Getting rid of annual and perennial weeds keeps your garden beds tidy and your plants healthy. Weeds inhibit plant growth and compete for moisture, nutrients and light. 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
Try lifting weeds with a trowel from a kneeling position, or use a long handled trowel when sitting down. You can also cut shallow weeds with a sharp-edged tool like a hoe.
- Use a padded kneeler or strap-on knee pads for weeding at ground level. Some kneelers have handles to help you get up, and can also be upturned to sit on.
- Try using a grabber to pick up weeds from the ground and have a bucket or barrow nearby to collect the weeds as you go. This will save you having to bend to collect them later.
It will help if you can adapt your garden to avoid weeding at ground level and to keep the amount of weeding needed to a minimum. Here are some ideas to help:
- Narrow ‘no-dig’ beds. Simply remove perennial weeds and cover the bed with a thick mulch such as newspapers and 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.
- 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 and make any weeding that you have to do much easier. Find out more about raised beds
- Plan your garden beds so that you can reach them from the path. If they are accessible from all sides, and narrow, the weeds will be easier to reach.
- '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.
- Wear suitable shoes and clothing to protect your feet and lower legs when using tools at ground level.
Equipment and tools
Try out trowels for comfortable weight and grip. If you have a weak grip, try a trowel or fork with a contoured, or larger diameter handle. Depending on the height of your beds, you may need a hand trowel
and one with a longer handle.
- A grabber will help you pick up weeds which you can put into a bucket for tranfer to the compost heap.
- Long handled weeders work with a twisting or gripping action to remove deep-rooted weeds without the need to bend. Depending on the length you use, these can also be used sitting down.
- The Swoe cultivator has an angled blade that slides through the soil to cut weeds with an easy action.
- A push-pull weeder can be more effective than a hoe and will cause less back strain when weeding at ground level.
- A long-handled weedkiller applicator can be used to kill stubborn weeds without the need to bend.