Your worst enemy is the war against weeds. If your new plants aren’t visited by pests, weeds will keep you on your toes. Grasses and weeds will compete for moisture and nutrients. In some cases, having long grass around is beneficial for shelter from wind. However, it is still preferable to have an area free of weeds around the plant. This can be achieved in several ways:
- Handweeding - Dare I say it! Very effective but very time consuming.
- Mulching - Not only does it keep weeds down, but retains moisture in summer and warmth in winter. Don’t mulch in the middle of a dry spell, it will have the reverse effect. Use straw (not hay as it contains many weed seed heads), leaves, rotted manure, grass clippings, sawdust or shredded bark. If using the latter two, you must add some side dressing when mulching and keep onto it later as the bark will deplete the soil of nitrogen whilst breaking down.
- Weedmat - Buy in long strips for large bank or garden plantings. Ensure your soil is well cultivated and fed before laying down. Never use black polythene, it will result in a ‘stale’ soil.
- Chemicals- There are pros and cons. You should always check with your chemical supplier for rates, plant tolerance etc, as there are many chemicals for many uses. Roundup and Buster are two commonly used herbicides for gardeners, but again, get information regarding safe spraying.