How to Obtain a Weed Free Cottage Garden

O.k. now my friends, I am not a professional gardener, so this advice is just what I have found works for me.

I am happy to say however that at our previous home our garden was featured in local garden tours three different times.  Once it was the main article in a local paper about one of the tours.

Many times friends and family ask, “do you ever have a weed in your garden?”  lol!  Of course I do, every now and then.  But these tips will help give your garden the appearance that you don’t.


My gardens are still young and will evolve over time.


Now, I know what you are thinking, “Oh she probably never did have any weeds and she doesn’t work so of course it’s easy to maintain”.

Now about the weeds.  Our home was built in ‘2007’.  We purchased it in ‘2009’.  The owners had put the rock wall in, but no yard.  The entire area was full of weeds.  In fact two of my friends came and helped me pull out the puncture weeds.  They were everywhere and they were kind enough to want to help me stop the spread.


It was work getting rid of all of the weeds at first.  My hubby said, “let’s just Round up the entire area.  I said, “No, let me pull a little at a time”.  That’s what I did, I would water a section the night before and then get out and pull.  This was where we were going to have flower beds.  I didn’t worry about where there would be grass.

I no longer work, but did for many years.  Yet, in all three of my homes I have been able to maintain a lovely garden.  Although I must admit, gardening is therapy for me.  When I came home from work I found that if I spent a half an hour in the garden.  Even if it was just deadheading I felt rejuvenated.

Now for those tips:

1.  Get Out.

It’s VERY important that you get out early and pull any small weeds that might have survived the Winter.  You want to get them out before they have time to germinate and for the seeds to spread.

Because I have been doing this for a few years, I rarely even have any weeds.

I might mention that I have never used Preen.  Bought a large container once, thinking that I might need it here.  Never did use it and ended up giving it to my oldest son.


Get out as soon as the ground can be worked.  It has been nice here the last few days and I spent 2-3 hrs.  Sat. and Monday.  I’ll be back out there this afternoon.  This is still doable even if you only have the weekends.

2.  Clean Out

Clean out all of that Winter debris.  Weeds like to hide underneath.  Often people will say, “what if it snows again?”  Believe me, here in UT it’s a guarantee that it will snow again!  They are perennials and it won’t hurt them a bit.  Just gives them a well needed drink before the sprinklers are turned on.

3.  Plant heavily.

I plant my perennials quite close.  It’s nice if you follow the rule of planting them in three’s.  Sometimes I want a plant to be a pop of color and just plant one.  Also, if it’s too expensive and you can’t afford three.  Leave some of the seed heads and you will have three (probably more) before you know it.


An empty area is an area that says, “welcome weeds”.



4. Use groundcovers.

Take advantage of these great plants that fill a space in quickly.  I always chuckle when someone talks about a ground cover ‘taking over’.  Well, after all; they aren’t called ground covers for nothing. lol!


Don’t worry when the ground cover spreads.  Your perennials will still pop up through them.


This is that same area early Spring.  I cut everything way back.  I always think it looks like I have too much yard art in the Spring.  As soon as the flowers start popping up I love how it looks!






2012-05-13 May Flowers_thumb[5]




4.  Save seeds to spread for extra pops of color and take advantage of self sowing annuals.

  I always let my Morning Glory vine winter over and then I pull the vine and crush the seed pods during Spring clean up.  I sprinkle both Zinnias and Marigold seeds that I save from year to year.

Morning Glory_thumb[3]



5.  Use mulch.  Notice that my rose garden is fairly new.  A layer of mulch keeps the weeds down until the roses reach maturity.


Every person is different, but I don’t care for weed guard or wood chips.  I hate how the weed guard breaks apart, pulls up and shows.  Also, I find that weeds are still able to push through.  My youngest son used it in one area and loves it.

Wood chips are pretty when they are new, plus they smell nice.  But I hate how they look when they become faded


6.  Create garden rooms.

By doing this you can add fun yard art to help fill up the space.  Also, it’s important to not have more flower beds than you are able to maintain.  Less pretty beds is much nicer than a lot of weedy beds.

*If you find that you really don’t have the time to get out and do Spring clean up.  I suggest you hire someone to do it for you.  Really, it will make such a difference!

Although it’s a lot of work for me in the Spring, while others are fighting weeds all summer long, I just sit back and enjoy the view.

I do suggest you strolling the garden weekly, dead heading, cutting back spent perennials. (unless you want them to spread), and pulling that occasional weed.

I actually do this every morning.  That is, when I am not gallivanting or have something on the agenda.  Remember, it’s therapy for me.

