Weeding, or The Story of Bob Smith and Sondra Boddy’s California Native Garden – Part Three

By Sondra Boddy, CNPS-San Diego Garden Native Committee Member

With over 16 inches of rain since October, everything in our California native garden is growing – including a bumper crop of weeds!  Before we can sit back and enjoy the spectacular spring wildflower display, we are working on getting rid of these annoying trespassers. Hand-weeding is our preferred eradication method in late winter, when the ground is soft and the weeds are large enough to be pulled out from the roots. Pulling weeds might not be your idea of fun, but it is very important and there are ways to make it easier and more enjoyable. It can even be good for you. How? Read on, California Native DIY Gardeners!

Eradicating weeds is important not only because it improves the appearance of your garden, but also because it promotes the health of your garden. Non-native or “naturalized” species are genetically programmed to compete with native species; they usually grow and bloom faster, blocking out sunlight and hogging water and nutrients. If left unchecked, weeds can damage or even kill oaks and other native flora by disrupting the fragile fungal network in the soil which allows native plants to share resources and support one another. Pulling weeds promotes good “garden hygiene,” which is essential to building a vibrant California native garden. 

Before you wade out into the sea of green meanies, here are some general pointers