Suppress weeds by ground cover planting
This article was first published on 15 Nov 2012.
Weeds could just be called a plant in the wrong place, so one of the best ways of stopping them is not to give them a place to grow. This is easier said than done as most weedy plants are very efficient at growing in the smallest gap, but with the right choice of plant weeding can be reduced dramatically.
Choosing plants that spread across the ground is one option as these soon cover a large area. The best spreading plants are ones that run along the surface rooting as they go as these can be controlled easily by cutting back. Rubus rolfei more commonly known as orange berry or creeping raspberry is a good example of this, slowly spreading forming a dense barrier to weed growth.
Most of us don’t want a garden full of creeping ground cover plants, so another method of weed suppression is to mass plant with small desirable plants. This can be achieved easily with small perennial plants which don’t mind being planted close together. Often this can give a very dramatic effect especially if the perennial is colourful in flower or leaf.
Unfortunately no method is fool proof and we will still have to get out there and weed, but anything that can help reduce the amount of time spent weeding and allow more time for relaxing in the garden must be a good thing.
Dylan Norfield is Collection Curator of the Geographic and Arboretum Collections at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.