Mulch: A Natural Pre-Emergent Weed Preventer

Mulch as an Alternative to Pesticides

Spring is here, and so are weeds.  Many people are determined to eliminate weeds as quickly as possible, and this can mean reaching for the bottle of weed killer.  But what if there was a natural, safe way to prevent weeds from appearing in the first place?  There is!

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At Midwest Pesticide Action Center, our goal is to offer alternative solutions to these dangerous and commonly used pesticides.  We suggest preventing the germination of weeds by mulching around existing plants in garden beds in early spring. Weeds need light and warm soil to grow.  A layer of mulch keeps sunlight from reaching the soil surface, keeping weed germination at a minimum. Even if the seeds germinate because of the warmer soil temperatures in spring, most weed seedlings won’t have the energy or sunlight necessary to push through the thick pile of mulch.  There are as many choices for mulch as there are budgets and tastes.  Shredded hardwood is a common type of mulch, but chopped leaves and grass clippings can be effective too.

Mulching Tips & Links

  • Spring is the best time to mulch— 3 inches or more reduces weeds and the need for water.
  • Ban the volcano! Avoid piling mulch against tree trunks to prevent diseases and pest infestation.
  • There are many “moods of mulch”. Learn which type is best for you.
  • Improve soil health by using organic mulch. It decomposes naturally adding nutrients and improves aeration.




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