It always amazes me that in just a couple of months this: (picture of my shade and herb garden taken after clean up on Sat.)


becomes this!


I hope that I have given you some good advice.  I know that many of you are fabulous gardeners. 

I’d love to hear any great garden tips you might have.



I want to thank Linda from Coastal Charm for featuring My New Hang Up at her Nifty Thrifty Tuesday Party!

I will be sharing with these lovely parties:

Savvy Southern Style for WOW

Lavender Garden Cottage for Cottage Style Party

A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday

Common Ground for Be Inspired

The Charm of Home for Home Sweet Home

Rooted in Thyme for Simple and Sweet Fridays

Shabby Art Boutique for Shabbilicious Friday

French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday

The Dedicated House for Anything Blue Friday

How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday

Natasha in Oz for g'day Saturday


Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said...

So beautiful Jann. I don't have a garden. I do plant some annuals in pots...and I love the color!

Julie Marie said...

Beautiful Jann!... can you believe our weather!!!... I have been out in my gardens too... my routine is alot like yours... it's second Nature to me now after all these years... and it too is my therapy... I let my plants "bloom where they are planted"... I love it when a stray pops up in an unexpected place and I always leave it there... I too plants heavily... people think my gardens are larger than they are when they see photos on my blog... it's just that I pack every square inch with plants!... I also love to get free cuttings from friends... and I am not shy about knocking on someones door and asking if I might have a cutting of something of theirs... I would gladly share if they knocked on my door... I have found that most gardeners are the nicest people in the world and love to welcome me into their gardens, talk about their plants, and before you know it, I have made a new friend... one thing I do that you did not mention, well two things actually... one, I add Soil Pep each Spring... not like bark (yucky) but wonderful compost and smells great... gives the plants an extra boost... and 2. I never ever use any pesticides of sprays... if I do spray for aphids and such, it is a homemade mixture of soapy water... well... I have almost written a book here!... see... get me talking about gardening and I can't quit!... I have a feeling you are the same way!... we need to meet in SLC one day!... xoxo Julie Marie

Nell at njschout said...

Oh, Jan, you make me want to go out and work in my garden but after this weekends snow storm that is not going to happen. I agree that early spring work is very important and I do like mulch to keep back weeds. We live in a very wet area and the weeds love the rain so sometimes it can still be challenging to keep up, probably because we have too many gardens! Your gardens are lovely.

Julie Marie said...

Wow, I need to proofread my comments for typos BEFORE I hit publish!... sorry... yes, I am a country girl, but I meant to say "I too PLANT" heavily, not I too "Plants" heavily!... hee hee hee...

Susie said...

Wowwee, Jann, Your hard work has paid off. I love your gardens. You are so right about not leaving a bare spot...for weeds...Pop in the ground cover. I really will remember your tip about watering the night before so weed pulling will be easier. xoxo,Susie

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post! You have inspired me to get out and get it done! Your flowers are beautiful!

The Old Parsonage said...

Yes, hard work does pay off and year after year - you are reaping the benefits. Everything looks so lush and beautiful!



Linda W. said...

Your garden and yard are gorgeous!

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Beautiful garden Jann. Everything looks so good. thanks for all the tips.
Have a great week.

allisamazing said...

What great advice and your garden is gorgeous! Spring is right around the corner here (fingers crossed) and I will be sure to get out early! Thanks for sharing :)

Michele said...

GREAT advice - and I so so so so sooooo can't wait for it to warm up.

It's snowing today.

Your gardens are fabulous.

I needed the floral eye candy, thanks so much. Hugs.

camp and cottage living said...

Your before and after photos give me hop, Jann!
Your garden is beautiful. I love the huge stone border too.

Unknown said...

Love the tips Jann, and your garden is gorgeous!!!


Cranberry Morning said...

I love your before and after photos! What gorgeous flower beds. I know it's a ton of work, and my best tip would be to read this blog before starting another flower bed. Right now I have 2 main flower beds and you are so right about empty space inviting weeds. Part of the issue also is that it started out as a sun garden, then the trees grew up and now it's mostly shade. Thanks also for the tip on ground cover. I had no idea the perennials would grow up through such dense ground cover. Good to know! Thank you!

Junkchiccottage said...

Wow Jann how beautiful. I went back and just looked at your lovely pictures a few times. So pretty. Ahhh I cannot wait to see garden flowers here. Thanks for the great tips.

Stacy said...

I love your garden! Your poppy bed is so pretty. I think you have given great advice for keeping the weeds out. Thank you!

Rosemary and Thyme said...

