Best Garden Plants that Naturally Stop Weeds from Growing

Backyard Spruce

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If, like most gardeners, you absolutely hate having to pull out weeds then you may want to consider plants that will outcompete the weeds and suppress them from growing. Some common herbs and vegetables that you find in Zone 5 gardens might even be helping you out already without you even knowing it.

It doesn’t take a degree in plant ecology to understand that plants need a place to grow and compete with other plants for vital nutrients and water. Some weeds are really hardy, and they have quick reproductive capabilities.

Some herbs and vegetable plants use poisonous chemical compounds to help weeds stay away. This plant biochemical warfare was first observed in the 1930s and is known today as allelopathy. These strong aromatizing chemicals that we get from fennel, garlic, and caraway are biochemical compounds that help weeds stay away from your garden. Many edible plants repel weeds by combining some of these weedy characteristics.

When planning out your garden layout during early spring, consider these herbs and vegetable plants to prevent weeds from growing in your garden, your back will thank you later!

Herbs that Stop Weed Growth in the Vegetable Garden

Herbs to plant in your garden to reduce weeds from growing

Chives

Chives are a great choice for a garden as not only do they provide a harvest, but chives will also deter weeds from growing. Chives are low-maintenance herbs that grow fast and spread very easily, allowing them to choke out any competition of weeds around them.

Be mindful that during the course of the growing season, chives will take over the garden bed if the flowers are allowed to fully develop. The easiest solution – cut the flower heads before they fully develop, preventing the seeds to scatter about your garden box. You may still need to occasionally pull some as they can also spread by their bulb system underground.

Mint

Mint is like a weed itself. This quick reproducing herb will quickly spread through your garden box and fill in any voided soil areas. I’d recommend boxing off areas of the garden box that you do not want the mint spreading towards. Mint is also shade tolerant so it’s perfect to pair with bush-like crops.

Mint will grow to about a foot or two in height, allowing it to smother out any shorter weeds from growing and spreading. Best of all, you can completely chop and harvest all of the mint during fall and it will sprout back up in spring – making mint a low-maintenance and long-term weed suppression solution.

Oregano

Oregano is a very popular cooking herb and can be grown in plentiful quantities. This herb can grow out of cracks in the pavement if you allow it. Like many weeds, oregano drops a ton of seeds while also growing runners. This allows oregano to quickly colonize any space provided to it while reducing any chance for weeds to grow and thrive – essentially choking out any competition it may have.

Oregano loves to grow in full sun exposure and is considered to be drought-tolerant. It will even accept rocky and aerated soil making this herb a very hardy choice no matter which zone you are growing it in.

Parsley

The staple herb in any kitchen, parsley is very easy to grow in a garden and once established will be spreading all over the place like a weed. An established parsley plant will drop many seeds at once during early summer which will form a thick carpet of leaves across the garden area making sunlight impenetrable to weeds below.

Parsley is another herb that will virtually grow anywhere if unmanaged – including the cracks in the pavement of your driveway. I would also recommend creating a containment wall within your garden area to ensure it does not spread outward into the yard.

Like oregano, parsley prefers exposure to full sun but can tolerate some evening shade.

Vegetables that Reduce Weeds in Your Garden

Onions, garlic, and leeks have been shown to have a handle on reducing weed growth in a garden.

Very few vegetables can ward off weeds, but there are a select few that try to make a little attempt at it. While not as effective as other plants in this article, vegetables that reduce weeding is a double reward. Not only do these plants reduce back-aching pain, but they also provide a harvest for you to enjoy at the end of the growing season.

Allium Species (Onion, Garlic, Leek)

A few common allium species like onions, garlic, and leeks have been shown to have a handle on reducing weed growth in a garden. Particularly, these crops are effective due to their volatile sulfur amino acids and phenolic acids contained in their leaves, bulbs, and soil area.

Bush Beans

Bush beans, that is beans that can grow on their own without a support structure, can be an effective weed suppressor in the garden. Bean plants develop deep roots, but also have some lateral roots closer to the surface of the soil making space around the crop competitive. A dense row of bush beans will discourage weeds from growing. Plant bush beans 6-8 inches apart for effective spacing.

Fennel

Specifically bulb fennel for vegetable harvesting, this plant will not only suppress weeds but its flowers will attract worker bees and butterflies. The seeds are also fragrant and will attract many small birds to come and feast, which may also indirectly help with other annoying garden pests like beetles, grasshoppers, and slugs infestations.

Fennel, regular or bulb, are outstanding aromatic plants that grow between 5-6 feet tall preferring full sun access and well-drained soil. Fennel is fairly hardy and once matured will be filling out your garden as they drop their seeds to spread. To contain fennel, cut off the inflorescences (entire flower heads) before the seeds drop.

Fennel contains a biochemical compound that prevents the seeds from weeds from germinating. A great natural choice for preventing weeds from growing in your garden.

Flowers That Fight Off Weeds in a Vegetable Garden

Flowers that are good at suppressing weeds in a vegetable garden.

Flowers are a great addition to your vegetable garden as they tend to attract pollinators which can be beneficial for pollinator-reliant crops in your garden and increasing your garden’s yield. Flowers for vegetable gardens can also attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, spiders, ground beetles, and predatory wasps that feasts on aphids.

Marigolds

There have been some studies that suggest various varieties of marigolds can ward off weeds, specifically bindweed, ground elder, ground ivy, and couch grass. Marigolds planted in dense spacing will smother the ground area, preventing adequate light from the sun to reach the soil.

Marigolds also have other benefiting qualities like deterring pests like squad beetles, mosquitoes, and nematodes while also attracting other insects that prey on aphids.

Petunias

Petunias are bright annual flowers that can help guard off pests from your vegetable garden. Petunias repel aphids, nematode worms, squash bugs, and some types of beetles. They emit a slight licorice smell which some insects avoid; however, it can attract other pests like caterpillars and slugs.

Not only do you get vibrant colors to spice up your garden, but petunias also provide a dense canopy over the soil that prevents light reach it preventing any other growth. Planting a row of petunias strategically and these flowers will fill out freeing you up from a lot of weeding.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers also have some allelopathic properties, although it is mostly the wild sunflowers that have greater chemical compound concentrations – but, still, garden varieties still have it present. Sunflowers give off sesquiterpene lactones, terpenes, and phenolic compounds from their roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds.

These biochemicals are the sunflower’s way of effectively fending off competitors trying to creep into its growing territory. Chives are also a great companion to grow near sunflowers as they also deter weeds from growing in full force.