The Q&A Archives: Eliminating weeds in garden

Question: We moved into our house a little over a year ago. We waited to see what would come up in our garden. It turned out that the only thing living there was weeds. There were numerous kinds including wild blackberries. I spent a lot of time in the fall pulling these vines out of the ground. We are thinking about planting flowers or vegetables in the area. There is a thin layer of mulch on top of the hard soil. The area gets a lot of the afternoon sun. My questions - is there something that I can use that will kill everything that is there now, but will allow for future flower or plant life? Do I get rid of the mulch now to better try to get to the bottom of the weed problem? I don't have any problems with using any specific chemicals as long as it doesn't cause problems with future plantings. Thanks for your help.

Answer: Before planting you will want to eliminate the weeds, loosen the soil and work in organic matter such as compost, level the soil, and eventually plant. You can hand dig the weeds taking the roots, but some perennial weeds can regrow from any piece of root left in the soil. You could use an herbicide containing glyphosate to kill out the weeds. Be sure to carefully read and follow all of the label directions. Once the weeds have died, you can rake aside and save the mulch to re-use later as mulch, or you can dig it into the soil as a form of organic matter. You should also run some basic soil tests to check fertility levels and pH. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. Good luck with your new garden!

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