Weeds get a lot of bad press, and although the majority of it is warranted, we should remember that technically weeds are just plants that have ended up in the wrong place, and in the words of Amos Pettingill, “…a good gardener always starts as a good weeder”. So really you should be thankful for all the weeds you’ve battled with in the past, as they’ve made you the gardener you are today.
Weeds can be seedlings from another plant or invasive species that have found their way into your garden, but irrelevant of species or where they’ve come from, it’s safe to say that they are all most definitely unwanted. They become competition for your other plants, stealing essential water and nutrients and making the overall appearance of your garden less attractive.
There’s no point in me promising that with the help of this blog you can eradicate weeds forever, because we both know that’s just not realistic. However, the following guide can help you to dramatically reduce the number of weeds invading your garden and lower the chances of them reappearing, but you’re going to have to be prepared to get your hands dirty…
When to weed
Making plans to weed is not exactly the most exciting thing to schedule in your diary, but choosing the right time can make the task a lot easier. Waiting until after there has been some rainy weather means that the soil will be wet and the roots of your weeds will be looser and easier to pull up. Weeding when the ground is hard and dry can often cause the roots to be left behind. If no wet weather is forecast, you can use a hose to dampen the affected area, leave it overnight to allow the water to be absorbed by the soil, and then get going.
How to weed
Firstly, you need to get yourself a good pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands, and potentially a cushion to protect your knees if you’re working for prolonged periods of time.
If you’re battling weeds in soil that are tarnishing your beds and borders, the best way to get rid of these is by hand. Hold the weed as far down the stem as possible, grip tightly and pull. This will hopefully remove the whole weed including the roots, however we advise using a sharp pointed gardening spade to loosen the soil from where you’ve pulled the weed to ensure that all the roots have been lifted.
It’s also best to check there are no other traces of the weed in the surrounding soil as some weeds can sprout from any small parts left behind.
For weeds that are making your lawn look untidy, you can use a daisy grubber (weeding tool) to remove short rooted weeds such as daisies or a long-handled weed tool to remove the more stubborn weeds with deeper roots. To prevent weed build up on your turf, you should aerate, spike and rake yearly as this will aid drainage and keep your lawn healthy. There are also weed and feed products available for lawns, always read the packaging before use.
If you find weeds and moss creeping up on your container grown plants, you can remove these by hand using the same technique as with weeds in soil. After weeding, you can replace the top layer of soil with fresh compost to prevent further weeds appearing, or alternatively use a mulch of pebbles or chippings.
If you find weeds poking up through the cracks in your garden paths or on your patio, you can use an old knife, or a small, sharp gardening tool to scrape them out. Using a paving brush with angle wired bristles is also an effective way to clear weeds from your patios.
Preventing future invasions
Even after all your hard work, weeds can reappear for a number of different reasons including; a small part of the weed was left behind which then regrows, seeds get carried into your garden by the wind, or there is an empty area of soil which provides the space for weeds to grow. You can reduce the risk of these invasions with the help of a weed supressing mulch mat, a layer of organic matter or bark chippings, or mypex ground cover fabric. All of these methods prevent weeds from growing by depriving them of light, whilst keeping your soil cool and moist for your other plants.