Many native perennials (forbs and grasses) and weeds exploded this summer due to the wetter and/or warmer than usual weather. Often times seeds and plants germinate in moist decomposing mulch. I recommend using a string trimmer (weed wacker) or Dutch Hoe to trim weeds or perennials in unwanted areas instead of weeding by hand.
If taller perennial plants are invading your paths or larger areas outside your garden, cut the stalks before they get too tall with a string trimmer or Dutch hoe. Use the cuttings as mulch or compost if they ARE NOT invasive weeds (for example: garlic mustard ). Repeated trimmings for several years will zap the energy of most perennial weeds since you are preventing them from photosynthesizing.
Also use the string trimmer to trim the lawn lawn bordering your gardens to keep a neat edge and to prevent the lawn from creeping into your gardens. Note: Also edging your gardens each year with a sharp spade is a must.
I sometime use the string trimmer or Dutch Hoe to trim some of the weeds taking over my new garden beds. Be careful not to unintentionally trim down the native plants in your garden areas unless you want to selectively control a specific plant from spreading or seeding . You want your native plants to fill in all the bare spots since bare spots are an open invitation for weeds.
A string trimmer can also be used to control weeds after seeding a new bed the first year or two or to trim away last years or dried plant material in early spring if you cannot burn. See Prairie Nursery’s Post Planting Management notes online for more info.
I prefer an electric trimmer because they are cleaner and easier to use but the cord can get in the way. Gas or propane trimmers are useful for larger yards. Make sure the model you choose is not too heavy to carry for any length of time, and follow all safety instructions. Also ask your family & friends to stay clear of the area you are trimming since flying debris such as mulch and rocks can hurt. Ouch!
One last tip: If you have native plants spreading into unwanted areas, dig them up while young and share them with others. It’s an easy way to share these wonderful plants, especially with friends and neighbors.