How To Eliminate Garden Weeds

At this time of the year everything in the garden should be flourishing, including unfortunately weeds. Andrew Taylor considers the options on how to prevent and remove these unwanted intruders.

Created by Andrew Taylor on Wednesday, 3rd of June, 2015.
Updated on Wednesday, 9th of May, 2018.


Dandelions

Weeds compete with your ornamental plants and vegetables for moisture, light and nutrients. They are uninvited guests that need to be removed as they certainly won't leave of their own accord. 

Annual and Perennial Weeds

There are two types, annual (including chickweed, groundsel and speedwell) and perennial (for example dandelions and creeping buttercup, and underground creepers such as bindweed).

Annual weeds appear from soil that has recently been turned over in order to set their seed each year. Perennials remain over winter and are more difficult to eliminate, those with non-woody stems dying back in the winter to re-emerge in the spring.

Some weeds can be classified as useful. Fat Hen attracts hover flies and bees, clover fixes nitrogen, nettles are used by butterflies to lay eggs and can be eaten as a spinach substitute. 

So many organic gardeners will control these, together with red campion and teasel among others, rather than completely eliminating them.

Methods of Removal

However if weeds need to be removed, there are three main methods - manual weeding, barriers and weedkillers.

Hand weeding is the cheapest option, and is sometimes the only way in congested flower and vegetable beds. The main aim should be to stop the annual weeds from seeding and removing the whole root system from perennials.

By forking and hoeing, preferably in dry weather and working backwards, weeds are removed or cut down. Hoeing will also deal with weeds emerging from below the surface before they reach the light. Repeated cutting and strimming will eventually weaken even the toughest weeds.

All plants, including weeds, need light so covering areas with a physical barrier such as weed control fabric can also be successful. Better still, crops such as strawberries and potatoes can be planted through slits cut into the plastic.

In flower beds, the appearance of black plastic is not pretty, so bark, manure or compost mulch spread in the spring to a depth of at lease 3ins in the spring, can be very effective and will also conserve moisture. 

Without sunlight for a year, most weeds will be dealt with, although persistent perennials may well survive. The only solution for the latter is to dig them up.

Weedkillers

You don't have to be organic to shy away from chemical weedkillers and many have been taken off the market, but they are no doubt useful in some circumstances and can be 'contact', 'systemic' or 'residual'.

Quick results can be obtained from contact weedkillers that kill plants above the ground but not the roots. Systemic weedkillers are slowly absorbed by the entire plant, many are based on glysophate and this becomes inactive when coming into contact with the soil. The opposite is true of residual products that remain in the soil.

Whatever you decide, vigilance is key to success, always keeping an eye open for these opportunist invaders and dealing with them quickly and effectively with the method most appropriate to your garden and way of working.

Related Articles

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

Late autumn and winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees and, whatever sized garden you have, Martyn Loach thinks there's space for a tree if you choose carefully and manage correctly.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018.

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Propagating by taking cuttings, whether from your own plants or ones you admire in neighbouring gardens, is a fantastic way of increasing the variety of plants in your own garden free of charge, and all you need are a sharp knife and patience.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Monday, 14th of May, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Andrew Taylor Andrew Taylor

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

What To Do In The Garden In November

What To Do In The Garden In November

David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of October, 2017.

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

Timber garden decking never seems to lose its popularity, and why should it, when it's such a useful way of extending your living and entertaining space. Andy Taylor explains why decking is so easy to install and how best to look after it.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Thursday, 11th of October, 2018.