Now that winter is setting in, you might think the time for yard work is over. No! There’s still time! “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and nowhere is that more apparent than in your yard. Yes, it’s a bit chilly out now, but on a sunny day, little or no wind, it’s amazing what you can accomplish! “Why?!?” you ask? Because getting rid of weeds now and doing a bit of mulching if you can will give you such a jump on those pesky weeds in the spring.
Best way to weed, anytime: Pull the roots! Unless you know which weeds are perennials and will winter over and get bigger and stronger during the winter, and which ones will die, why chance it? My favorite tool for large weeds with large roots or large weedy areas is my handy spading fork, money well-spent (see photo). Smaller weeds should give up with a poke and a twist from a handheld weed digger.
If your weeds are going to seed, carefully cut them down, do NOT throw them on the ground, but instead, slide them into a garbage bag to avoid scattering as much seed as you can. Then dig the roots. Did you know some weed seeds are viable for 5-6 years? Don’t think about that too much…
My weather forecast shows that I have several good(ish) days for more garden prep, if I go out after noon when the day is at its warmest. Even if you only get half, or even one fourth of the prep done, it’s worth it. Cut back perennials. I use my hedge clippers for most of the cut down, and I use some of the perennial debris as mulch.
Why mulch? Mulch suppresses weeds from germinating. Those that do will have to grow up through the mulch, thus having weak roots that are more easily pulled up later. Mulch breaks down over time, giving back nutrients to the soil. Pine needles, also referred to as pine straw, clean hay (as in, very few grass and weeds in it) pulled apart into “flakes”, clean straw flakes, or dried leaves can all be used as mulch. Have any bags of leaves you raked up? Perfect! Get out in the yard this weekend and after weeding, stomp the heck out of those bags. Two-footed jumping on the bags is excellent aerobic exercise. Your next door neighbor may think you are certifiable. You, on the other hand, have just burned off that piece of cream pie you wish you hadn’t eaten. Mulch 1-2 inches, then water to keep breezes from carrying off your hard work.
You’ve got this. Happy Thanksgiving!