Getting rid of annual and perennial weeds keeps your garden beds tidy and your plants healthy. Weeds inhibit plant growth and compete for moisture in the soil. Once established, weeds become hard to remove without damaging your plants. You can lift weeds with a trowel, or tackle larger areas with a sharp-edged tool like a hoe, which cuts off shallow-rooted weeds.
Top tips to make weeding easier
A full-length hoe can take alot of strength to use and will be hard to use one handed. Try hand tools and lightweight tools with extendable handles that are easy to use.
- Try out trowels for comfortable weight and grip. Depending on the height of your beds, you may need a hand trowel and one with a longer handle. If you use hand tools, you can improve the grip on your existing tools by sliding pipe insulation over the handle. This gives a wider, more comfortable hold.
- When using one hand to garden it makes sense to reduce the amount of weeding you will need to do. Here are a few ideas to help:
- Always plant or sow into weed-free soil.
- Narrow ‘no-dig’ beds are made by covering the bed with a thick mulch such as newspapers, and then a thick top layer of manure or compost. Worms and micro-organisms will help break the soil down and the mulch will help stop weeds growing.
- Alternatively, you can lay down a weed-suppressing membrane in permanent beds and plant through slits cut in the material. Cover the membrane with a mulch such as bark or gravel.
- Consider using raised beds and containers. These bring the soil off the ground, reduce the need for weeding and make any weeding that you have to do much easier. Find out more about raised beds
Taking care when weeding
- 'Warm up' before you begin, and take plenty of breaks. Don’t struggle and strain to pull out deep-rooted weeds by hand.
- Weeding with a trowel at ground level can put a strain on your knees, back, wrists and hands. Don’t do too much at once and take breaks. Use a kneeler or wear strap on knee pads.
- Make sure you protect your feet and lower legs to avoid injury from sharp tools like forks and spades.
Equipment and tools
A push-pull weeder can be more effective than a hoe and is easier if you use one hand.
- A long handled trowel, fork or claw cultivator will be lighter to use with one hand than a conventional spade when weeding at ground level or at the back of beds.
- Try tools with different handles and grips to see what suits you. Some long reach tools have T shaped handles, and some have handles called a fist grip which is at right angles to the tool - these can be fitted with an arm support to reduce strain on the wrist.
- You can weed a high raised bed with a hand fork, trowel, or claw cultivator. Make sure that the tool has a wide, comfortable grip. If you have a weak grip, try a trowel or fork with a contoured or larger diameter handle, or slide pipe insulation over the handle to make it wider.
- Tools designed to break up the soil using pushing and pulling actions are
called cultivation tools and may be easier for you to use than a spade. The Swoe cultivator has an angled
blade that slides through the soil to cut weeds with an easy action.
- A separate fist grip and arm support can be fitted to tools with long handles, like hoes, to help you lift and push it more easily.
- If weeds have got out of hand, careful spot weeding with a systemic weedkiller should not harm nearby plants.