Very impressive. Your gardens are very beautiful. Great advice which I will share with my husband. He loves to garden. Thank you for sharing.


Debbie said...

Your gardens are gorgeous, Jann. Here in OH we still have snow & temps going into the single digits or worse. It should be 40's barely in the teens. I can't wait for spring to arrive & your gardens help lift my spirits. Thanks you!

Maureen Wyatt said...

I struggle with the weed issue and am taking this advice to heart! Thanks.

priscilla said...

I always love your garden photos Jann ! We still have a ton of snow so no working in the yard for me yet!You are lucky !

Diane said...

Oh Jan!! I have such garden envy and you have given us such great tips! However, I gave up trying to garden in Georgia many years ago. I just cannot stand the heat - yikes!!

polly said...

I love your photos, they are really motivating me to get started!I've never done much gardening, but would love to start this year. I think it would be a great project for me to do with my 5 yr old!I'm thinking of herbs grown in pots/containers, so I can pick them up and put them on a picnic table, to protect them from being eaten, and I'd like some flowers around the trees in my front yard and in the pretty large, empty bed in my front yard, against the front porch. Do you thinkI could start with seeds? Or is that difficult for a newbie? ShoudI go to a nursery and get some planta that have already been started?

polly said...

How do I post a photo of my front yard?

farmhouse-story said...

thanks for the tips--your garden is gorgeous, jann!

Tea in the Library said...

Thanks for the Spring Preview! Glancing out my window I see it is STILL snowing! You're so diplomatic! And your advice sounds good to me.

Pamela said...

You do a wonderful job. Your garden is beautiful.
I am working on that comment "only have what you can handle" part. I used to have 10 or 12 little gardens here and there. Now I have 3 large gardens in important areas, filling in all those empty areas you mentioned. Looks much better.

Marie-Interior Frugalista said...

Wow Jann, my mouth is still dropped to my knees - gorgeous yard and to think it isn't very old! Looks pretty darn good in it's young age.
Marie @ The Interior Frugalista

Rose L said...

Wow!! What an amazing garden! I am not much of one to work in the garden. But sure wish my almost half acre looked like yours. Wish they would maintain themselves!!! LOL

Christine at Little Brags said...

Simply GORGEOUS!!!! Chrsitine from Little Brags

Babs said...

Jann, Oh, I have garden envy! Your garden is gorgeous and I LOVE your choice of plant material, and your tip for planting heavily...not the tip on weeding. LOL I need to look for sun loving ground cover to choke out my weeds. I'm bookmarking your tips, to encourage me to be a better gardener. Thanks so much.

LBP said...

I totally have garden envy! Yours is absolutely beautiful. I worked on mine some this weekend. It's hard to remember where I planted new things last fall. I really need to keep a journal and write these things down.



K said...

Hi Jann,

Gorgeous garden! This was exactly the post I needed at the moment - our garden is HUGE and full of weeds and I don't know where to start!

Out of interest, I know you're in the US and I'm in Australia, but what mulch do you use? I too dislike wood chips for the same reasons, and have been warned against using weed mats.

I'd love to know what you recommend :)

All the best,


kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Wow, what gorgeousness, Jann!! You must have a green thumb, for sure. I was so disappointed that my morning glory seemed to get eaten by something this past summer. I like to mix morning glories and moon flowers, but some critter liked it. I'll try again because they're so cheerful. Thanks for your tips and inspiration. xo

Kirsty Girl said...

I love your foxgloves! I tried planting a few last month but they didn't take unfortunately which is a real shame because you can never find them to buy as they're classified as a weed and pest in Australia.

I was hoping this post would help me as I tried to use vinegar to kill some of our weeds the other day but it doesn't look like it's worked. And of course the whole after winter thing doesn't help me in Aus. :)

It's amazing to me that you've been able to keep it weed free! Sounds impossible!!!

Your garden is absolutely beautiful! Just the kind I'd love too. I'll get there... I hope!

Deborah Montgomery said...

alas, I don't have a garden, because the woods come almost up to our back deck. I would like to have someone clear some space for me. But right now it's just container gardening on my deck. Your garden is just beautiful. All your hard work looks like it really pays off.

pookie said...

Loved reading your blog and I'm going to share this with my husband. What mulch do you use? Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I love your garden Jann. Thank you for the helpful tips. You are so right about getting at the weeds early on in the season. We actually pay for that first clean up and the cost is worth the work it saves later. Blessings to you dear lady,

Schan said...

Gorgeous garden, I know how hard is to keep it weeds free. I normally spray weed killer before mulching and it helps alot. I'm Angel. Janet's husband. Rose@thyme.

