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 a lot of strength to use and may be hard for you to use with a weak grip. When working at ground level, you can fit an extra fist grip and arm support to long handled tools or try lightweight tools with extendable handles.
- Try improving the grip on your existing tools by sliding pipe insulation over the handle. This gives a wider, more comfortable hold and works for both hand tools and tools with long handles.
- 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. When you have a weak grip it makes sense to reduce the amount of weeding you will need to do, so always plant or sow into weed-
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 are made by covering the bed with a thick mulch such as newspapers and then with 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 can be easier to use if you have a weak grip. Slide pipe insulation over the handle to make it wider.
- A long handled trowel, fork or claw cultivator will be lighter than a conventional spade and can be used sitting down to reach ground level. Tools have different handles and grips, 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 cultivate the soil in a high raised bed with a hand fork, trowel, or claw cultivator. Make sure that the tool has a wide, comfortable grip.
- 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.
- If weeds have got out of hand, careful spot weeding with a systemic weedkiller should not harm nearby plants.