We actually had a couple of days last week warm enough to get outside and accomplish something (I'm kind of a wimp in the cold). I started with my mini herb garden. I only have 3 herbs in it and have had plans on expanding it for at least 2 years, but it just hasn't happened. It's right along the walk up to our house. This little spot was dug out of the lawn, so the lawn just always wants to creep back into it (probably should have dug down at the edges and put some kind of barrier in). It got a little out of hand last year, so this year I'm getting a head start on it. We heard about this little weed beating technique last year and I tried it on my one flower bed and around my baby lilacs and it worked pretty well for keeping weeds down, so I'll be putting it to use again this year.
First I pulled out the majority of weeds and grass (funny how weeds grow before anything useful). Hey, the chives are growing! They're the green spots in the middle.Next I laid down newspaper 3-4 layers thick in a paper mache type of pattern. Use big pieces, and take it all the way to the edges--I tucked some under the rocks, and I'll be putting rocks along the front as well to hold it in place. This is best done on a day without wind ;-). Also get it close to the base of the plants. Newspaper is cheap, biodegrades, and lets air in, unlike black plastic. Our little county newspaper is pretty scrawny, so I've been saving all winter for these projects and I probably still won't have enough for what I want to cover. A few good city Sunday papers would go a long ways . . . After I got the paper laid down, I wet it so it would stay--the wind always blows here in the spring.Last, I put mulch over the paper and watered it again. We have last years grass clippings, but you could use bark or wood chips, or whatever. I'd rather have bark since it would stay put longer with our spring breezes, but hey, I'm cheap . . . I mean frugal and resourceful . . . so I use what I have.Voila. Weed barrier on the cheap. This method could easily go larger scale--like for the regular vegetable garden--as long as you have enough newspaper and mulch. This cut WAY down on my weeds last year in the beds I tried it on. I did have to add to the mulch periodically through the growing season so the obituaries didn't show through . . . :)