Gardeners love their gardens, but there is one thing about gardening that they do not love: weeds. Whether it is the weeds themselves or the act of weeding, if you are a gardener, you are not likely to like anything to do with weeds. So the one thing you will want to know is how to easily weed your garden.
Weeding will always be a chore, but it does not have to be a big one. Work smarter, not harder. By knowing a little about weeds and a lot about how to pull them, you can make weeding, if not pleasant, then at least achievable. The best strategy is to not put weeding off. No one wants to face off in the summer against an army of weeds.
Tips for Weeding Your Garden the Easy Way
There are many situations in which you will find weed growth in your garden. Some of them dire, and some of them routine. To weed your garden the easy way, weeding has to be a priority rather than something you put off. Avoiding unpleasant work is the surest way to turn a routine problem into a dire one.
These tips revolve around keeping weeding simple and easy by addressing it strategically and in small, achievable ways. If you can do weeding when it is not overwhelming, then you can accomplish the task with ease.
Weed a Little Every Day
Set aside time every day to do a little weeding in your garden. At the very least, make it a few days a week. This will help you accomplish a couple of things:
- Catch the weeds before their roots get too deep
- Catch the weeds before they become too many
Make it a point, as you go around and inspect your burgeoning crop, to keep an eye out for weeds. As you see them, pull them.
Morning is often the best time to do this, especially in summer. If you can get out to your garden early, before it gets hot, then weeding the few nasty ones that have sprouted up can be easy.
Also, keep your gloves or your favorite weed pulling tool in your pocket when you are out and about in your garden. Roaming the aisle with weed pulling tools at the ready will eliminate the excuse of needing to go all the way back to the shed to get what you need.
Weed After it Rains
One of the best ways to make weeding easy is to do it when the soil of your garden is damp. Whenever you get a rain, keep an on the sky for a clear day. After it rains, more weeds will sprout up, so getting a jump start on it while the soil is damp will help make weeding easy.
If it hasn’t rained and you have some weeding to do, consider making it rain with your garden hose. Dampen the soil and get muddy on your hands and knees. Water loosens up the soil, which loosens the dirt around the roots. Only be careful not to compact the wet soil. Lay down a board to spread out your weight.
Use the Right Technique
Dampening the soil is the best start to your weed pulling technique. Once you use the right technique, pulling weeds will be that much easier. Consider these tips:
- Grab the weed by the base
- Pull firmly and slowly
- Pull the weed straight out of the ground
When you are weeding, being deliberate and mindful about your technique will help eliminate frustration. Try to avoid doing these things:
- Grabbing a handful of weeds
- Grabbing a weed and jerking it out of the ground
- Twisting the weed
Doing these things can cause you more work and more frustration. When you pull up a weed improperly, you most often break it off at the base near the dirt, leaving the root buried in the ground while the weed is in your hand.
That may look good for a time, but that will not solve the problem. Now there may be times when you will want to take a jerk and pull approach to weeding (more on that later), but by and large, you want to use a good technique to make weeding easier.
Use the Right Tools
You may have noticed the mention of tools earlier. Weeding tools play an important role in making weeding easier. You do not have to pull weeds by hand to be considered a good gardener. If there is a tool that makes weed pulling easier, use it.
The first tool to consider is one that often gets overlooked because it is so simple: gloves. A good pair of gloves will give you the grip you need to grab that weed and pull it out correctly. Gloves are indispensable, especially if the variety of weeds has thorns or prickly things coming out of it.
But there are many tools that can make weeding easier, and they generally come in two categories: tools used while kneeling and tools used while standing. Here are a couple of examples of tools that you can use while kneeling:
- The Edward Weeding Tool is a great hand tool that uses a curved piece of metal attached to the tool rod as leverage for pulling up those nasty weeds.
- The Cobra Head Original Weeder is a simplified version of the Edward Tools weeder, curving the rod part of the tool to create leverage and allowing simplicity to have multiple uses.
- The Fiskars Garden Hand Trowel is simpler still, being a small shovel that you can use to dig your weeds out of your garden.
If you do not want to get on your knees to weed (or cannot), then there are a plethora of weeding tools that you can use while standing. Here is a sampling of three:
- Grampa’s Weeder is an old standup weeder that has been consistently popular for decades because of its stout wooden staff and its simple lever mechanism that grabs the weed by the root allowing you to pull it out whole.
- The Fiskars Four-Claw Weeder is a more complicated standup tool whose mechanism pulls four claws together around a weed to pull it up by the root once you have inserted the weeder into the ground.
- The Worth Garden Standup Weeder is a sharp-looking stainless steel weeder that has a narrow head and is good for pulling weeds and roots out of the ground.
How to Weed a Garden Quickly
There are times when you may need to weed a garden with speed more than technique. These times may come about because of a pressed schedule, or they may come about because the weeds in your garden may have gotten a tad out of hand. Either way, you will want to get through the weeds quickly.
As you consider these tips, keep in mind that this situation is less ideal than the one described above. You will want to shoot for regular, scheduled weeding. As you are able to achieve that, you will notice that weeding happens quickly. The methods described below are for less than ideal situations.
Weeds by the Handful
This method was mentioned earlier in the negative, but in less than ideal situations, it can help you with your wedding needs. The method is pretty simple. Grab a handful of weeds and pull. It is the caveats that make the method a little more complicated and worthwhile:
- Know the difference between your weeds and your plants – The basic idea is, do not pull up your plants in your enthusiasm to pull up your weeds.
