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How To Weed The Right Way

Today I'm going to explain how to weed the right way!

Some say weeds are just wildflowers growing in the wrong place and can actually be used to your advantage in the garden.

However, others need to be removed as soon as you spot them, or they will spread and take over.

Did you know a few weeds are actually herbs and can be beneficial to our health, or a tasty addition to our cooking. These include:

  • Verbascum – medicinal

  • Dandelion – culinary & medicinal

  • Wild Garlic - culinary

  • Feverfew - medicinal

  • Nettle – culinary & medicinal

  • Yarrow - medicinal & culinary

  • Elder (tree) - culinary

Then there are some which attract pollinators like bees, are fabulous for our environment and can add texture to our borders.

  • Teazel

  • Clover

  • Comfrey

  • Thistle

  • Wild Carrot

So, the first thing to do is to identify your weed to find out if it is a friend or foe. Then you can decide whether they are worth keeping, or how best to get rid.

Next you need to find out what sort of roots your unwanted weed has before you try to remove it.

This will determine how to weed the right way.

As an example, if you have annual weeds with short roots, they can be plucked out of the ground easily. Things like:

  • Groundsel

  • Chickweed

  • Herb Robert

  • Shepards Purse

  • Hairy Bittercress

Annual weeding is simple, most of them have short roots and spread via seed. So as long as you whip them out before the flowers die and set seed, they are easier to eradicate from your garden.

Then you have perennial weeds with huge root systems that need to be dug out, otherwise they spread underground. These are:

  • Ground elder

  • Bindweed

  • Nettles

  • Horsetail

  • Knotweed

  • Dandelion (taproot)

Perennial weeding is much more difficult and requires a lot of patience.

These obvious weeds are the bane of my job most of the year. But I don’t like using chemicals, so patience, brute force and ignorance are all that I am left with.

You need to start by digging deep to remove all the root system. BEWARE, these snap easily and just a tiny piece left in the ground will regrow.

You will need to attempt this job a few times before you win the battle.

Any sign of new shoots, dig deep again straight away to see where you missed the buried root and remove.

Over time and persistent root removal the perennial weeds will weaken… but maybe not before your patience wears thin.

So, you managed to identify your weed, decided whether it was a keeper or to get rid. You weeded the right way and you now need to find a way to keep on top of them.

The easiest way to do this is by mulching!

Once those perennial roots are well and truly eradicated buy some landscape bark and mulch with approximately 2-3 inches.

Get as close to your plants and flowers as possible so there are no gaps for new seeds to take root. (Don’t worry, any bulbs and perennial flowers will find their way through in the spring.)

Once this is done, any annual weed seedlings can be pulled out easily.

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Northampton Gardener

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