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I have several beds with shrubs and mulch that I thoroughly weeded at the start of the summer.  All the weeds have come back and I am finally going to buy new mulch (although I can barely afford it).  My question is do i rake up all the weeds and old mulch before putting down the new stuff or do I spray weed killer and then put on the new mulch?  Or can I avoid the weedkiller altogether?  I have kids and a cat that would be difficult to keep out of the garden so I usually don't use weed killer.  I have that black underlay in the beds so I would just be raking the much off that.  Any advice would be appreciated.


Are they perennial weeds or annuals?   If they are annuals then they should hand pull or hoe off easily. Some things like poppies will seed into mulch and grow unless it is chunky stuff like bark or cocoa shells.

The normal time to add mulch is spring, starting with a weed free bed. If they are perennials then youhave a problem because you cannot fork them out easily  with a membrane. You would have to spot weedkiller with something like glyphosate gel.

Just putting more mulch on top would not help because they will just grow through it.

Thanks fidgetbones.  I think the majority are annuals so maybe I'll pull all of them and treat the perennials with a weedkiller.  Do you think I should lift the mulch that is already there or would i be safe enough once I let the weedkiller work?  Leaving what is there would save me money, but I don't want to face massive weeds again if I don't lift what is there.


Leave it there just add more on top. Mulch tends to disappear as it rots down.

Before you add more mulch WATER well.  The idea of a mulch is to conserve moisture already in the soil. Water as well as you can.  If weeds are annuals you can hoe them off first then let the sun dry them off for few hours then water then mulch


Just noticed.....sorry it must be all,this heat.

If you have a plastic membrane down putting a mulch on top,is going to do,NOTHING.  Are you saying you already have this membrane on the ground novice gardener?

Yes Verdun, the membrane is under the existing mulch.  


Save your money.  More mulch is pointless


Hoe the weeds out regularly every few weeks - that's how you get rid of weeds - that's gardening.  No amount of mulching will get rid of weeds.


I agreed with Verdun and Dovabove above. If you already have a membrane down adding more mulch is not going to help. Are the weeds growing through the membrane? If they are then you need to lift it, dig out what are probably perennial weeds and start again. If the membrane was out flown some time ago and/or is very cheap they do degrade and break apart.

if area roots are just in the mulch then they will be annuals and if you keep clearing them off they should reduce over time as any weed seeds in the mulch will be used up. you also need to think about where the weeds may be coming froHavel you lots of weeds in neighbours gardens? If so then you may to just accept that it will be an ongoing chore. It may be that the seeds were in the mulch, especially if its home composted?

another way of controlling weeds is to plant up the beds so there is not too much spare soil. Once the plants you want have spread and grown then there will be less space for weeds to grow and germinate. I know this also tait's time to achieve but at least you know the work will reduce over time.

If you want to mulch but can't afford the costs. The following can be used although I admit they aren't pretty to look at, they will gradually rot down cardboard, newspapers, harass cuttings. You could use the first two to add a barrier layer under your existing mulch.

Hope we have offered some help or glimmers of hope 


That was supposed to say grass cuttings. I seem to be having some strange typos with my iPad. Maybe it's the heat affecting it or me......or maybe both?


Hiya chissie

Just a cautionary note.  Few years back I decided to use my mowings as a mulch in my veg patch.  Big mistake.  I still get grass weeds growing there despite the applications of other mulches since.  Grass mowings best on compost heap I think

Thanks for the warning!

i haven't ever used them as they look messy was wondering whether to give it a try this year.....maybe not

Thanks for all the input everyone.  I'm pretty sure the majority are annuals because they are on top of the underlay.  I'll just keep pulling, and I'm going to try the cardboard and newspaper in the less conspicuous beds.  Many of the shrubs have died in the last few harsh winters here in Ireland so that would account for the gaps in the beds.  I'm trying to plant cuttings of the shrubs that have survived, but it will take a while for them to grow and fill in.  It's all trial and error but I'm learning!  Thanks again.

Novice gardener, you're not putting cuttings directly into the ground where old plants were are you?


Some I have, others I have cut a hole in the membrane and put in fresh soil before planting.  Some of the cuttings have taken, others haven't.  Am I doing it wrong?  Probably!

I really wouldn't do that.  Best to grow cuttings on in pots and plamt out when they fill at least a 1 litre pot.  And dont put same plants in same spot.  They will not grow well at all.  

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