beds in your garden!

Preparing Your Flower Bed

Step 1 – Weeding

The first step to combat weeds in your flower bed is to prepare the area before you plant by clearing as much grass or growth off the soil surface.

After you clear the soil, consider raising the flower bed. 

Why?

The trick to achieving weed-free flower beds is to start with raised planter beds whenever possible. 

Raising the surface of the soil allows you to create a barrier between the weed and grass infested ground that is hard to clear otherwise (more on that technique below).

Raising my flower beds was a real game-changer when it came to battling weeds. My system for creating flower beds to deter weed growth continues from the first step as follows:

Step 2 – Build A Barrier

Start by laying bricks, rocks, or paver stones around the perimeter of your flower bed. You can also use wood or other material that suits the aesthetic of your landscaping.

I typically raise my beds around six inches, so I have plenty of soil to support the blossoming flowers I will plant inside.

You can dig a trench and lay your edging in so it remains level and secure, or you can follow my lead and lay stones that follow the contour of the surface. The key here is to build up the sides so you can build up the center with soil.

Step 3 – Lay Fabric

Create a ground barrier by laying down landscape fabric inside the perimeter of your flower bed. I recycle sheets of cardboard or several layers of newspaper for this purpose and find it works just as effectively as commercially-sold weed-barrier fabric.

Related | Using Cardboard As A Weed Barrier

In fact, in low-soil-depth flower beds, the plant roots may have a hard time growing through a plastic or fiber weed-barrier fabric to reach the nutrients in the soil below. 

Either tuck the material under the edges of your flower bed or place it right up to the perimeter. You need to avoid gaps where weeds can pop through.

This step is critical to choke off the growth of any hidden seeds or root growth from weeds and grass. By the time the newspaper or cardboard disintegrates, they have cut off the sunlight and oxygen to kill off offending weeds. 

Step 4 – Fill With Soil

Fill the flower bed with fresh soil, using precaution to ensure it doesn’t contain seeds that could germinate into weeds, which sounds daunting but isn’t that hard.

You can purchase bags of garden soil from home improvement centers if your budget allows.

Many commercial garden soils sold are typically steam-heated to destroy pathogens and seeds, so the flowers you plant inside have a better chance to remain disease and weed-free.

What If Buying A Large Amount Of Soil Isn’t Feasible?

If you have the time, another option is to use soil solarization to accomplish the same result using the soil you already have on your property. This option is also a good choice when you want to plant your flower bed directly on the ground.

To use the sun to sterilize your soil, till, rake, and water your flower bed area. Cover the area with clear, thick-mil plastic sheeting. Stake or weigh down the edges to keep wind and critters from getting underneath. 

Let it sit for eight weeks, which is the average time it takes to generate enough heat underneath to kill off weed seeds. If you live in an exceptionally sunny and warm climate, this process may only take four to six weeks. 

Remove the plastic, rake through the soil, and plant your flowers.

What About Adding Compost To The Soil?

Adding compost to flower bed soil is a no-brainer for gardeners who want extra nutrition to boost plant health and amount of blooms. 

While compost can contain weed seeds, the heat inside a well-tended compost pile should kill them off. 

If you want to make sure your compost isn’t harboring potential weeds, you can lay it out on some plastic and use the soil solarization technique.

Step 5 – Plant Your Flowers

Now that your bed is ready with a weed barrier and clean soil, you can plant your flowers. 

As you watch your new garden flourish, remember that you aren’t off the hook yet if you wish to keep weeds out of flower beds! 

How To Prevent Weeds In Flower Beds

Properly preparing a flower bed goes a long way in keeping weeds away, but it can only buy you time since nature has other plans. 

Weed seeds can quickly transfer to your flower bed by the wind and through bird or animal droppings. At this stage, the best way to keep your flower beds weed-free is to keep a sharp eye out for new growth and to follow these preventative measures below.

1. Tilling

Regularly breaking up the soil surface around your flowers will prevent seedlings from taking root.

Since most flower beds are smaller with the plants close to each other, the best way to till is to use a garden claw. You can get a hand tool, use these nifty garden genie gloves, or use one with a long handle if you prefer to stay off your hands and knees. 

When you run over your flower bed soil once a week with a claw or any other tool to till up the top couple inches of soil, you will stop weeds in their tracks.

It takes only a few minutes to accomplish this task, but avoiding it can lead to hours of painstaking weed pulling or ugly, weed-overgrown flower beds.

2. Mulching

Laying down three to four inches of wood mulch around your flowers is another great way to prevent weeds from growing. The mulch will block out the sun over open soil, so seeds can’t germinate.

Just remember that mulch will also need regular tilling to break up any weeds that may take hold since there are plenty of gaps for seeds to catch in and grow.

3. Hand Weeding

After tilling, I do an occasional hand weeding session when I see offending weeds in my flower beds. With proper soil preparation, any small weeds pop out with little to no effort, so catching them early is crucial.

Take a walk around your flower beds every day or so to admire your beautiful flowers and to scan for new weeds popping up. Pull out those babies when you see them. It only takes a second.

If you do forgo weed maintenance on your flower bed for any length of time, a good knife or weed puller works effectively to remove mature weeds from the root.

Related | Best Weed Pullers

4. Chemical Treating

You can opt to use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weed seeds from germinating, but products like Preen or Miracle-Gro Weed Preventer will do nothing to kill established weeds, even seedlings.

If you wish to take this route, start right away when your flower bed is already free of weeds and reapply per the manufacturer’s instructions to keep them away. 

5. Protect The Soil From Sunlight

Flowers flourish in sunlight, with their foliage spreading to increase exposure. Take advantage of this natural soil sunlight blocker by initially planting flowers close together, so they form a tight barrier as they begin to spread. 

By keeping sunlight off the soil below, weeds won’t have the light they need to grow. Any weeds that do manage to take hold will be weak and easy to pull.

Many people prefer to let their flowers, especially perennial varieties, spread out naturally, which means spending less money on plants. 

I have found that packing my flower beds full of plants keeps the weeds away and, in a short time, allows me to thin out and transplant overgrowth into new planters, which is a win-win!

In Summary

You don’t have to battle weeds to enjoy colorful, flower-filled landscaping beds that increase the beauty and curb appeal of your home.

When you use the tips in this guide on how to keep weeds out of flower beds, you’ll see a real difference in how much time and energy it takes to keep your flower beds looking amazing!