I avoid toxic chemicals so keeping my garden weed-free involves, mulching, growing ground covers, pulling weeds manually and trying to never let a weed go to seed. When we first moved into our house there was one corner where the previous owner had brought in some sand. That area was filled with Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, a weed whose roots run deep. Since it would be awhile before I could garden that corner of the yard, I covered the area with newspapers, then I carefully covered the area with black plastic. I mulched the top, laid rocks on the top and let the area rest for a year or maybe it was two. My purpose was to block light and water from the bindweed. When I eventually removed the plastic all that was left were a few roots. I removed them and that took care of the bindweed. The picture below is the area where bindweed dominated. It would have been terrible to plant in that area with bindweed.
Roses, bellflowers, painted daisies, the variegated Heliopsis Loraine Sunshine. Notice my painted window. The wall was so plain, I took an old window and painted it from the inside with ordinary acrylic paints.
Back to weeds: I mulch xeric plants with pea gravel. The gravel holds a little moisture and is small enough not to compete with the low growing plants. Many xeric plants have a hard time with larger wet mulches. In my front boulevard garden I used pea gravel which turned out to be filled with foxtail grass seed. Ugh! So for years I have been hand pulling this shallow rooted grass. What a pain. But, this spring I am having a “eureka” moment! I recently was going over my Gardens Alive catalog and noticed they have a product call WOW (without weeds) It is 100% corn gluten. It doesn’t hurt existing plants or grass but prevents weeds and unwanted grasses from spouting. You spread it at 3 cups per 100 sq ft. The recommended time of first use is at the time that unprotected jonquils are blooming. Unprotected because plants that are near walls bloom earlier. WOW is corn gluten which is 60% protein and has the added benefit of being a fertilizer by making nitrogen available as the product decomposes. I also plan to use the WOW on my two little bits of lawn. For dandelions the WOW can be applied at different times. I am excited to use this product. My jonquils are only about 3” tall. So in a few days I will be taking care of those future weeds.