It seems everywhere we look in our yards, there’s another weed sprouting up – and most of us would rather spend our time NOT down on our hands and knees pulling weeds!

The two most important things to know about eliminating weeds are:

#1 - Deal with them before they go to seed. Those seeds mean another new crop of weeds.

#2 - When removing weeds by hand, dig out the roots. If you try to pull the plant out of the soil, it often breaks off at the top and the root remains in the soil. Hand digging helps you get the whole plant out of the ground so the weed doesn’t grow back.

Once existing weeds and seeds are gone, prevention is key. One of the most effective means is to use mulch. Mulching around plants also give the advantage of helping the soil retain moisture so you need less water. If left in the ground, weeds will be competing with your tomatoes for water – something we want to avoid.

One of the cheapest types of mulch is already in your yard – grass clippings from your lawn. Occasionally catch the clippings as you mow, then place them around veggies or other plants to suppress weeds. Bark mulch, rock mulch and weed-free straw also deter weeds and help retain moisture.

Squash plants are another weed deterrent because their very large leaves shade the ground. Most weeds need sun, but squash plants shade the ground and prevent germination. And, while squash deter weeds, they provide food you can eat.

Grouping plants close together helps crowd out weeds. That’s why a lawn that is well-maintained and healthy has fewer weeds. There’s no place for them to grow.

Many weed-control products are also available at local garden centers. They range from horticultural grade vinegar to the more traditional weed killers. Be sure to read the product label and follow the instructions. Some products will kill any plant that’s green – in other words, both the lawn and the dandelions. Other products are called “selective” because the will kill only the dandelions – not the lawn. Know the weeds you have and learn how best to treat them.

Finally, avoid using pesticides around edibles. If you weed your veggie garden and apply mulch, you won’t have to worry about the weeds.