- You are not done until you are done – Pulling up a handful of weeds is only the beginning because when you use this method, you have some clean-up to do.
- Dig the pulled area under – This method will inevitably leave some bits and pieces of the weeds in the soil, and the way to ensure that they do not sprout again is to dig them under (in essence, stir up the soil) because weeds do not have the energy for growing from deep soil.
- Check for stragglers – There maybe one or two that are left in the soil after you have done the handful method, so be sure to remove those as well.
While not ideal, this method can get the job done quickly if you need to get a jump on a weed problem that has gone on a little too long. Just be sure to do the follow-up work, both in terms of removing stragglers and digging the weeds under, as well as in returning to the site and doing a more detailed weeding.
Cut of the Heads
Another way to remove weeds quickly in a less than ideal situation is to remove the potential harm that the weeds may do before you engage in more thorough weed removal. Whereas the previous method balanced both speed and efficiency, this method is all about speed.
Here is how it works. Get some clippers, either long clippers or short garden clippers, and cut off the heads of the weeds that are infesting your garden. This will not get the weeds out of the ground, but it will create a stopgap.
When you cut off the heads, you are removing the part of the weed that will spread seeds into your garden, causing more weeds to grow. You have not solved the problem, but you have given yourself more time to take care of it so that it does not get worse. And there is always the chance that the cut weed may die on its own.
How to Weed a Garden Full of Weeds
As many gardeners know, things can happen that can take you away from maintaining your garden in the ideal way described above, weeding it a little every day. Life steps in sometimes; you simply cannot do the work you want to. In this situation, weeds can take over your garden, and you find yourself having to get rid of an infestation.
But there are other situations when you may have to deal with a garden full of weeds. Perhaps you bought a house that came with a lot of plants that you want to save, but around those plants is a weed infestation due to neglect. Or, a common one might be waiting too long after it has rained.
Use the Hoe
A standard hoe, either a short one that you can use while kneeling or a long one that you can use while standing, can be a good tool to use to remove a lot of weeds, especially if you have a large garden area. Although a hand hoe would work for a smaller garden as well.
Here is the basic method:
- Work the hoe into the soil, digging with a back and forth motion to pull the weeds out.
- Grab the large ones and toss them in a pile.
- Use the hoe to turn the soil over, burying the weed bits and smaller weeds that are left.
As with the methods that were described above for removing weeds quickly, this method is not perfect and will result, ultimately in more detailed work later. But when you have an infestation, the first step is to remove the majority of the weeds, so you can see what details need to be done later.
Heat is also a way to get rid of a lot of weeds. One method is to use a weed burner. A weed burner attaches to a propane tank and uses the flame to kill weeds. Admittedly this sounds like bad news waiting to be told. Using a small flamethrower to kill weeds? Prone to dramatics much?
Actually, using a small flame to kill weeds, especially annuals, can be used safely and have far less repercussions than using a herbicide. That said, the flame is only going to be a permanent solution to annual weeds, not perennials, since it does not kill the root. Also, safe use of a weed burner requires it to be used on weeds 1-2 inches tall.
But that is not the only way to use heat. You can use boiling water to kill your weeds. Admittedly this could also be disastrous when handled improperly, but it has less potential for bad news than the weed burner. Actually, it is pretty easy when you think about it.
Take a pot or kettle of water that has reached the boiling point and pour it carefully over the offending weeds. The heat from the water will kill them. Given enough time and a big enough kettle, you could deal with a garden infestation with relative ease. Only be careful not to pour the hot water on your plants.
Preventative Measures that Make Weeding Easier
One final category for making weeding easier is to employ preventative measures. This does not mean you can make weeding easier by preventing weeds entirely. You cannot prevent weeds entirely, but you can use prevention as a way of making weed pulling easier to do because there are fewer weeds.
You can employ one or all of the following measures to reduce weed growth, making weed pulling easier:
- Mulch – using mulch with or without a weed barrier, depending on your preference, can reduce weed growth, making the smaller number of weeds that do grow easier to pull.
- Shade – Planting your garden plants closer together can help reduce weed growth because they cannot grow without sunlight; the weeds that do grow will be in the few sunlit areas and more accessible.
- How you water – Water your plants, not weeds, by using drip lines that do a deep watering of the plants, not the broad application of sprinklers or watering cans.
False Seed Bed
One method that reduces weed growth, making them easier to pull and making your garden easier to maintain, is called a false seed bed. The strategy is to create a situation in which weeds growth, so that you can eliminate the seeds from the soil.
It works like this:
- Remove weeds and dead plants from your garden
- Till the soil at a depth of no greater than six inches
- Water and allow the weeds to grow
- Remove them as they come up (and continue to come up), maintaining a shallow approach so as not to stir up weed seeds that are deep in the soil
This process can take a minimum of two weeks before the weeds seeds are all removed from the shallow bed with which you are working. Then the bed is ready to plant.
No one likes to weed. But the false seedbed can make it easier by eliminating the weeds within the shallow bed over the course of a couple of weeks instead of a few months. With all your proper weeding tools, you can make a daily trip through the seedbed and take care of weeding that could otherwise drag on.