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Weeds are simply plants in the wrong place, so one of the best ways of stopping them is to give them no place to grow.
This is easier said than done, as most weedy plants are very efficient at growing in the smallest gap, but with the right choice of plant, weeding can be reduced dramatically.
Choosing plants that spread across the ground is one option, as these cover a large area. The best spreading plants are ones that run along the surface, rooting as they go, as these can be controlled easily by cutting back.
Rubus rolfei (commonly known as orange berry or creeping raspberry) is a good example of this, slowly spreading and forming a dense barrier to weed growth.
Most of us do not want a garden full of creeping ground-cover plants, so another method of weed suppression is to mass-plant with small desirable plants. This can be achieved easily with small perennial plants which do not mind being planted close together. Often this can give a very dramatic effect, especially if the perennial is colourful in flower or leaf.
Unfortunately, no method is foolproof and we still have to get out there and weed. However, anything that can help reduce the amount of time spent weeding and allow more time relaxing in the garden must be a good thing.
- Dylan Norfield is collection curator of the geographic and arboretum collections at Dunedin Botanic Garden.