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
How do you tell a weed from a plant? Visually impaired gardeners often struggle with this, so plan your gardening to avoid weeding as much as you can.
- With some sighted help at first, you can practise recognising common weeds by touch. Some partially sighted gardeners find it useful to mark the soil in front of treasured plants with a bright item, like a yellow or orange felt-tip pen. This can stop you weeding them out by mistake.
- Get to know your favourite plants in your garden by touch and smell and you are less likely to weed them out by mistake. Planting in blocks or lines will help you to identify the growing plants from weeds.
- It will help if you can adapt your garden to avoid having to weed at ground level and to keep the amount of weeding needed to a minimum.
- Cover beds with a thick mulch such as newspapers and 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, 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.
When weeding larger areas, some visually impaired gardeners find right-angle guides invaluable. These are home made guides that can be laid on the ground and pegged to give you a set area to weed. Find out how to make your own right-angle guide and read more about how the guide can be used in the garden
- 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
- If you plant out into clean, weed free soil the plants will grow away quicker than the weeds can germinate. In this way you will know where your plants are and any smaller plants that that come up are weeds.
Warm up before you begin, and take plenty of breaks. Don’t struggle and strain to pull out deep-rooted weeds by hand and when working close to the soil, wear gardening gloves to protect your hands.
- Knee pads with straps to go round your legs are a good way to protect your knees or use a padded kneeler that you can move around as needed.
- 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.
- A full-length hoe can take a lot of strength to use and the chopping action can cause back strain and impact injuries to joints, tendons and ligaments. Do a little at a time and look for light tools that are easy to use.
Equipment and tools
Use a short handled small rake, hoe, or hand trowel to weed and you can feel with your free hand as you go.
- Try out trowels for comfortable weight and grip. If you have a weak grip, look for towels and forks 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.
- The Swoe cultivator has an angled blade that slides through the soil to cut weeds with an easy action.