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Weeding and Mulching

A tale of two lawns


Let’s imagine two identical yards in Victoria, British Columbia; yard A and yard B. Each yard has a nice lawn of turf, freshly installed by a landscaping company.

The garden spaces contain only earth, dirt, rock, and clay. It was left blank for each homeowner to figure out what to do next. Now, say homeowners A and B, in March, each plant the exact same garden bed filled with topsoil and some perennials.

Homeowner A takes the extra step of laying down 2 inches of mulch over the garden bed, at advice of his gardener brother-in-lawn.

Finally, both homeowners then go on an extended vacation for 4 months. They each leave their gardens in the care of another neighbor, who will only water the gardens.

In September, both homeowners return home to weeds in the garden. Both homeowners get to work weeding the garden bed, to bring it back. Not surprisingly, homeowner A finishes his weeding in an hour while his homeowner B will be out there pulling weeds for days. So why is this?

Why are there weeds in my garden at all?

In our industry, we use the term seed bank to determine why weeds grow in a garden where they were just eliminated the prior year.

Weeds drop seeds every year. So, if you weed your garden after the seeds have dropped, you’ll be enjoying the same weeding job next year. Year after year in doing this your garden builds up a bank of viable weed seeds which will keep germinating in years after you have been weeding in a garden. For this reason alone, weeding out your garden before seeds emerge is essential.

Seeds also drift along on the wind. Barriers such as cedar hedge rows, fences, and geographically isolated yards help to minimize the migration of airborne seeds like dandelions, but won’t eliminate them completely. As the flowers emerge, weed plants should be pulled out to stop the accumulation of banked weed seeds.

The roots of some plants also serve as a fresh starting point for another plant when the above portion of the plant and a portion of the root has been removed. Thistle, dandelion and quack grass are common persisting weeds in the garden and lawn. These weeds are difficult to fully remove without diligent followup work.

Garden Mulch

Mulch, on a garden is much like the blanket on our bed: it keeps something unwanted out and something wanted, in. In the garden’s case, mulch:

  • weakens weed seed growth, making often difficult to pull root masses easy weeding.

  • It reduces your gardens current seed bank germination viability through directly burying the seeds below a depth they need to germinate.

  • Preserves nutrients in the soil reducing erosion from irrigation and during rainy seasons.

  • Allows better water penetration into the ground by slowing the diversion of water.

  • Prevents nutrient-filled topsoil from eroding and leaking away from the garden. This is particularly important in terraced and sloped garden beds.

  • Encourages the growth of the soil microbiome (fungus).

  • Regulates root temperature and the rate at which water evaporates out of the ground.

Oakstead Tree and Property Care Inc. is a full service tree and property care company in British Columbia serving Sidney, Langford, Colwood, North Saanich down to Victoria BC and up to the Cowichan District and Duncan Area. We specialize in plant and tree installs, tree planting and tree installation on both residential and commercial properties in the Saanich Peninsula and Southern Vancouver Island. With over 35 combined years of landscape, tree and garden experience, you are in good hands with us!

If you’d like to schedule a viewing of your property or are commissioning private proposals in the Saanich and Victoria area, please give us a call at 250-652-9223 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get right back to you!