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  • Question: Weeds, Leaves, and Mulch beds

    Created by psilver1 on

    Located in North Carolina

    Last October I had a landscaper come in and frame most of my house with a mulch bed and plants. For the most part the plants developed nicely this past Spring and Summer. The one thing that was unexpected because I am inexperienced with landscaping beyond mowing the lawn was the constant battle with weeds throughout the entire mulch bed. In the Spring when I saw the weeds start to sprout up, I took the time to go around the house and dig them out. It took several days, but was able to dig them all out. I ignorantly thought, “Job well done! Now I can enjoy my flowering plants!” NOPE! A week later the weeds and grass started invading again. I eventually gave up and just tried ot maintain the best I could because it felt like I was fighting the tide.

    This Fall I completely weeded the mulch bed in the front of the house, put in some edging, and then put about 18 bags of pine bark chips on top of the mulch in hopes that it will help slow the growth of weeds next year by covering the exposed mulch. It took me all day to do this, and I feel like if I wanted to do the rest of the house, it would take me weeks of work.

    My question (finally, I know!) is I am close to woods and trees in the back and side of the house and get a HUGE amount of fallen leaves that I typically blow into the back woods off my grass. If I take those leaves and use THAT to cover the mulch this Fall and Winter, would that help slow/prevent weed growth for next Spring? Do the leaves need to be shredded or can they be placed whole in the mulch beds around the plants?

  • Author
  • #212649


    And as a follow-up, if I lay the leaves on top of existing weeds, will that kill them or do I need ot be thorough and pull all the weeds I can out of the beds?


    Eric Vinje

    Hello –

    It sounds as if the soil used in your beds has a rather large seed bank reserve. Ideally, your landscaper would have used weed-free soil to fill your beds. Unfortunately, the added leaf mulch won’t do much to help beyond increasing your soil organic matter. The pine bark chips may act as a physical barrier to the weeds, however they won’t do much to stop germination. Thankfully there is a solution! Corn Gluten Meal is a pre-emergent herbicide that will prevent weeds from sprouting if applied next spring. As it is a pre-emergent, it must be applied before seeds germinate, or it will not be effective. Early spring is ideal! Follow the instructions for a garden bed for best results.

    Please also see our excellent article on using leaves in the landscape here.

    Happy Growing!

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