Xeriscaping: A Guide on Preventing Weeds from Growing in Your Xeriscape
Updated: Sep 12
One reason why xeriscaping has become so popular is because these types of landscapes can help to discourage weed growth in your landscapes! However, xeriscapes are only able to help cut back on weed growth if the xeriscape is installed correctly. And even then, there is no guarantee that you will never see a weed pop up. While there is no getting rid of weeds 100%, there are some things you can do and good habits you can form that will help minimize the weed population in your landscapes as much as possible.
How Do You Stop Weeds in a Xeriscape?
The most effective way to stop weeds from growing in your xeric landscapes is by installing your xeriscape (or any landscape) correctly. If you follow the 7 principles of xeriscaping when you plan out and install your design, this will help immensely with keeping away unwanted weeds. The second most effective way to keep weeds from infesting your landscapes is by staying on top of weeding! We know this is no one's favorite chore, but trust us, letting a weed population grow untamed can cause issues that are much bigger and much more difficult to remedy.
5 Steps to Preventing Weeds In Your Xeriscape
Now that we've mentioned the two most important things you need to do to keep weeds from growing in your xeriscaping, we are going to go into detail and explain what we mean exactly so that you can put these things into practice before, during, and after installing any sort of xeric landscape.
1. Plan Out Your Landscape Before You Begin
The first step in creating any new landscape or even refreshing an old landscape is coming up with a design and having a plan before you get started. While this may seem inconsequential as far as weed growth goes, you will see how it makes a difference in the next step! If you are already feeling overwhelmed just by planning out your project, let us know and we can design and install a beautiful and unique landscape for you!
2. Use Weed Barrier or Landscaping Fabric Before Planting
Using a weed barrier or some sort of landscaping fabric will be your best defense against weeds. Weed barrier works by keeping seeds from coming into contact with the soil, blocking any seeds that are already in the soil, and discouraging the growth of weeds by blocking the sun.
After you have created your landscaping design and prepared the soil, you will want to stake down a layer of landscape fabric, being sure to cover any exposed soil. If there are existing plants already in the ground, do your best to work around the plants, covering as much exposed soil as you can up to the base of the existing plants. You will then want to cut holes in your landscaping fabric according to the landscaping plan you formulated before beginning the installation process. Here is where a plan is important! You don't want to cut holes in your freshly laid weed barrier just to change your mind on where you want your plants and then end up with patchwork weed barrier.
3. Use A Drip Irrigation System
Once you have gotten your weed barrier in place and your plants in the ground, now is the time to install a drip irrigation system. Just because your landscape is xeric does not mean your plants will not need some water! Using a drip system as opposed to other forms of irrigation is in line with the principle of xeriscaping which says that a xeriscape should employ efficient use of water. Drip irrigation systems ensure that water is delivered directly to the base of each plant, and these systems can be set or programmed to administer a specific amount of water to your plants. This achieves the goal of efficient water use and also helps discourage weed growth by making sure that the ground between your plants is not getting watered, thereby not encouraging the germination and growth of weeds in the empty space between your plants. And if you need help with your irrigation system, we are here to help! Reach out to our Irrigation department or learn more about the irrigation services we provide.
4. Incorporate A Thick Layer of Mulch
After you have installed your drip irrigation system, it is time to apply a layer of mulch. This could mean a rock or gravel layer or a layer of wood chips or bark (the term "mulch" simply applies to any material spread over the ground or around the base of plants to either enrich or insulate the ground). Adding this layer not only makes your space look more natural and appealing, but it conceals your drip lines and also further blocks the sun from reaching any weeds under the landscaping fabric. If you are going to apply a layer of bark, it is ideal to have a 3-4 inch layer. For rock or gravel, apply a 2-3 inch layer for best results, and avoid putting the rocks right up against the base of any plant material. Since rocks conduct more heat than wood chips do, this could cause problems for your plants. To avoid causing damage to your plants and to also avoid having any exposed soil in rock areas, you can add a small ring of bark around your plants as pictured below.
5. Pull Weeds While They're Young
Lastly (and possibly most importantly), make sure to pull any weeds that do manage to pop up right away! If you notice weeds growing, they will be far easier to pull when they are young rather than after they have had the chance to grow a deeper set of roots. Also, if you wait to pull them, you risk them going to seed and spreading a thousand more seeds in your landscaping that you will have to deal with later. If you simply make a habit of regularly walking around your property, pulling any weeds that you happen to notice, this will keep weeds at bay and will help avoid you having to spend hours digging stubborn weeds out of your landscaping.