Schan said...

Gorgeous garden, I know how hard is to keep it weeds free. I normally spray weed killer before mulching and it helps alot. I'm Angel. Janet's husband. Rose@thyme.

Denise said...

Wow Jann -- I'm in awe of how gorgeous your garden is!!! It looks likes it's straight out of a gardening book!! I think your tips are very useful and good to know for people who would love to have a pretty garden or just a pretty flower bed.

It looks like you can grow a real variety of flowers in your gardening zone (we're in North Carolina). This is the first time I've visited -- love your blog! :)

Visiting from Home Sweet Home party; have a great weekend.

Denise at Forest Manor

Custom Comforts said...

Beautiful photos so full of promise of spring and summer. Thank you for all the tips - you make me want to go out and garden, if only the weather would cooperate.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

Very beautiful!

Unknown said...

This is gorgeous and inspiring!!! I hear this weekend we will have snow again here in the Midwest! I am so ready for spring... I was just looking through old photos of my garden from last year and planning on posting for a little inspiration and planning for my spring gardens! Your perennials are so gorgeous! I am also in love with your yard art!! I think you can never have enough! Thanks again for the bright and cheery thoughts towards spring... Just need to get out there and clean up the winter debris now! Have a great day! Thanks for sharing.

Tammy said...

What a beautiful garden and you are so right about getting out there and weeding. You have to or it will overcome any where. Seems our pine straw and spraying vinegar often keeps our weeds down. Pinning to my garden board. www,

Janice Kay Schaub said...

Inspiring. Can not wait for SPring I soooooo want to be in the garden

Tobi Britton* said...

Awesome Jann! if you ever want to come and live with me, my garden would be very happy! I will take your advice! Thanks and sparkly hugs to you.
Tobi and the Pixies!

Shabbyprimdelights said...

Your garden is beautiful and a credit to your hard work. Be very proud ...HPS Michelle

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Wonderful tips and wonderful garden! I saw some Mountains in the background too! Know you are anxiously waiting to get in your lovely garden this Spring!
Happy Weekend,

Nancy said...

Your garden is beautiful, Jann. Dennis and I both love to garden and can't wait until we get a place of our own again where we can plan and plant. :) I like to shop for perennials at the end of the season when the garden centers have them marked way down. They get a great start through the fall and then come up in the spring like mad. It's just a way I can get more bang for my buck. Great post! Thanks for sharing. I'm pinning it to my Gorgeous Gardens board. Hugs ~ Nancy

Tobi Britton* said...

Hey Jann, thanks for visiting! So I was thinking about you all this morning and how you say to do a little at a time , way before the weeds even come up- I tried to pull a nic juicy weed clump this morning but alas, it was frozen in the ground! I will totally implement your plan this year- my lovely garden that looks like I need no help was photographed on June 21st- way before my weed garden took up residence!! Love your posts, I will be back!!!
Sparkly Hugs,
Tobi and the Pixies!

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

the size alone is daunting ! but you've conquered it gloriously & many thanks for sharing the pix!

Light and Voices said...

You are a very talented designer to be able to have a garden that beautiful. I love your garden!
JM Illinois

Marti McClure said...

What a gorgeous garden! And I really appreciate all of your tips. Happy Pink Saturday! Marti

Fran said...

Fabulous tips, Jann! And I soooo needed to see the pictures of your garden in bloom; we still have a foot of snow on the ground and it seems as if winter will never end. When it does end, I'll be so grateful to see the ground that weeding will be a pleasure. :) What are your favorite shade plants? Hostas are really the only perennial shade plants that I can get to winter over. Have a wonderful week! :) --Fran

The Charm of Home said...

How pretty your garden is. Thanks for sharing.

Kathy said...

Thank you Jann for sharing your tips - I do need to spread plants more heavily - I battle weeds every year! I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday,

myrmayde said...

Jann, your garden is absolutely gorgeous! Your tips are very helpful. I have a few questions: What specific mulch do you use to keep weeds down? What week of the year do you put it down? (I don't think I see it in your February photo.) And how thick a layer do you put down? I have a huge flower garden that has been manageable for the previous 3 years, but this year is full of weeds, mostly black medic. I was hoping this would work: 1 inch of soil pep, applied within a day or two of when the area is thoroughly weeded. Thanks in advance, Nancy

Vee said...

That really is good advice! My problem is that I often don't know the difference between the weeds and the perennials in spring. Every now and then, I've found a lovely volunteer, but usually it is just a weed after all. Your gardens are lovely!

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